Posts Tagged ‘engaging others’
New York restaurateur Danny Meyer defines a “51 percenter” as an employee who brings job skills that are 51 percent emotional and 49 percent technical. Having worked in the hotel industry for 10 years, I share Mr. Meyer’s contention that the art of delivering true hospitality often comes from your heart more so than from your head.
Meyer goes on to say that service is about meeting the technical expectation, while the “hospitality quotient,” as he calls it, surpasses mere technical requirements to the ability to demonstrate a sense of being on the customer’s side. This is something I look for when hiring for customer-focused roles too. In my own case, when I seek to delight customers by anticipating and meeting needs they didn’t even realize they had, I get as much joy from that process as they do in the outcome, if not more so. Meyer calls this the “jazz level,” or the extent to which those 51 percenters are “jazzed” by coming to work in an environment that calls for them to deliver outstanding hospitality each day. Rain or shine, pleasant customers or surly, Meyer’s definition of a hospitality orientation is a core behavioral requirement for everyone he hires to work in one of his 12 restaurants. No jazz…no job.
Now, here are my three questions for you:
How would you define the hospitality quotient in your office?
Do you consider yourself a 51 percenter?
If not, what would it be like for you and your customers if you showed up this way, starting today?
You don’t have to work in a restaurant or hotel to bring the art of hospitality to your workplace. You don’t even have to work directly with external customers who pay you or your organization a fee. Most of us have at least one internal customer in another department that we have to serve at some point in our careers. Being a 51 percenter does require that you operate from a point of view that puts you firmly on the same team as your customers, however. Customers know better when this isn’t the case. One trip to the Returns and Exchanges counter at your typical department store will show you the difference.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or time to bring a higher hospitality quotient to your office, either. The next time you are working on a customer request, challenge yourself to think three steps ahead of your customer. What else is possible beyond the initial inquiry or request they have made? What else can you do or say to demonstrate that you have their best interests at heart? Try it out, and tell me about your success!
For more about Danny Meyer and his philosophy about the art of hospitality, check out Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business (2006, Harper Collins).
Los Angeles is a long way from Venezuela. But somehow, Gustavo Dudamel never looks more at home than when he is on the platform as the new conductor of the LA Philharmonic. Dudamel is currently one of the most sought-after conductors in the world. Have I mentioned that he is 29 years old?
The Millennial Generation, or Gen Y as it is often called, is generally defined as those who were born between 1978 and 1996. They comprise more than 25% of the U.S. population. And in addition to being amongst the youngest in their workplaces, they are frequently the colleagues who are expressing strong views about the importance of brainstorming, their ability to generate creative solutions, and their interest in making a significant mark on the world. This is a generation who holds themselves and their organizations to a high standard.
Whether you are a leader of a team with a diverse age range or a team member who wants to learn more about what drives your colleagues, learning to work together effectively is about more than workplace satisfaction; it is about business growth and sustainability too, as more members of the Baby Boomer generation prepare to retire. Millennials and their slightly older colleagues from Generation X (born between 1965 and 1977) represent the blend of ages that will exist on the senior leadership teams of tomorrow. There are two new books on the shelves that I’ve found interesting on this topic. The first is What’s Next, Gen X? by Tamara Erickson. The second is Managing the Millennials by Espinoza, Ukleja and Rusch. Both books include helpful research and practical tips to foster greater understanding and synergy between members of the multiple generations that are in today’s workplace.
Dudamel’s list of expectations and accomplishments grows by the day, by the way, as does his trademark curly hair, which he is known to toss about passionately while conducting. An accomplished violinist, Dudamel is the former Music Director of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and an important factor behind YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), which makes it possible for low-income children throughout Los Angeles to participate in a first-rate musical education program. Dudamel credits his early days in a similar program, El Sistema, as the place that first nurtured his talent and his passion for music. His experience at El Sistema also inspired him to make a similar difference for children around the world through programs like YOLA. High expectations? Yes. But to a Millennial, big dreams and bold actions are an everyday expectation. If your organization hasn’t found a way to leverage this energy yet, now is a great time to start!
P.S. To watch Dudamel in action with the kids from YOLA, click here: http://www.laphil.com/gustavo/about.html
At some point in our professional careers, we have all experienced some sort of email etiquette training–whether it be a company policy document, a just-in-time web-based tool, or an in-person training session, we’ve all been through it. And there is a lot of useful information that is shared through those various avenues because, when it comes down to it, writing an email is a distinct form of writing. There are rules to follow: be concise and to the point; do not attach unnecessary files; and (please) do not overuse the high priority feature, just to name a few.
However, there is one rule that I would like to bring more attention to: make it personal. I realize that most of us are inundated with emails throughout the day (and if you happen to decide to take a week off for a vacation, knowing that there is a stack awaiting you when you return can be enough to ruin your last day off), so this rule may be one that is followed only when it’s convenient. Nonetheless, it should be followed. Some tips to consider: when writing to only one person, consider opening your email by asking a follow-up question to a conversation you may have had last week that is non-work related. Or, if you’re writing to a group of people, and it’s a very stressful time because you’re all trying to meet an important deadline, make a reference to that deadline and acknowledge the level of stress. And my favorite, consider simply changing your closing salutation; it may seem minute, but if you’re asking someone to do something for you, wouldn’t it be more personable if you closed with “Thanks” rather than “With warm regards”? It’s little things, like personalizing your emails whenever possible, that may help you build networks in your work environment. And who knows–maybe a co-worker will consider going the extra mile for you as a result of you taking the time to personalize an email to her (and it only takes a few seconds of your time).
I’d like to know your thoughts. Do you think personalizing emails is worthwhile? If so, how do you personalize your emails?
Technology is making us more nimble, proactive, and better-suited to meet our customers’ needs. Smart phones are making us more connected, easily accessible and productive. Show of hands: at the root of those two statements, who disagrees? Remember, remove any personal biases you may have toward technology and smart phones–the question refers to the root of those two statements. I’m assuming, at this point, that there are no hands in the air. I can’t disagree either, so count me in the group not raising his or her hand.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, allow me to bring in my personal bias: I prefer face-to-face communication. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of technology and everything it offers; I challenge you to find one industry that has not been improved, in some way, directly as a result of technology. And smart phones…I have owned my iPhone for around two months and I don’t know how I survived without it: I can simultaneously find the nearest Italian restaurant, map the shortest route to that restaurant, send the address in a text message to my friend, all the while listening to You Can’t Always get What You Want by The Rolling Stones.
So, as you can clearly see, I have embraced technology and smart phones. However, I am still partial to face-to-face, in-person communication. Think about all the aspects of communication that are lost due to our increasing reliance on virtual means: body language, facial expressions, instant feedback, just to name a few. These missing pieces can lead to numerous unintended outcomes, three of which being: a longer, more drawn-out conversation; misinterpretations of meaning; and the need for clarification where it may not normally be needed.
Conference calls and WexEx’s have become the default when planning a meeting these days, and a lot of the reasoning comes from having geographically-dispersed project teams and clients in different locations and, perhaps even more so, due to restricted travel budgets. On the other hand, there are some engagements in which WebEx meetings should be the exception to the rule. Last week I was doing some research on the topic of negotiations, and came across an article that highlighted an interview conducted with an expert in the field. The interview centered around conducting negotiations via email. Upon beginning to read the article, I imagined two conference rooms separated by thousands of miles, each with a group of people huddled around a computer crafting a response to the other party: “Write this, that will show them!” “Type this, I’d like to see what they say to that!” “Are they serious? Give me that keyboard…” I could go on like this for some time, but let me state my point: in a face-to-face encounter this kind of back-and-forth is not likely to happen and, as a result, the negotiation will tend to be much more productive for both sides.
So, when planning your next meeting, examine the objectives you would like to get out of the meeting, and if it seems like those objectives can be achieved virtually, great. However, if there is the potential for unintended misinterpretations or the need for instant feedback, don’t discount the face-to-face meeting. You may be surprised at how productive your meeting becomes.
I’d like to know what your thoughts and experiences are on this topic.
Something very strange happened to me this week. A supervisor came to me and asked for feedback on her performance. Imagine my surprise!
It’s been said in oh, so many ways that a critical component of effective performance planning is establishing expectations and discussing meaningful outcomes. If we keep in mind that organizations fail or succeed as a team, it becomes obvious that everyone in that unit—individual contributors and supervisors—must do their jobs well. So performance planning should not be a one-way, downward-directed activity; no, it should be bi-directional. Most bosses do a great job of discussing expectations and desired outcomes with their subordinates. But how many subordinates have a performance discussion with their boss?
Bosses have a responsibility to their subordinates to do the things that are expected of them as supervisors. That’s their job. If they do that poorly, the unit will flounder. Therefore, individual contributors should be demanding performance planning sessions of their bosses. But this doesn’t happen. Why? One word: “fear.” The superior is afraid that she might appear unqualified to be in her position, and the subordinate is afraid that the feedback she delivers will be used against her.
To move beyond this potential stalemate, only the supervisor is in a position to take action. Make performance planning discussions two-way conversations. And you can do so by asking a few simple questions of your subordinates:
“To better help you get done what I’ve asked you to do,
- What should I continue to do, but perhaps do better?
- What am I doing that you’d like me to stop?
- What am I not doing that you’d like me to start?”
You want to be an effective boss. You want your subordinates to respect you. You want to meet the goals you’ve laid out for your organization. If all these statements are true, then ask your subordinates for feedback! Doing so is a sign of strength, not weakness.
I’d love to hear your experiences in asking for the opportunity to give feedback to your boss.