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Bpeace Blog Briefs

Stories of bravery, transformation and impact.

Rwanda

Sylvie and Phyllis, seeming quite gratified

The most gratifying facet of my visit here has been the growth in the Fast Runners management styles as a result of the Human Resources Management workshop. (That's me--Phyllis Rosen--on the right, with Sylvie the amusement park owner.) Even the one who ran in and out of the training a million times to take and make phone calls told me in a follow-up visit that she now gets it—her employees are important, they represent her business and she wouldn’t want to be treated the way she treats them, “barking orders at them like a policeman!” That apparently is the boss’ way in Rwanda.

Not fun, but totally necessary
We spent yesterday morning on interviewing skills, starting with the purpose of the job description and how you devise one. The women were able to see that the job description begins to set the expectations for work performance if the candidate is hired. We went through an exercise where we looked at positions in their businesses, and really broke them down into job responsibilities, skills, and qualifications required. This was a real eye-opener for the group. They truly got the fact that no one really likes writing a job description, but how it makes you think what skills you really need for the job. They each wrote a description for a job they had open. We'll review each job description with our Associates in their one-on-ones coming up next week.

Now imagine doing this training, stopping every 3-4 sentences so the translator can translate the English into Kinyarwanda, the local language. Everything takes twice as long! I had to cut out a few sections, and will have to leave them for our follow-up sessions. And did I mention the conference room was dimly lit with maybe a 60 watt bulb hanging from the ceiling? Totally unlike myself, I went with the flow.

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Customer service follow-up
The Customer Service training delivered by other Bpeacers over the past two years has had great resonance with the Fast Runners and their staff. Remarkably, what is called Customer Care in this country has its own department in the government–it is considered that critical to Rwanda's success.

I spent time with beauty salon owners Harriett and Jeanne (above), and we came up with a big change to benefit their customers: regular appointments with favorite stylists. This is totally out of the ordinary in Rwanda; women now walk in and see who’s available, kind of like the old barbershop in the States. This added value changes the nature of the customer / salon relationship, and would practically guarantee repeat business.

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Finally, tonight I met with Bea (above). She's a fast-talking dynamo, and the head of Customer Care for a large bank here, BCR. I had heard that she conducts free Customer Service workshops. Once Bea understood what we were trying to do, she agreed to meet with our Fast Runners once a month pro bono to reinforce their training. This is one of the things I really like about this country. People reach out and give unselfishly all the time.

--Phyllis, April 2009

Piqued your interest? Read Phyllis' blog in its entirety here.

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