June 2017 blog
We were hired by a company in Florida to develop and deliver a senior level leadership process. As we were checking into the hotel in Florida I experienced something, or rather did not experience something, that led my mind directly to senior management and what is meant by the phrase, “leaders get their hands dirty.”
There were three check-in lines and 3 to 4 people standing in each line. A few minutes later a tour bus pulled up out front. Now each line increased to 10-12 people deep with customers waiting to register and get a key. A manager opens the door from behind the desk and notices the long lines. He was not in a uniform but in a suit with his name tag proudly displayed on the suit pocket, clearly identifying him as a manager versus a uniformed employee. About that time, I caught his eye. I was now at the front of the line and assumed he was stepping out to help speed up the check-in process. He smiled quickly and said, “Someone will be right with you. Thank you for your patience.” Then he quickly stepped back into the office and closed the door.
It reminded me of calling a doctors office and getting the dreaded recording that says, “Your business is important to us. A representative will be right with you. Thank you for your patience.” Yet, you have probably already been on hold 5 or 10 minutes and thinking, “if my business was that important to you, you would find a way to answer my call quicker. Not to mention, my patience ran out 5 minutes ago.” This hotel manager gave me the same impression. If my business was important to you, why didn’t you step out on the front lines and pitch in? What a wasted opportunity for that manager to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty, and add value with his presence. Even if there were only 3 terminals for check-in, he could have sped up the process by helping the agent with room keys, answering questions, calling the bellman, or escorting people to the elevator. The list of ways he could have added value is a long one and the only way he does not add value…by doing nothing and shutting the door! Not to mention, his team does not feel like he has their backs, nor did he leave a good example to them to pitch in when needed. The guest certainly did not come first.
I know this example may seem small compared to your place of employment and your job responsibilities, but ultimately our responsibility is to add value to our team and our clients. That is what keeps the customers coming back and the team happy and unified, and ultimately, that is what makes the company money. If managers can’t add value in small ways, they certainly won’t be trusted to add value in major ways, and probably don’t. What about you? Are you willing to jump in and help on seemingly menial tasks? Do you even notice where help is needed, or have you stopped looking?
Most of those in line probably did not even notice the manager looking out the door. However, all of them would have noticed him coming out and pitching in.