When I think about my most memorable work experience, my mind takes me to a time when I worked in the hospitality industry. Being a leader in one of the Caribbean’s largest and most famous resorts was as exciting as it was challenging. It was the very first time in my entire career that an establishment was interested in my growth and development. I found that they not only embraced my creativity and out of the box thinking but they developed it and assisted me with performing at my highest potential. Near the end of my tenure at the resort, the last 2 years in fact, I found myself happy to wake each morning to dress to go to work. The long work hours were hardly noticed. The demands and responsibilities of leading the operation of a few divisions at the resort simultaneously were not even felt. I loved the company I worked for; I loved the leaders I reported to and I loved the team members who directly reported to me. I loved my job and I dare say that a huge component of my love for this job was directly related to the culture of the resort.
At this resort here is what I found:
- I felt valued. The leaders were open to hearing my views, suggestions, feedback and opinions. They made it a point of demonstrating they valued me as a leader in the organization by allowing me to operate the areas under my responsibility in ways that were non-traditional and outside of the box. They embraced and incorporated my ideas about people management, guest satisfaction and overall team performance and incorporated some of those ideas into the daily running of the resort. This action was not limited to me but the ideas and feedback of all team members were considered. The resorts leaders were open to hearing what was working, what wasn’t and they didn’t make blanket decisions regarding the guest experience without first speaking to the people who and areas that worked directly with guests.
- Training was a priority at this resort. There was a number mandatory training hours each team member was required to fulfill annually. Leaders were required to take leadership courses in addition to the other course offerings. What I particularly liked about these sessions is that the leaders and line staff trained together. In any training class you were likely to find Vice Presidents, Directors, Managers, Administrative staff and line staff; this allowed best practices to be shared from different job levels and different perspectives. Team members got to see the leaders, interact with them and know who their leadership team was.
- Team Building was important. There was a high focus on employee engagement and fostering a family atmosphere. In the areas under my responsibility in particular, we had monthly all staff meetings and our agenda item always included a team building activity. On a quarterly basis we met as a group to participate in numerous activities that included scavenger hunts, rock climbing challenges, beach Olympics, etc. Our daily operating tasks also included team building components as each staff member was assigned to a team and our daily challenges allowed teams to accumulate points towards wonderful prizes.
- Reward & Recognition was not taken lightly. Focus was placed on highlighting and rewarding employees who received commendation from the resort guest via the resorts internal guest comment cards but also by way of the mystery shopping and other surveys. Team members were rewarded consistently for a number of standards that tied back into the resorts vision, mission and core values.
I can go on and on with today’s blog because there are so many memories flooding my mind as I type. While all of above are wonderful, I particularly loved that the leaders of this resort got involved and joined their teams in the trenches serving resort guests. I loved that they lived the values they wanted their team members to display and they were accountable to their teams.
Creating a culture that promotes employee performance requires a number of components. There are no shortcuts to achieving this goal. I totally agree with Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos when he says “If you get culture right, most of the other stuff will take care of itself.” Truth is if your culture isn’t right, not very much else will be.
Tip of the Week is from an anonymous source: For individuals character is destiny. For organizations culture is destiny.