Paying the Bill

Looking back today, it is obvious that only a few people knew the real background of what had happened. During some big meetings of Senior people it was communicated, that the change was necessary to support more efficiently  the evolution of  international standards in the sense of a global market. To exchange the responsibility for Marketing  for the responsibility for  Quality and Norms  was no promotion  in the context of the Essilor culture. Accordingly I did not get any congratulations, but I was not asked any questions either. Most of the people thought probably, that there was a relational problem. This was not necessarily a good start to take over the Quality & Norms Department. Furthermore the Director of Quality  was informed only a few days earlier without any explanation that he was not responsible for the worldwide organization anymore.

At that time I had no boss to assist me and so I was exposed to the greatest organizational disorder of my professional  life. This influenced not only my professional activities, but also my private life. To loose what I had built during many years was a big disappointment, but my wife helped me to see, that there were still many positive elements in my life with Essilor. Today it is very clear to me that one reason for this development of events, even if there was no direct causal link, was my perception of business.

 For a long time I was entirely convinced that being good in business meant almost exclusively personal performance, specific expertise, particular skills. This perception also influenced my relation with people I worked together with. In order to have a satisfied and motivated team I made strong efforts  providing the staff members with  means for an independent and efficient management of their product portfolio, assessing their work correctly and fair as well as developing their salaries. The cooperation  with my colleagues from the other departments in the project meetings was  efficient and successful. But beyond these pure business relations my personal contacts were rather  an exception. For my way to work I needed independence and was lucky that my  bosses left me much freedom for my responsibility. I never tried to build my career on personal relationships. Everything l   expected  was a correct and fair assessment of my work. But this  independence brought me sometimes even in conflictual situation with my bosses and made it difficult  to build a close  personal contact.

 I had neglected in a gross manner an essential part of daily business relations. This was particularly serious in France where often problems are discussed and their solution at least prepared at meetings with a certain personal, private character, like meals for example.

But at that time my ranking of priorities in business life was exclusively performance oriented, so there was still much to learn. My new responsibility for our worldwide  Quality organization with all its complex structure across the different fields of expertise and  different geographic regions, where I had no hierarchic power, was  the ideal position to learn more about human relations in business life.