B. Hartzer – what matters is what the ‘customer’ perceives
Below is my Australian Financial Review, Letter to the Editor this past Tuesday, on a video clip, ‘How we’re responding to AUSTRAC issues’, by Brian Hartzer, Westpac Banking Corporation CEO. Hartzer lost his job this week.
On reflection, Hartzer might still have his job if he had paused before the final edit of the presentation, and considered, ‘what the customer perceives is what matters’. In this case , the customer being the community.
Hartzer is known as a fighter. But this fighting instinct seemed to blind him – or blind his presentation skill advisors – to realising that discretion is the better part of valour. The link to the clip follows after the letter.
AFR ‘Letter to the Editor’ 26/11/19
Hartzer apology fails to convey empathy
My body language and speech analysis of Brian Hartzer’s 3:15 minute presentation, ‘How we’re responding to AUSTRAC Issues’ – against the benchmark of a competent, inspiring leader of a major bank, faced with a significant dereliction of duty, is as follows.
Hartzer’s apology was weak. He didn’t squarely accept his own responsibility for the events. There were moments when he did convey genuine signs of remorse with moist eyes and a somber vocal tone; ‘It’s deeply distressing to think that anyone, especially a child, has been hurt by our mistake…’ but overall, he seemed more concerned with defending his bank than with conveying genuine empathy for the victims.
I scored him 6/10 against the above benchmark.
One reason for the weakness of the apology was Hartzer’s robotic delivery. When there is deep feeling behind an apology a person’s speaking cadence naturally slows and there is often a definite pause after the final word. Hartzer’s speaking cadence was unchanged when uttering his apology, and there was little hesitation before transitioning to his next sentence.
Weakness of apology was also demonstrated by labelling the gross misconduct of the bank, as a ‘mistake’.
Regarding squarely accepting responsibility, Hartzer talked about himself being at the top of the chain of command. However, he fudged his own responsibility using the word ‘but’ to side step and gloss over personal responsibility. That is, ‘But I feel the best way I can to demonstrate genuine remorse is to develop a plan . . . ‘. He couldn’t bring himself to say, ‘I accept full responsibility for what happened.’
p.s. The last public presentation of a high-profile person, will be the lasting memory of the person. Unfortunately for Hartzer, his three minute presentation will stay with him for the rest of his career.
With this last memory in mind here is my 4/7/13 post on former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s resignation speech.
‘How Julia Gillard’s final speech as PM will be remembered – Dignity
The measure of the impact of a speech or presentation must be viewed within the context in which the speech is given.
After being dumped as Prime Minister of Australia last Wednesday, Julia Gillard, who must have felt crushed from this final blow, who had sustained months of withering, vitriolic, brutal verbal assaults from all sections of the media – assaults that would have skewered most other politicians of any stripe – did not cower and whimper off the public stage.
Instead, Gillard took this huge loss on the chin, and in short-order time, prepared a resignation speech, fronted up at a media conference and delivered a passionate, composed, dignified, ‘statesman-like’ speech. (below is a link to a clip that contains excerpts from the speech)
The final performance of a person on the public stage is the one that will be remembered long after the time of the performance. Julia Gillard will be remembered for many things – positive and negative. For this speech, she will be remembered positively.’