Vol XI : Change Happens

change wordle

These past few weeks have been full of change for me, both personally and professionally. The changes I’m experiencing have caused me to reflect on the way I handle change, and the ways in which I’ve seen others handle change.

I think there are four categories of people in how they respond to change:

  • Change Agents
  • Early Adopters
  • Converters
  • Resisters

Change Agents

This is the group I consider myself a part of – someone who not only is open to change but thrives on it, encourages it, and embraces it. I’ve implemented changes, large and small, in organizations of different sizes, sometimes at someone else’s direction, sometimes at my own.

Early Adopters

Early adopters are open to changes, if asked they would say “I’m good with it” – they are fine with the changes, volunteer to help implement change, and even seem to encourage others to get on board. I look for these people and pull them close to the process because they help to convince others. Early adopters can become my biggest advocates when I’m implementing a change.


In my experience, most people fall into this category. They don’t love change, and cling to the status quo, or routine, it’s often difficult for them to contemplate the change in terms of the impact it will have on them. This person might seem defensive at first or even difficult but with good information, context, and a little bit of time, they often become advocates as well – and sometimes they become the most passionate once they believe in why change is happening. It’s important for these people to understand the context of a change, that a change is being made to improve something, not just change for the sake of change. One thing that I try to keep in mind is that everyone processes the information in their own way, on their own timetable, so sometimes the right way to bring about change is to let people “sleep on it” and internalize the information before trying to push through a change.


The last category of people seems the same as the Converters at the beginning, but this group doesn’t actually come around. They often live in the past, quoting experiences that are long over, living in the past, unable to grasp even change that we all encounter, like technology, or new processes. They simply want things to be the way it used to be. Unfortunately, they often remember the ways of the past with rose-colored glasses, and not realistically, so you can spend a lot of time working against an unrealistic sense of reality – or memory. These folks may never accept or adapt to change. If you are implementing change into an organization, this is a group where finding compromise is best. Often, their history and work ethic make them valuable employees, and as change gets implemented they eventually “get on the bus” – but they may never truly buy in.

Implementing Change

Change is hard. Implementing change is definitely not easy, but understanding your audience is key. Hold your advocates close and embrace your converters because they can become your biggest supporters, and even acknowledge your resisters because they are part of the team. But understand their differences and give those around you the space, time, explanation and respect needed for them to get to where they need to get to on their own terms – you’ll have better buy in and much more success.

Stephanie Levinson : Finding Your Dream Job

Stephanie Levinson is another great person I met while working at Wynn Las Vegas.  She was the manager of the Parasol Bar, proudly located in the main casino area.  What impressed me then, and still does today, is Stephanie’s positive attitude.  I don’t recall one encounter where Stephanie wasn’t smiling, laughing, or being overall positive in everything she did.  Our paths crossed again through mutual friends outside of work and I’ve had the pleasure of building a great friendship with Stephanie and value the time we spend together.  She continues to be a positive light and is an inspiration by starting her own business, while raising her two beautiful children with her husband Drew.  Take a read and learn how she got her dream job.

Most people have worked a job that they don’t love. I have been there! I know what it’s like to work at a job that you don’t love, but I also know what it’s like to have my dream job and I would love to share what I have learned along the way.

Figure Out What You Want To Be When You Grow Up.
My father-in-law used to say, “Sometimes knowing what you don’t want is more valuable than knowing what you do want.” Consider a “bad job” to be a pathway to self-discovery. Use the experience to your advantage by learning what you enjoy and what you don’t about the job, and allow that to help shape your future decisions.

Try new things! If there is an opportunity to help on a project that you might be interested in or to volunteer for a charity that you believe in, offer to help. Even if you end up not liking it, give it 100% effort because it could lead to something else you really do enjoy. It may lead to a passion you never knew you had.

All of your life experiences are valuable and so are the people that you encounter along the way. Never burn a bridge and always treat everyone with dignity and respect. You never know how your paths may cross in the future.

Land (or Create) Your Dream Job.
Have you ever thought about starting your own business and creating your dream job? For many, money can be the biggest hurdle. Whatever your financial situation is, know that you CAN do it. I’m not suggesting you quit your job today, but with some planning you can make that dream happen.

Come up with a game plan that will help you get there. For example, I started a bank account that I lovingly named my “FUnd.” I set a goal of saving one year’s living expenses and when I hit my goal I had more confidence in my ability to take a chance.

Consider each experience you have as a building block, preparing you for your dream job. I really enjoyed a lot of my previous positions even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I saw them as great opportunities. I used the guidance and experience that I had from each role and learned. When I was financially and experience ready I took the leap to start my own business.

Have courage and don’t be afraid if other people don’t support your vision. The world needs brave people. With proper planning, taking a chance can lead to an enriching life experience and quite possibly, your dream job. Rejection doesn’t mean you failed, it means you had an opportunity to try. Interviewing and not getting the job is a chance to practice and prepares you for the next interview. I know that may seem like a pep talk, but keeping a positive attitude will get you noticed for the right reasons and will keep you mentally on track to achieve your goal.

It’s Okay If Your Dreams Change.
My brother wanted to be a professional hockey player since he was 3 years old. He was fortunate enough to accomplish his goal and he wouldn’t have traded it for the world, but after several years, broken bones and weeks on the road away from his family, his dream changed. That’s okay! We go through many different phases in life that will influence what our definition of a “dream job” is.

Always be honest with yourself. No job is perfect. There will be good and bad days and the money will have ebbs and flows, but if you can wake up most days excited to go to work and not just on payday, you are probably closer to finding your dream job, don’t be afraid to make it happen!

Please join the conversation….


Becky Lewis : Staying Engaged and Loving the Job You’re In

If you are lucky, you meet people in your life that inspire you. Becky Lewis is one of those people for me.  At Wynn when I was new to the hotel division, I felt a bit like an outsider – the newbie.  Becky was one of the most confident people I had ever seen.  She was surrounded by people who were always laughing and she appeared to be the epitome of “one of the cool kids”. 

The first time we actually talked, she had just called off her wedding, just days before the big event.  I found her sitting alone in the employee cafeteria and, like in high school, I awkwardly approached with my tray and asked if I could join her.  I think I said something like “what you did is the bravest thing I’ve heard anyone do in a very long time”.   Of course, at the time, I was in an unhealthy relationship and didn’t have the guts to end it.  To me, this act of bravery, with so many witnesses, was an inspiration.  Shortly after, while borrowing some of Becky’s confidence and bravery, I got myself out of that bad relationship, and Becky and I have been close friends ever since. 

Becky is one of the few people who makes me laugh so much that I have to stop myself from walking just to catch my breath. When you find people in your life who inspire you and who are brave, and make you laugh, grab them and never let go. 

Please enjoy Becky’s guest contribution to this blog and I hope it makes you smile as much as it’s made me smile.


The typical flow of a career is supposed to follow an uphill path. You interview, get hired, do a good job, get promoted and keep climbing the ladder. With each promotion and added responsibility you update your resume to show how special and valuable you are. You feel value with each promotion you earn. But what happens when you don’t want to get promoted?

You finally are in a position you love…the work is rewarding, the pay is good, the schedule is perfect and you realize that you don’t want any more promotions. Wait, what?!?  You don’t want a promotion?!?  How can this be?!?  It’s a place that not everyone gets to and it is a bizarre concept. We spend all our professional lives striving for more. It’s how we feel good about ourselves and how those around us recognize us for our achievements.

Welcome to my world. I have a job that I love, at a company that is beyond compare and I don’t want a promotion. I fought for years to create the position I am in and to build a department with amazing people and to do the work that values our company… and it’s great.  The schedule allows me to enjoy time with my family and my stress level is typically low and manageable.

Now comes the tricky part…how do you stay passionate about a job that is not going up that proverbial hill?  We’ve all been there at work…stagnant, disengaged, in a funk.  As happy as you may be in any job, it is still difficult to stay enthusiastic and maintain that level of reward and recognition that one would normally get from being promoted.

This is where having a life comes into play. I chose to stay right where I am professionally because I know that my work is rewarding for me and having a life work balance is extremely important to me as well. In making that decision, I have to consistently remind myself to stay positive at work by reminding myself about the parts of my job that are better than anyone else’s.

But, more importantly, I also have to live a life outside of work that allows me to feel rewarded and valued. I won many national championships with my horse, I got married, I went back to school and got a degree, I had two kids back to back, I ran a marathon. I’ve done a lot. I know it. My loved ones know it. My work family knows it. I am valuable. I am smart. And I don’t need to be promoted at work to find the value that we often search for.

Yes, I know that I sound like a SNL skit…”I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And dog-gone-it, people like me!”

So, here’s my advice for you… figure out what makes your heart sing both at work and at home and go do those things!  Life is not a competition…but it is about what makes you feel rewarded, fulfilled and making sure there is room in your life for all of it.  Be you, be motivated, be happy and stop worrying about the next step!


Please join the conversation….

Jennifer Holley : Maintaining Your Assets

I met Jennifer Holley several years ago when she was the Manager of The Country Club at Wynn Las Vegas and I was Director of Hotel Operations also at Wynn.  We immediately connected and have been friends ever since.  I value my relationship with Jen so very much and find that we often get in conversations about work ethic, commitment, and empathy.  Plus, she’s super fun to go shopping with!

 I asked Jen if she would offer some words of wisdom on encouraging leaders to create an amazing employee and customer experience.  As expected, she knocked it out of the park!

 Thank you Jen for your contribution, and please, enjoy Jen’s article:

Now that Alyse has set the stage and we have outlined a company culture that supports a healthy work environment, trust, motivation, empowerment and accountability, I want to discuss how we create longevity and sustainability of that environment. Specifically, what is being done to motivate the motivators?

Companies commit time and resources to recruiting and capturing management talent but they often fall short in nurturing and inspiring the talent once they’ve gotten them. You can have the best foundation in place for your company, but if your leaders do not feel a personal connection to your company goals or vision, eventually it will negatively impact your employees and ultimately your customers. Have you ever heard the phrase “People quit their bosses, not their jobs”? Managers leave because on some level, they do not feel connected or valued. Connecting with your leaders can be accomplished in some of the simplest ways. Let’s break it down into three different categories: Time, Talent and Treasure.


The best example of using time as a way to connect with leaders comes from a large corporation where I previously worked. Our Executive Vice President would schedule a lunch or coffee with a different member of management from his team once a month. This allowed the EVP an opportunity to learn about his subordinates in a way that a department meeting would never permit, and it provided the manager direct access to a member of the Executive Team. The investment is minimal, but the impact is tremendous.


In a well-rounded management team, each person has a unique set of strengths. It’s zoning in on those strengths and identifying how they can be leveraged that can help build connection with your team. One way to leverage individual strengths for the success of the team is to identify a challenge one of your teams is currently facing. Identify a team that is excelling in that area and assign the head of the successful team a ‘special project presentation’ to explain their success and possible hurdles they had to overcome to get there. Then provide a forum to workshop, brainstorm and collaborate. By encouraging peer information sharing in a structured and measured way, you find approachable solutions to obstacles and challenges, highlight valuable talent within your team, and make your teams feel valuable and empowered.


Not every company can afford raises, profit sharing or 401k matches. There are creative methods to recognize employees that are meaningful (and effective) and do not require a large investment. For example, my company awards each manager with an additional $100 for every year they have worked with the company, on the anniversary of their hire date. It is accompanied with a card with personal sentiments of gratitude hand-written by our owners and CEO. They also send hand-written cards for birthdays to each manager. My husband’s company also sends hand-written cards with personal sentiments and a gift card (for coffee or lunch) from the CEO on birthdays and work anniversaries. If you are able, award experiences or products as incentives, better aligning your team with the experiences of your customers.  Any of these methods inspire pride and validation. In turn, your team is more inclined to remain loyal to the company and motivated to contribute at a higher level.

Good leaders inspire, motivate and encourage. When they feel supported, valuable and appreciated, their spark is ignited. It is paramount to find ways to support their spark to prevent them from burning out or disconnecting all together.  Having a clear plan in place to continuously connect with your management team will ensure that their personal growth is aligned with the growth of your company. It does not have to cost a lot, but the return on investment is priceless.

Please join the conversation….


Vol VIII: Creating a Recognition Program


In last week’s article, Motivating through Recognition, I discussed the importance of recognizing employees as a form of gratitude and a teaching tool. One of my suggestions was to personalize the recognition, to make it more meaningful for the person receiving it. This week, I’d like to share the guidelines I follow when setting up a recognition program that helps make it meaningful.

Do you even need a recognition program?

It’s OK to ask if it’s necessary, but ask yourself these questions:

  • Is recognition happening consistently?
  • Can others learn by example?
  • Do your employees FEEL like they are being recognized?

If each answer is not an immediate “yes” – then putting a recognition program in place could reinforce those behaviors until they become habit and are happening organically and consistently.

Is recognition sustained?

There is nothing worse than starting a great recognition program, making a few people feel really special, and then having it be forgotten or lost to other priorities. Having a process that is open and communicated will ensure recognition is sustained.

Here are some questions to ask about any process you set up:

  • Is it explicit that leaders look for opportunities to recognize as part of their normal routine?
  • Is recognition documented, staying with employees for future opportunities like promotion or annual evaluations?
  • Do employees know what your form of recognition looks like?
  • How is recognition shared with others so that they can learn from it?

Answering these questions can help lead you down a path to determine if your recognition program is sustainable, purposeful and deliberate.

Is recognition personalized?

Many companies use employee profile systems to allow for staff to express their personal preferences, whether it’s their favorite coffee order, their hobbies or any other information which you can use to personalize the recognition experience if they are to be recognized and thanked for a job well done.

A couple of low/no budget examples:

  • For an employee who likes to read, maybe instead of a traditional thank you card, you create a fun ‘thank you’ bookmark.
  • To recognize someone who takes a regular “coffee break” maybe you can accompany them to get their favorite coffee drink.
  • For someone who offers ideas at meetings, maybe providing some one-on-one time with decision makers so they know their ideas are being listened to.

By learning from and listening to your team members, you have the opportunity to personalize your recognition.

Is recognition fair?

People who are consistent high performers may get recognized multiple times, and you don’t want to play favorites, but it’s not true recognition if everyone “gets a turn” regardless of their contribution.

Here are a couple of ways I look to balance recognition:

  • Recognizing an improvement rather than an absolute contribution.
  • Recognize someone who was able to think outside their normal boundaries for a solution.
  • Recognize someone who is consistent and dependable.

If you have no reason to recognize an employee, you should consider whether they need coaching to get the behaviors you want to reward. The communication, attention, consistency, and support you provide will likely make a significant difference in their job performance.

Recognition connects people

People want to feel connected to people and personalizing recognition helps build relationships. In thinking about recognition, remember that not everything happens naturally and sometimes you have to be deliberate. By creating a program that is sustainable, consistent, personalized, and fair, you can ensure that your employees feel appreciated and valued.

Vol VII: Motivation Through Recognition


Recognizing employee performance is one of the cornerstones of keeping employees motivated and engaged. In my article, “Setting the Stage”, I referenced positive recognition as being one of the key factors in creating a positive employee environment.

Recognizing your employees helps all your employees, the ones who are recognized feel appreciated and noticed by your thanking them for their level of effort and accomplishment. For other employees the recognition reinforces your corporate values by creating examples of the types of behaviors and efforts that you’ve rewarded.

In the best of environments, recognition will happen organically because managers pay attention to what their teams are doing and will notice which team members are excelling. In many situations, recognition can drop off of the radar as managers at all levels focus on efficiency or profitability, something the business is measuring explicitly. The importance of thanking people for doing their job well or going above and beyond expectations goes to the sidelines.

Recognition can take many forms, and not all employees will respond the same way to the same incentives. If you feel like you do praise and reward your employees but your employees don’t feel the same way, then you might not be recognizing them in a way that resonates with them. Once you understand who your employees are as individuals, you will know what’s important to them and what will make them feel recognized and motivated.

Here are some forms of recognition that can be used to personalize the experience for your employees based on what they are most comfortable with:

  • Public recognition – being positively recognized in front of peers and/or to other leaders
  • Monetary – bonuses, gifts or gift cards, increase in wage
  • Private moments – time with the boss – this could be one-on-one walking around the operation, coffee at a local shop, or even dedicated office time.
  • Added responsibility/empowerment – for some, added responsibility shows you trust them, so pile it on! They are ready, willing and able to show you they can succeed!

Understanding your employees as individuals will help you determine which form of recognition is appropriate for each person. For example, one person may take public recognition as form of motivation and continue to exceed expectations, while someone else may shy away from taking chances in the future out of fear of embarrassment.

Recognition is in the eye of the recipient, get to know what motivates your team and try to personalize your recognition to motivate and highlight to others what it means to be a high performer.

Please join the conversation….

Vol II: Setting the Stage


In my last article, we discussed the importance of clarifying expectations by defining and communicating the company’s “true north”, the directional vision your employees can look to in order to better understand performance expectations.

Clarifying expectations and communicating them effectively is the start to a successful employee and customer experience.  It is equally important to create the right employee environment.  The time we spend at work often outweighs the time spent with friends and family.  To have a team work together successfully they should feel valued, respected, recognized, and there must be trust.

Over the years, I’ve heard leaders say things like, “they get paid to do that, why should I recognize employees for doing their job?”, and “we don’t have time to do anything extra, it’s just too busy”, and worse, treat employees inconsistently – unintentionally playing favorites.

From the outside looking in these statements seem ridiculous – how can a leader think this way?  It’s really not that surprising… when we specify our goals in terms of getting the job done, money, time, and efficiency, our leaders respond to those priorities.  For those leaders who have trouble multi-tasking and have trouble with empathy, how we treat our co-workers can take a dead last in comparison.

Building a strong employee culture, environment, and experience is not easy because it may require change, but understanding where you are today and where you need to get to is a good first step.  In determining if the employee environment has a strong foundation, you may have to do some corporate-soul searching:

  1. Do employees have clear expectations on what you want from them?
  2. Do your employees have trust in your leadership team? What is the relationship between leaders and frontline employees?
  3. Are conditions for employees valued – should they be improved or innovated?
  4. Do employees feel recognized when they do a good job?
  5. Do employees feel empowered to help customers? Do they have the tools to do so?
  6. Does accountability exist so that employees feel like everyone is treated fairly?

These are some of the questions you can ask yourself and leadership team to determine if you have a strong foundation for your employees.  If you are a customer-facing (frontline) employee, what would your responses be to these questions about your workplace?

What are your thoughts… please join the conversation.