Lufthansa’s MSM Executive Trumps Her Poor Comm Skills, Lands Herself a Lead Role

‘Sky’s the limit,’ says Lufthansa’s MSM Professional as She Trumps Her Communication Skills, Wins A Promotion

Lufthansa’s MSM Executive Trumps Her Poor Comm Skills, Lands Herself a Lead Role

Four years ago, Lufthansa launched a new tagline to introduce itself- ‘Say Yes to The World.’ Little did it know that one of its employees would take it quite literally to build on her spoken English skills and win herself a promotion. This was quite a turnaround, given that her poor communication skills had almost prompted her boss not to consider her for the lead role.

This story is about Sulekha, a young professional working in the Material Service Management wing of Germany’s largest airline. A few months back, she was eyeing an upcoming promotion in her team. She checked all the boxes required as prerequisites except for one- her verbal communication skills. To make matters worse, her reporting manager knew it too.

Technically very good at her work, Sulekha relied on her minimalistic English-speaking and writing skills to get through work. This was different from how her reporting manager used to work because he was good at his work and had good communication skills too. He had also advised her to work on her English-speaking skills a few times, but she never honored his request.

This was all set to hit her hard, really hard.

The roadblock

Being an experienced employee counted in Sulekha’s favor. She had spent enough time on the job to understand all specifications, details, and objections to any assigned task. She was good at drafting those minimalistic emails and sending barebones texts (or ‘updates’) on WhatsApp. No one ever had a bad thing to say about her because she was quite dependable and lightning-fast at work. She had carved out a space for herself during all these years.

She was sure of her promotion in the next quarter and casually asked her manager a few months before applying. But, to her dismay and horror, he said he would not like to consider her for it. She had displayed amazing professionalism in her individual capacity but had done nothing that could portray her as a team leader. Torn with shock and disbelief, Sulekha probed him further about what was so lacking in her professional reputation and capabilities.

Her boss replied that her verbal communication skills were less than required. He also added that she could only do as well as an individual worker but not as a team lead. Her juniors would not respect her command because they would find her less capable than them. They might also have difficulty taking her instructions because she may not be able to explain herself properly. It could worsen if people from different states (and different mother tongues) joined her team.

She recollected how she had laughed off her husband’s advice to improve her verbal communication skills the last night. He had told her that her grammar, sentence construction, and articulation were all off the mark. In less than 24 hours, it came down to what these two gentlemen had advised her.

She made up her mind

Sulekha was a different person when she reached her home that evening. She told her husband that she had made a mistake and was determined to correct it, though she did not know where to start. Her husband advised her to opt for personalized English-spoken classes, the ones that will take her through the basics and help her develop the skills required to make it count.

She knew that she needed to work on two major shortcomings. First, be an effective communicator (that is, speaker), and second, structure her sentences in a more grammatically correct manner. Next, she opted for online classes that offered 1:1 or personal coaching classes.

She signed up the same night!

She chose Blackboard Radio. This up-and-coming online portal is much unlike others because it offered her to customize her course in a way that exactly matched her learning aspirations. Secondly, the freedom to join these classes from her home at a time of her choice was the part that attracted her the most. This ensured that she could develop her skills without anyone knowing about it.

A house on fire, Sulekha wanted to get in line for that much-coveted promotion. Her boss and husband had told her where she was lacking as a professional, and now all that remained to be seen was if she could close the gap in a few months.

The good thing about these online classes was that anyone could sign up for them from anywhere and sign in at the time and place of one’s preference. All one needed was a smartphone and high-speed internet- and a burning desire to change for the better.

Sulekha had set the classes for late evenings so she could be home and focus. She had opted for the Foundation Class. It featured the most elementary yet key aspects of communication, such as:

  1. Body language
  2. Basics of Grammar
  3. Effective Public Speaking
  4. Paralinguistic Skills

It was an hour-long session during which the trainer asked her to translate a few sentences into English to gauge her proficiency. This helped Manpreet understand that Sulekha had issues with correct grammar usage and sentence construction. When the session concluded, she told her what she understood of her capabilities.

  1. Sulekha lacks grammatical alignment. This negatively affects her sentence formation.
  2. She should work on her comprehension skills. This would help her speak better, especially during presentations.

The next thing the trainer did was offer her a personalized course design. It was supposed to be her roadmap for the next few weeks to become better at all forms of verbal communication prevalent in workplaces. Manpreet was sure it would help her deliver presentations and take team meetings.

With her task certainly cut out, Sulekha decided to go all-in for her next class.

Onward and upward!

Days rolled by, and so did weeks. It took about fourteen weeks for her to run through the curriculum, and it was highly focused on ironing out her flaws. Bonded as a team with her online trainer Manpreet, Sulekha found the following feedback loops to her advantage.

  • Classes 1 and 2: She does not believe in herself. She has a few issues with grammar and correct sentence formation, but it is not a deal breaker. She would do better if she read English articles and stories more frequently. This would help her improve her comprehension skills.
  • Class 3 and 4: Major improvements. Over the past few weeks, she has switched to reading and this is showing in her choice of words. She should maintain the tempo.
  • Class 5: She should take her time to answer the questions, no matter how long they may be.
  • Class 6: She speaks more fluently, with fewer hiccups and near-zero grammatical errors. A welcome change.
  • Class 7, 8, and 9: With grammatical mistakes reduced, it is important she does not become complacent. She also needs to speak in shorter and more meaningful sentences.
  • Class 10: She asked me a lot of questions today. It is great to see her come so ahead in these fourteen or so weeks; I wish her luck and would advise her to continue practicing every day.

On the last day, Manpreet also shared her cumulative feedback with Sulekha. The latter was thrilled to learn that all her hard work had paid off and that she was ready to go to the next level. The good thing is that her juniors, too, had witnessed a sea change in her attitude over these three and half months. They were confident in her leadership.

She was ready for her first BIG break now!

Sulekha’s manager was no less impressed by how far she had come in just a few months, and he thought she deserved a raise. So, given her positive feedback and track record, he offered her the position of Team Lead. She also won an award for being the best performer in that appraisal cycle. She literally did stick to Lufthansa’s tagline, ‘Say Yes to The World.’

All because she chose not to give up (and got a gentle push from Blackboard Radio).

Attention, working professionals! You, too, can win your next promotion

Inadequate communication skills are the leading cause of many professionals giving up on their dreams. You should not be the next one!

Blackboard Radio offers a wide range of online, 1:1, personalized courses to help you develop your spoken communication skills. It relies on a simple methodology of understanding the mental patterns of your shortcomings and its trainers then help you rise above them. You may sign up for its course called Fluency in English Communication.’

It comprises the following aspects:

  • English Grammar and Application
  • Essential Vocabulary
  • Fundamentals of Effective Communication
  • Formal and Informal Communication
  • Filler Words Reduction
  • Advanced Sentence Restructuring
  • Non-Verbal Communication

You may enroll in these classes using your smartphone, an active internet connection, and a strong desire to change your life for the better. If Sulekha can fly high in Lufthansa, so can you too!

Join the conversation