Energize your business: 3 simple behaviours that improve employee engagement and service scores

At The Ritz-Carlton, I used to work with a Director of Sales & Marketing who was not very present in our day to day sales operation. He didn’t need to be - we were a very efficient team and knew he would be available if we needed him. Busy with strategy, he was often away in meetings or in conference calls. Despite not spending a lot of time with him, he had my utmost respect and my admiration for him motivated me to be successful at my job. Reflecting about his leadership style, I realized that he used a simple gesture that I have seen again and again in good managers:

Great hoteliers shake hands. 

At times, he would walk into my office, reach out his arm for a handshake, check in on how my family was doing, whether I was happy with my business pipeline or had any obstacles in closing business. This simple, but rare gesture of a handshake went a long way. It made me feel appreciated as a valued member of the team. His handshake indicated that he trusted me and relied on my success to support our team goals. His trust also opened up our relationship to being able to discuss ideas, suggestions or possible difficulties and therefore was a relationship in which I felt supported by management. 

The more I thought about handshakes, the more I researched them and found a great study commissioned by Chevrolet UK that summarizes what is important in a handshake:

  • use your right hand
  • have a dry palm
  • place your fingers under receiving palm for a strong grip
  • shake hands for three to four shakes (or two to three seconds)
  • maintain eye contact

Another simple, yet powerful, gesture that I have noticed is this: 

Inspiring hoteliers write thank you cards. 

If you are working with a larger hotel company, this may already be part of your corporate culture in one way or another. Marriott International, for example, has its own “facebook-like" social media where good performance is being recognized on the employee’s profile. But if you run a business that doesn’t have the means to develop such technology, don’t be disheartened!  To make a simple “thank you” work for your employee engagement and therefore your bottom line, the act of gratitude has to be:

  • in writing 
  • specific 
  • personal and
  • in front of colleagues or superiors 

Recognizing good performance has a positive impact on your business as it reinforces what you want your employees to do more of. Also, recognition matters more than money to most employees, as discovered by this study.

Print simple “Thank you” cards or post-its with your company’s logo and distribute them to your team. By having them handy it makes it quick and easy for your team to use. Prepare your cards of appreciation before the next team meeting and read them out loud before giving them to your colleague. Some colleagues may blush, but from my experience most will be motivated to do more great work. 

Another great way to encourage colleagues to thank each other is this: Place a large whiteboard with every team member’s photo along the top of the board in the common area of your offices. Each “thank you” post it gets stuck under the employees photo and it will soon become a fun race to see who receives most thanks! 

In most organizations, thanks get shared via email. This is efficient and so accessible, but emails get deleted or moved quickly and are often only acknowledged for a short period of time. Picking up pen and paper is worth it when it comes to saying thank you! 

When I last went to my hairdresser and was gazing up to the ceiling while my hair was being washed, I noticed thick dust on the duct work, light bulbs that were burned out and missing blades in their ceiling fans. It really surprised me as it’s a salon run by friendly, well-groomed employees and I knew by how they answer the phone that they had been trained in customer service. I couldn’t help but be disappointed by their lack of attention to the ceiling and it created a slight doubt in my mind about their cleanliness overall. That made me think of another behaviour engrained in leading hoteliers:

Smart hoteliers notice details and act upon them. 

To many in the hospitality industry, it feels natural to stop to fluff a pillow in the lobby, pick up dust from a carpet and remove a wilted flower bud from a flower bouquet. There are colleagues who are in charge of the flowers and the pillows, yet nothing is as powerful as seeing a manager caring this much about the little things. It sends a message of cleanliness, trains other colleagues to do the same, shows humility by being hands-on and instills trust that also other areas of the business are being run immaculately. 

To put this into practice:

  • equip your team with the tools needed to act;
  • name a daily “detail ambassador”; and
  • make it part of your briefings

For example, have a glass-cleaner with clean cloths available to allow your front-of-house employees to clean fingerprints on glass doors, tables and mirrors when there is a quiet moment. Make lint rollers available to them to remove hair on sofa cushions, hand-held broom and dustpans or anything else that enables them to correct their environment. 

While your goal should be to train everyone to have a keen eye for detail, naming a rotating “Detail Ambassador” whose job it is to keep your space flawless throughout the busy opening hours is a great way to ensure ownership. All businesses clean overnight, but all too often changing room floors are full of dust and hair, bakery counters have fingerprints on them, or an empty Starbucks coffee cup sits on a lobby table for hours. 

Let’s sum it up:

Some of these behaviours may seem like common sense, but is common sense always common? Get in touch and let me know what behaviours you have observed in great leaders around you!