“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” This quote from Nietzsche seems apt when suggesting to 70% of the population that work could be your love made visible, as we discovered one balmy evening while listening to music. What’s it really take to create great places to work? We say the investment is care, commitment, and conversation. This is part 1 of a 3-part series.
During the season my wife and I go to “jazz on the beach” at a large chain hotel in our town. It has a beautiful large deck overlooking the ocean, good jazz, cold drinks and hot food. What’s not to like? How about possibly the worst service ever?
While we’re willing to trade an otherwise beautiful Wednesday night out for poor service, we’d never stay at nor recommend this hotel. As regulars we’ve learned how to get our needs met, rearranging chairs, getting our own silverware, and virtually forcing the servers to take our same order each week.
One evening I said to my wife “if only a manager would ever come out and just see what I see. Not a server in sight, people without food or beverage, where are earth could the servers be, and doing what?” Suddenly the clouds parted, angels sang and a manager approached us with two place settings. We felt we had won the lottery that night.
I asked if he had a minute and if he was interested in some feedback. He said yes and I obliged. He empathized with my complaints, as he had the same ones. That’s why he brought us our silverware. He shared his perceived obstacles:
- His numerous pep talks with the staff fall on dead ears.
- It’s too hard getting good help, after all, we’re talking servers.
- His unsupportive boss wouldn’t even let him hire two new servers despite his case for a positive ROI.
- He’s been told by the boss they’re not in the hospitality business, they’re in the real estate business. It’s all about filling rooms and the P&L statement.
This man had decades in the business, even owned his own business once. But he was beaten down and resigned. I shared that it doesn’t cost more to create a great place to work, just a different perspective and attitude. Also, great places to work are more profitable. He would pass on what I shared but didn’t believe his boss would care. Anything sound familiar?
Six free beers and a discount code later my wife remarked, “funny what a difference a conversation can make.” The bigger difference though came the next week as we walked through the doors out to the deck. Before we made it to our seats our usual waiter walked past and asked if we wanted our regular drinks. Our jaws dropped. Our food came out promptly and even the other servers seemed busier than usual. Friends who had been there earlier noticed the obvious change and we explained last week. I asked our waiter if we’d unintentionally gotten him into trouble last week and he said no, they had just talked.
As the evening winded down so did the service, and I wondered just how informed all the servers were of best practices. Regardless of role, every one has a best of class version that can be learned. The next day I shared with the manager my appreciation of the improved service and also the possibility that there were other very simple, no-cost ways to move things forward, like making it appealing for their best servers to share best practices and why they work.
No matter where you’re starting from, there are always opportunities for greatness, and it needn’t cost much at all. As Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed,it is the only thing that ever has.”
Since this is in our own back yard, I said my partner and I would be willing to speak with the boss and help him create profitable possibilities for the business. There was one caveat: he has to care. We don’t raise the dead. But if there is care and commitment, having a profitable, satisfying great place to work is possible. We’ll see how it goes while it’s still jazz season on the beach.
Meanwhile, what is YOUR workplace like? Consider the following:
- Does everyone in your workplace have all the tools, training and resources to do their job optimally?
- Do all the employees have a clear sense of their purpose, one that is meaningful to them?
- Before you can have a workplace where everyone’s rowing in the same direction employees need to feel like they’ve mastered their craft. What’s one change that will move people in that direction?
In Part 2 we’ll share a story of business done right that knocked our socks off!
Meanwhile we have some practical tips and paths to greatness to share in a free eBook we will be offering in September. We’ll keep posting and you stay posted!
And if this anecdote sparks anything, please comment!
MasterCoaches is all about creating great places to work
Great places to work serve all the stakeholders, from customers to shareholders to partners. We believe that people are the heart of any organization. They are your true competitive advantage. If you don’t attend to them, however, they become the monkey wrench in your operation.
We believe in expanding awareness and possibility for all people to feel alive, on purpose and connected to their greatest potential and possibilities. And we live this by creating great places to work, because that’s where most of us spend the majority of our waking hours.
If you want to be a part of a great place to work, we invite you to contact us and have a conversation. The roots of the word conversation mean “changing together.” We invite you to jump in and invent the future you really yearn for!