Archive for December, 2011

Does Service Training Founder on the Shoals of Management Indifference?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

I recently read an internet-posted news article entitled, “Disney Offers Customer Service Training.”  The article written by Adrian Sainz talked about Miami International Airport employees taking customer service training from the Disney Institute, a division of Walt Disney Company set up to teach its principles and practices to other companies.  Here’s where we’ll pick up the story . . .

“Now the Institute has taken another client: Miami International Airport, which many travelers will tell you needs customer service training like an airplane needs wings.  Surveys rank its service among the nation’s worst.  The airport’s terminal operations employees are taking classes taught by Institute instructors, learning leadership practices, team building, staff relations and communication skills – many formulated by Walt Disney himself.

“Part of Disney’s lure is the feelings generated by its films and theme parks – magic and wonderment for children, escapism for adults.  Disney takes great pride in ensuring a fun time and repeat business, mainly by emphasizing customer service and attention to detail while trying not to appear too sterile or robotic.

“Miami International Airport is a gateway to and from the Caribbean and Latin America.  About 32.5 million passengers passed through the airport in 2006, including more than 14 million international passengers.  But among 18 U.S. airports with 30 million or more passengers per year, only three airports performed worse in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2007 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.  Miami received below average scores in accessibility, check-in, security check, baggage claim and overall satisfaction; average scores in terminal facilities and food and beverage; and above average in retail services.

“Early in the training, a handful of Miami airport managers visited the Magic Kingdom, where they were shown examples on how paying attention to detail and removing barriers were integral in making guests happy and keeping them informed.”

The article went on discussing various techniques used by Disney to enhance customer service.  While I found the article somewhat interesting, it was the three reader comments posted below the article that caught my attention.  Here they are:

  1. “I worked for a medical practice in Georgia that sends a few of their employees to Disney for training each year.  Our patients (guests) really responded well to our new customer service guidelines.  However, management really needed to attend the training as well as the regular employee.  They became complacent in their ‘ivory tower’ and expected all of us to treat the patients well (and of course we did); however, management needed to extend the same courtesy and good manners to their employees.  In the past 3 months the company has had record turnover and still harbors a large disgruntled employee pool.  No idle words . . . ‘Treat others the way you would want to be treated.'”
  2. “When we returned, all 1st level management (the ones dealing with the customers) were asked to implement the Disney experience to our daily activities.  To this day we have weekly meetings with our senior management to report how our teams are embracing the changes.  Unfortunately many of the associates treat it as ‘the flavor of the month’ program to improve customer satisfaction.  We are still trying to make a culture change with our staff.   The most unfortunate part of the Disney experience was that although our senior management went along the trip I am yet to witness the impact it had on them when dealing with us 1st level managers.”
  3. “I agree with the posters (above) who feel that senior management should lead by example and treat their subordinates with dignity and respect.  It just seems like common sense, that when employees are happy and feel well treated, this will filter down to the way they treat the customers.  Everyone in an organization deserves to be treated well and this makes for optimum performance.”

Three of the four postings by readers made the same point about management.  This would seem to suggest the obvious:  that without the active involvement and example of leadership (and service-based leadership at that), improvements in customer service will not happen.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Guest Blog: How to Become a Self-Starter

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Consider yourself lucky if you have an amazing boss. Unfortunately, mentors are not easy to come by. Whether or not you are one of the lucky few to work with a great motivator should not make a difference in what you are able to accomplish. Even with a talented mentor at your side, it is important to learn to be a self-starter.  Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen yourself.

Becoming a self-starter can help you achieve any goal. Self-starters can stand up and take control of any situation. Moreover, they can get more accomplished in a shorter period of time. This ability can help you reach your goals faster and on your own terms.

Set Clear Goals

You must define your goals before you can start working toward them. If you want to be successful, start by defining what success will look like to you. Be as specific as possible about what you want to achieve.

After you know what you’re working towards, you need to set up long and short term goals. Start off with something you want to accomplish within a year, and then set up short term goals that will help you get there. Using short term goals as stepping stones for long term goals will help create a plan of action.

Make Detailed Plans

Once your goals are defined, it is time to figure out how you will achieve them. The key to reaching your goals is to create a specific action plan.  Your plan should be comprised of short, actionable items that can function like a checklist. Set up action steps with deadlines that will keep propelling you forward.

Treat self-imposed deadlines the same way you would if they were provided by a boss. Being able to stay on task is a huge part of becoming a successful self-starter. Just because you set the deadline doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be accountable for keeping it. Consider sharing your plan with a superior or team member. Making someone else aware of your deadline can help you keep the necessary sense of urgency.

Never Put Things Off

Procrastination is a self-starter’s mortal enemy. Putting things off won’t help you in the long run.  Though it might seem easy to set a task aside, it will only add more stress as the work piles up. It might be tempting to push back a deadline if you’re really busy, so you have to remind yourself of why you made the deadline in the first place.

Every task, step and deadline affects your goals. One missed deadline can easily snowball into more. The point of being proactive is to assure that you accomplish everything possible to help you reach your goals. You will make things a lot more difficult for yourself if you make a habit out of putting things off.

Keep Track of Your Successes

Motivation is a driving force behind a self-starter. When you are working toward larger goals it might feel as if you will never get there. One of the benefits of creating a plan based on actionable steps is that you will accomplish many of your short term goals along the way.

Remember to acknowledge the small accomplishments that you’ve made. Each step brings you closer to reaching that final goal. Keeping track of your successes will remind you of how far you’ve come. Moreover, you can use your successes as a learning tool. Think about what you did right and what you might have done differently. Use what you’ve learned to increase your efficiency for your next step.

Remain Positive

Worrying about failure is a waste of time and energy. Instead of fretting, keep your energy focused on the work. When stresses come up, refer back to your action plan. Redirect the stress into a specific action. Working through your worry can remind you that you are on your way to reaching your goals.

Bumps in the road are inevitable, but it’s how you handle them that will determine whether or not you are successful in the end. Keep an optimistic attitude and power through. Every successful task should help alleviate your misgivings.

Becoming a self-starter will help you achieve professional and personal goals. Organization and focus will go a long way towards helping you reach those goals. Stick to your action plan and don’t let doubt get in the way of your accomplishments. You already have the ability, so make your plan and stick to it.

This post was written by Erin Palmer on behalf of Villanova University’s online programs. Choose from a variety of topics such as IT Service Management, Project Management, Six Sigma, and more!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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A Book Every Leader Should Read

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflicts

A little personal history:

In 1988 I took on the challenge of reinvigorating an historic university-owned hotel in the grip of a downward economic spiral.  The deteriorating physical condition of the property was an issue which could be fixed with time, attention, and money.  The larger problem was the need to improve the efforts of a demoralized staff.

Among my initiatives to address the hotel’s issues, I drafted a one page statement of standards – The Principles of Employee Relations – to guide the management staff in their treatment of employees.  The first principle I wrote was, “All employees will be treated with dignity and respect.”  Though the word “dignity” came easily to mind, I had no true idea of its import and its critical role in human relations – that is, until now.

Donna Hicks and a deeper understanding:

dignity-158x240Donna Hicks has given us a beautifully written and profoundly important book.  Her nearly two decades of work in international conflict resolution as an Associate at Harvard University’s Weatherford Center for International Affairs has provided her with a unique perspective on the dynamics of conflict.

Dr. Hicks has worked with such luminaries as Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and Harvard Professor Herbert Kelman on some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, the Palestinian Question, the Troubles of Northern Ireland, and the civil war in Sri Lanka.  Based on her extensive research, she has formulated a unique and keenly insightful New Model of Dignity which allows us to explore the essential role of personal dignity in human relations.  Her premise is that when a person’s dignity is violated, as it so often is in various personal and public settings, deep-seated resentments then lead to conflicts seemingly beyond resolution.

According to the author, “When we are treated badly, we get angry, feel humiliated, and want to get even – often without being aware of the extent to which these primal reactions are driving our behavior.”  Despite the impressive intellectual achievements of our species, our psyches are quite fragile and easily damaged by both real and perceived slights.

But, as Dr. Hicks says, “We do not deliberately hurt each other just for the fun of it.  We are often unaware of the ways we routinely and subtly violate each other’s dignity.”  To overcome this universal behavioral failing we must do three things:

  1. Become aware of the problem,
  2. Learn that there are ways to handle the problem, and
  3. Make the changes necessary to honor individual human dignity.

“If we continue to ignore the truth and consequences of [dignity] violations,” says Hicks, “we will remain in an arrested state of emotional development.”  This simple, yet far-reaching truth can cripple the progress of relationships at every level of human affairs.

The book’s structure:

In the book’s introduction, the author explains The New Model of Dignity and the theoretical research supporting her conclusions.

She then lays out the Ten Essential Elements of Dignity and in successive chapters discusses each element with examples from her conflict-resolution experience.

To further illuminate the dignity model, Dr. Hicks also posits the Ten Temptations to Violate Dignity, and provides anecdotal support, powerfully moving in emotional content, to reveal how people come to grips with assaults on their dignity and how they struggle to find resolution.

The final section of the book entitled, How to Heal Relationships with Dignity, is a potent testament to the healing power of identifying dignity violations, acknowledging vulnerability, and making a genuine commitment to honor the dignity of others.

Why is this important to business leaders?

Beyond the moral issues of honoring each person’s dignity – their basic human worth – there are important practical implications for the recognition of dignity in the business arena.

No business can operate efficiently or provide high levels of service to its customers without the willing commitment of its employees.  But the leadership challenges of achieving this commitment are significant.  As Roger Enrico, former Chairman and CEO of Pepsico said, “The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”

So what are we talking about when we speak of the soft stuff?  In short, it’s the “people skills” – those aptitudes, abilities, and relationship skills employed to assure the significance of each employee’s contribution.  It is the exercise of leadership involving the highly nuanced interactions within a diverse workforce that results in motivation, high levels of morale, enthusiasm, focus, commitment, organizational cohesiveness, and group success.

Given the essential role that a person’s dignity and sense of self-worth plays in an employee’s contribution to any enterprise, leaders must become aware of the Ten Essential Elements of Dignity and the Ten Temptations to Violate Dignity.  Finally, leaders at all levels of an organization must work to change their subtle and unintentional affronts to the dignity of others.

Bottom line – Because people matter, it pays to treat them well by honoring their inherent dignity, but leaders have to know how!

Conclusion:

This is an important book with broad implications beyond conflict resolution.  It should be read and studied by any leader who cares about followers and who wants to elicit his or her employees’ highest level of commitment and contribution.

The Book:

Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflicts, Donna Hicks, Ph.D, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2011

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Guest Blog: Member Activation Goals for the New Year

Monday, December 5th, 2011

“Failures don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan” – you’ve heard it said in many ways, but it always rings true.  Coined by syndicated columnist, motivational speaker, and best-selling author, Harvey MacKay, it means that by setting goals, determining specific courses of action, and carrying out the steps to attain those goals, you are more likely to achieve success than if you had not done so.  Whether you are trying to shorten your club’s sell list, lose weight, or learn a new language, a little planning goes a long way.  Now that we’re on the brink of a new year, consider this the perfect opportunity to set your goals for a fresh start in the new year.

Let us focus on creating a member activation marketing plan as an example.  The best planning happens when you understand the background:  your marketplace, your club’s position within the marketplace, the demographics and profile of your “average member.”  Without this knowledge, your plan will merely be guesswork.  A member activation marketing plan does not need to be a lengthy dissertation, but it should include several vital components that are all built around the framework of relationship building; knowing as much as you can about your members will help you understand how best to get their attention.

Begin by setting a realistic overall goal in support of the club’s mission and vision statements.  Our overall goal will be “to create and generate word-of-mouth marketing by making every member and guest experience at the club an outstanding one.” Think about creating a sense of pride that is contagious.  Now, list several objectives that will help achieve the overall goal:

  • Personally connect with ten members per week to foster stronger relationships and increase member recognition.
  • Inform and engage front-line staff to spread the word on club events and membership opportunities through informative weekly meetings.
  • Continue to build pride and increase awareness of club events through weekly eCommunications and monthly eNewsletters which clearly reflect the club’s brand and are targeted towards members’ individual interests.
  • Join community groups and leaders and attend regular meetings and events on behalf of the club to build awareness of your club within the marketplace.
  • Involve fellow managers, membership committees and/or boards of directors in the conversation, where necessary, to help ensure success while also keeping in mind that you can create and execute parts of the plan on your own.  A budget for each objective should be included where applicable, although most of the above objectives can be implemented with no additional cost whatsoever, just a bit of commitment and effort.

For each objective, determine a timetable, track results, and periodically review outcomes.   If, for example, we meet our objective of connecting with “ten members per week,” we will have personally connected with 500 members over the course of one year (less a few weeks of well-deserved vacation, of course!).  By charting your weekly “connects,” you can easily see where you stand compared to your plan and can adjust if you fall behind so that the objective is never overwhelming.  Think of it as solving one piece of the puzzle at a time, instead of trying to complete the whole thing at once.  Reaching out to everyone all at once is much less effective than connecting on a personal level with each of the 500 one at a time over the course of a year.

During your periodic reviews, you may find that a change of course or the addition of another objective is necessary.  That is perfectly acceptable; this is a living document and should adapt to ensure the best possible outcome.  If an opportunity arises that will help move the plan toward a positive outcome, by all means add it to the mix.  Conversely, should one objective not mesh or become a detriment to the overall goal, delete it and move on.  At the end of the plan’s cycle, review and memorialize your results, determine your next goal, and begin the working on your next cycle of success.

While you may think I’ve oversimplified things, the fact I hope I have illustrated is that the entire process can be as involved – or simple – as need be.  If the above plan fits your needs, by all means STEAL IT!  After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.  Now think about it for a moment – how will you plan for member activation success in the new year?

jill-melbye-63x801About the Author:Jill R. Melbye is a Principal and Certified Marketing Professional with MAI Business Services. She has worked within the private club industry for 15 years and conducts seminars and provides marketing support to the hospitality industry. She is also the publisher and author of “Membership & Marketing: From A to Z”, MAI’s quarterly eNewsletter.  For more information, please contact Jill at jill@melbye-assoc.com, or visit the website www.melbye-assoc.com. Follow her on twitter! www.twitter.com/jrmelbye

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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