To Engage the Guest, You Must Engage
Those Who Directly Serve the Guest
by: Bryan K. Williams, July 2007
Over the last few years, one of the main questions I am constantly asked
is, "What is the best way for my hotel to engage our guests?" My
short answer is usually, "engage those who serve the guests". Sounds
simple enough; but before you go running to the jewelry store to buy engagement
rings for all of your front line employees, let's be clear on what the
word, "engage", really means in this context.
For your employees, being engaged transcends showing up to work and
doing what they are supposed to do. It goes beyond constantly being
on time and never calling in sick. More than anything, engagement
is much more than being "satisfied" at work. Being engaged is synonymous
with truly living the culture of the workplace. It is about genuinely
enjoying the opportunity to be a part of the organization and noticeably
excited about contributing in a significant way, everyday. Engaged
employees are your role models; the ones that you'd like to multiply and
replicate throughout your company. They are the ones who constantly
look for ways to exceed your expectations, and consistently delight customers
with their urgency, inclusiveness, and follow through. Basically,
when you go to work and see that your engaged employee is working, you
breathe a sigh of relief, because you know that your day will be significantly
I'm sure that everyone reading this can point to at least one person
on their team who fits the above description. So the real question
here is, "How do you create a team full of engaged employees?" Or
at least develop more than what you currently have.
To successfully do that, you must involve your staff in matters that
directly and indirectly affect them. Here are six suggestions that
you can use immediately:
1. Involve them in your annual
strategic planning meetings. Even if you don't have an employee
actually attend a meeting, make sure that their "voice" is heard.
Have a townhall meeting to solicit their input on what the organization
should consider as priorities in the future. Hold mini focus-groups
with a healthy cross-section of your best line staff. Use data from the
employee satisfaction survey. Basically, as you and the other senior
leaders gather relevant information to help shape the company's annual
strategic plan, be sure to include the voice of your employees. (And
make sure they know that you are, in fact, using that data and you value
Involvement equals more engagement. Solicitation of ideas equals
more engagement. Linking personal goals to department and company
goals equals more engagement. Regular two-way communication equals
more engagement. People like to be involved in the planning of the work
that affects them. They crave it; even if they don't verbalize it
all the time. So tap into their expertise and they will appreciate
you and the organization for it. The end result will be an army of
engaged employees whose sole mission is to engage all of your customers
all the time.
2. Solicit their ideas for best practices.
The sharing of best practices is one of the most underutilized practices
in many companies. To replicate success you must focus on success.
Shine a spotlight on what currently works so that everyone will know exactly
what you mean when the term "excellence" is used. By the way, this
also encourages your best people to continue churning out more best practices...which
is always a great thing.
3. Get their insight on common pitfalls
to avoid. Believe it or not, your employees, like everyone else,
have what's called "tacit" knowledge. Tacit knowledge means knowing
something without openly expressing it. For example, Employee A has
been working at your company for 7 years, and has seen multiple managers
come and go. Chances are that Employee A has knowledge about the
company's "real way of doing things" that newer employees don't have; including
you and other managers. Employee A saw when the new hot-shot manager
tried to implement new processes and failed. Employee A has also accumulated
a wealth of insight into what initiatives have not worked, and why they
haven't. If you don't believe me, eavesdrop on what some of your
tenured line employees are discussing over lunch or in the locker room.
You'll be amazed at how much tacit knowledge they really have. So
how do you tap into this vast resource? Ask. Many times that's
all it takes. Genuinely solicit their insight on what has worked
and what hasn't worked in the past. This is especially powerful when
it's done during the new manager's assimilation period; usually the first
60-90 days of employment. Trust me, the mere fact that you are seeking
their expertise will earn you major points and will simultaneously help
to engage them.
4. Ensure that each employee's goals
are linked to departmental and hotel goals. They need to see
how their personal performance fits into the bigger picture. You
should be able to walk up to any of your employees and ask about the company's
mission and get a clear, confident answer. Furthermore, they should
also be able to articulate how their department's goals are aligned with
the company's goals. If it sounds too good to be true, spend some
time with any recent winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Employees in those organizations know exactly what makes their company
unique, and they also know that their individual contributions are needed
and valued. You can begin this alignment process by articulating
clearly what the hotel's mission is and ensuring that all employees completely
understand it. Then challenge each of them to think of ways they
can personally energize that mission. On a monthly basis, all departments
should have a team meeting, and reviewing the department's goals should
be a vital part of the agenda. The key here is to link, link, link.
Link company goals to department goals, and link employee goals to department
5. Show progress on department and
company goals. John Maxwell once wrote that teams can make adjustments
when they know where they stand. Just like a stadium has a scoreboard
that constantly gets updated, every department should have some easy-to-understand
tool for tracking key department and company goals. The key points
are that the "scores" should be accessible and they need to be easily understood.
I have seen many well-intentioned executives take the financial charts
and graphs directly from their high-level board meetings and post them
on the employee bulletin board. Newsflash: Not everyone has the patience
to decipher tables and spreadsheets; especially not a line employee who
may not be used to reviewing such reports on a regular basis like a senior
manager or executive. Extract the data that is most relevant to that
department and also show a few overall metrics that everyone affects (like
Overall Satisfaction & Likelihood to Recommend).
6. Foster a culture of effective communication
flow and two-way dialogue. Make use of every opportunity to connect
with your workforce. Utilize town hall meetings, company banquets,
cross-functional task forces, and the "Ask the Boss" link on the company
Intranet. For engagement to take place, employees must feel like
the company cares about them as individuals and genuinely wants to see
them succeed. You can't fake it; employees know when it's not genuine.
*Look out for the 2nd part of this series next week!
Also, get ready to join the EngageMe revolution on August 1, 2007!
More details next week.*
About B.Williams Enterprise, LLC
B.Williams Enterprise, LLC is a consulting, training, & auditing
company which focuses on service excellence. The goal is to assist
organizations, in various industries, to enhance their levels of customer
service to world-class levels. This can only be achieved by focusing
on service excellence as a way of doing business, rather than an "initiative
of the month". Service excellence must be weaved throughout the organization.at
We exist to serve others so they may better serve the world.