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.

Time

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.

Talent

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.

Treasure

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 VI: Paying Attention to the Employee Environment

workspace

The influence the workplace environment has on every aspect of your business can be significant. In my article, Setting the Stage, I referenced the environment, asking if there were opportunities for improvement or innovation. It’s natural to become complacent with our surroundings, things you see every day fade into the background. How often are you evaluating the workplace environment? Do your employees engage with their environment and the tools they have available to them? Does your team’s work environment contribute to a more successful employee and customer experience?

There are three areas I look to when evaluating a company’s environment: Space, Tools, and Technology.

Space

Look with fresh eyes – is your team’s workspace organized and inspiring? Does it represent your brand? Here are some things to look for:

  • Does clutter accumulate in corners or on countertops?
  • Do all the tools that employees need have a place in the workspace?
  • Are tools put back into place after use?
  • Do employees struggle to find what they need, or is everything readily at hand?
  • What’s the condition of the paint, flooring, countertops, and equipment?

Fixing the little stuff will make a big difference both to your employees and to your customers.

Tools

Examine the tools your employee use – most jobs need something more than the employee themselves.

  • Do your employees have the right tools for their job?
  • Are the tools in good working condition?
  • Are things “rigged together” – nothing inspires confidence like seeing a tool held together with duct tape or rubber bands.

Employees having appropriate tools will not only make them more efficient, but will reduce the stress of their jobs allowing them to focus on helping your customers and promoting your brand.

Technology

Changes in technology have affected every business, and the pace of change seems to keep accelerating. Choosing when and how to adopt new technologies presents a unique set of challenges. Investments in technology require looking at and beyond the financial implications.

  • Are you investing appropriately in technology?
  • What is the long term return on investment for the technologies you do invest in?
  • How much time will a new technology save your employees or your customers?
  • How much more can your employees do with the technology in terms of cross-selling, up-selling, or up-servicing? Something as straightforward as access to customer profiles and history can make a big difference.

When employees spend hours each day in the same environment inspiration may fade. If you have ever witnessed the opening of a new restaurant, the staff is charged up, proud, and engaged in the surroundings. That level of enthusiasm is hard to maintain, but keeping the workplace fresh and the tools relevant and working can make a significant difference to morale and can help solidify relationships between leaders and team members, as well as customers.

Please join the conversation….

 

Vol III: Clarifying Expectations

clarity

If you are following this blog then you know that so far we have discussed the importance of defining and communicating our “True North”, and we have examined the employee experience by asking 6 important questions. Let’s look at the first of those questions:

Do employees have clear expectations of what you want from them?

Do your employees know:

  • how to deliver the customer experience you envision?
  • what you want them to say?
  • how you want them to act?

Here’s an example:

There is a clothing store I frequent and when I enter the store a sales associate welcomes me. Sounds great, right? However, during most of my experiences there, the sales associate is somewhere stocking or folding and maybe even behind a display. So, when I walk in and hear someone welcome me and I can’t see that person, I feel confused instead of warmly greeted.

It may sound insignificant to include a training detail like: “when greeting, be someplace where the customer can see you”, but the sales associate is probably being told that their priority is to keep the displays neat and folded. Ultimately the sales associate is attempting to greet every customer, but are they doing it so that your business is getting the impact, or experience you were hoping for?

We often expect everyone on the team to “get it” but the truth is only some people have the natural ability to make others feel valued and important. For the rest, we have to be very clear on what that looks, sounds, and feels like.

Take a moment to review this list of face-to-face behaviors and take the time to determine if you have clearly defined these for your team:

  • Initial greeting –
    • What does “welcome” sound like? Formal or casual? Is it scripted or can the employee ad-lib?
    • How close should they be when they make eye contact? 10 feet away, 5 feet away, as soon as the customer enters the establishment, etc.
    • Is there anything else necessary to convey the experience you want your customers to have? Body language, facial expression, tone of voice?
  • Initial Interactions
    • What do you want to communicate in the first contact? Specific information or just the general culture?
    • Should the employee initiate the communication, or start by listening and responding appropriately
  • Customer Satisfaction
    • Do your employees know what they are empowered to do for a customer?
    • If a customer has a specific request beyond what the employee is empowered to do, how should they handle it?

Take the time to define these behaviors for your employees and you can save yourself the coaching and correcting and the business will benefit from the clarification.

What are your thoughts… please join the conversation.

 

 

SE I: The Post Office Experience

post office pic

I took this picture at the post office while I was waiting in line.  You might notice the little “thank you” at the bottom right of this sign.

Your company may spend tons of money and time on perfecting aesthetics, design, and the “welcome” you want to show your customers when they enter your space… but do you have employees sabotaging that effort – maybe unintentionally?  How often do you view your work spaces through the eyes (and feelings) of your customers?

Vol I: Supporting Your Brand… Defining True North

imageedit_1_9536282543

This week’s article is the first, so I had to really think about where to start.  The best place to start is at the beginning, right? So, I want to start with building a foundation and for me, that is defining who you are and clarifying the expectations you have for delivering what you want.  This week’s article on defining “True North” helps not only leaders but all employees ask important questions to determine if their company has clearly defined and communicated those expectations.  Please share your experiences as well!  

Every company has a ‘brand promise’ – whether they spend a lot on marketing or it’s a small local business.  It’s the expectation you set for your customers.  The challenging part is getting a group of people – the employees – to fulfill that promise.  This may be achieved by developing an internal vision or “True North” – a direction that everyone understands, can follow, and deliver against.

Companies that meet or exceed their customer’s expectations consistently and have a healthy employee culture usually have clearly defined their ‘true north’ and communicated it to their employees effectively.  Each member of the team must understand their individual role and responsibilities in delivering a customer experience consistent with the company’s brand.

Does this sound like your company?  If not, here are some questions you could be asking:

  • Do you have a shared vision or purpose that articulates for all employees what your brand promise looks, feels, smells or even tastes like so they can deliver consistently to your customers?
  • Are your goals clear internally so every employee can be successful in achieving those goals, no matter how big or small their role?
  • Is the directional vision – or True North – a clear and easy to understand vision to help your team achieve the company’s goals?
  • Is your internal messaging easy to remember, worth buying into, simple to perform to, and motivating to the staff?

Defining and communicating your company’s direction is the first step.  Importantly, communication should come from the entire leadership team, starting from the top.  Although grassroots efforts are admirable and in some ways effective, messaging is more powerful and sustainable if the leadership buys in, supports, and communicates it from the start.

 

What are your thoughts… please join the conversation.