Tag Archives: communication

3 Ways To Give Feedback That is Actually Helpful

If you're an effective leader, you know that waiting for the annual review to give your employee feedback is an utter waste of time. Ongoing, in-the-moment feedback is the best way to provide your employees with information that

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4G Leadership: Gravitas – Not Just A $5 Word



Mark Twain memorably said, "Don't use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do."  He makes an excellent point. But in the case of gravitas there simply is no other word that encapsulates this multi-faceted leadership trait.

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3 Elements of Executive Presence




When people describe someone as a "natural leader" they are generally responding to a combination of traits known as executive presence. If you're  looking to strengthen your leadership, here's 3 elements you should consider.

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3 2016 Leadership Books You Should Put On Your “To Be Read” List


You've made it through the Mother of All Mondays and 2016 is underway. There are new ideas coming down the pike and here are 3 to keep an eye out for. Find original ways to champion creativity, communicate effectively and memorably, and tackle challenges with forceful persistence.

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3 2015 Leadership Books You Should Go Back and Read




It's Book Week at LeaderSips...first up, here's 3 must-reads you may have missed in 2015. Learn how to think on your feet, build a team through unconventional means, and change behavior that will last.

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LeaderSips: 3 Reasons Your Career Is Stuck




Feeling stuck? Wondering why other people seem to magically find new opportunities and professional growth? You might actually be sabotaging yourself. Start off 2016 with a fresh outlook, and consider these 3 sips...

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3 Reasons Your Employees Stay




Gone are the days of staying at one company to collect your 30-year pin and gold watch. So, what is it that entices workers to stay under your leadership? Continue reading

Building Connections

welcome back

It costs 7 - 10 times more to recruit a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Some would argue that every guest should be treated the same. I disagree. A good and loyal customer should be treated differently. Not better, but differently.

When speaking about regular customers, legendary restauranteur Charlie Trotter said, “We know more about them; there should be an incentive to being a regular customer.” The more you know about your guest, the better, more customized service you can provide that guest. There are plenty of customer relationship management software tools out there, or if you do not have those, a simple database in Act, Excel, or Outlook will work as well.

It's not just hotels and restaurants that can benefit from this practice. Doctors, accountants, car washes, grocery stores... any service oriented business should be looking for ways to build vital connections. In hospitality, the reservation process and check-in experience is a two-way street. We are taking information from our guests, but we should also be gently probing to learn the reason for the visit, preferences, and possible needs during the stay or the meal. This gives us cues and clues as to their expectations and needs.

Sometimes there is a temptation to go overboard for a returning guest or VIP. If you've done your homework, you'll know who will be happy with “Hello it’s nice to see you again, we’re glad you’re here” and who wants a visit from the Chef.

Here's an example. Last summer I received a call from a friend who was traveling to one of our cities for a family funeral. Clearly shaken by events, he asked if I could make a reservation for him at our hotel. He's a regular customer at most of our properties but had never been to this one. Of course I was eager to help him. As I was discussing the reservation with the GM, the question of rate came up. The GM was getting ready to give him a super-discounted rate. But that is not what my friend was looking for. He wanted attention... he needed attention...  and he had earned attention by virtue of his many stays at our other hotels. He gladly paid top dollar. For him, it was about the connection. Once he and the GM met, I stepped out of the loop and a new loyal customer was born for this property.

In my opinion, time - not money - is the most precious commodity there is. You can earn more money. But once that particular Saturday night is gone, it's gone for the ages. Returning guests are not only spending their most precious commodity on you, they are not spending it on a competitor -- and if you treat them properly, they never will.

Want to Train Me? Involve Me.

(A brief recap for my newer followers... I'm currently living in Honduras, running a small hotel as training center and teaching hospitality management to high school students in a bi-lingual program.)

involve me

Chances are you've heard the old adage (attributed as -to name a few - a Chinese proverb, a Native American proverb, and a Ben Franklin proverb...)

Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I'll remember. Involve me, and I'll understand. Click To Tweet

It's so simple, it's easy to forget the powerful truth behind it. With my huge handicap of not understanding 80% of what is spoken around me and to me at the hotel, I have become a case study for why this works.

A small example. Last week there was a change in the way our credit card transactions were processed. It was a small change having to do with entering the tax amount. Unfortunately, my co-worker decided to share this news with me just as I was about to process a transaction for an organization that is normally tax-exempt, although this transaction was not. He told me about the change, but with my limited Spanish, I thought he was reminding me to remove the tax for the group. Cue the painful exchange of me insisting this transaction was supposed to have tax (con impuesto! con impuesto!) and him telling me how to process it using a new procedure I didn't know existed.


Imagine how differently that would have turned out had he just asked if he could demonstrate the new procedure instead of telling me how to do it. Imagine again how much better off I would have been had he taken the time to involve me by explaining the change during a slow period, instead of when I was trying to get our client taken care of and on her way.

When the "telling" for all intents and purposes does not exist, the "showing" and the "involving" become vital.

Stop and think about your training method. Do you perform "informational hit-and-runs?" Do you think because told someone how to do something, you've trained them? I think back to the hundreds of conversations I've had with frustrated General Managers who don't understand why their line employees and leaders don't do what they're told. My questions were always, "Have you shown them? Have you involved them? Have you explained the 'why' behind the 'what'?"

A few weeks ago I taught night audit procedures to our 11th grade. It's a dry topic and after reviewing some critical terms, we went straight to case studies. The relief in the room was palpable. By doing, they were understanding far more quickly than had stopped after telling them the process or after demonstrating it on the white board.

This reminds me of a favorite acronym from Anne Lamott: WAIT - Why Am I Talking? If you find yourself doing most of the talking during a training session, you're doing it wrong. Telling ain’t training. We are visual beings, so much of our communication is absorbed through our eyes. But it's the involvement that really makes it stick. How many times has someone driven you to a location but you can’t recall how to get there — but if you drove there yourself you could?

Coach your students and employees as they try it themselves. Develop good questions that help them make connections on their own. Revisit after they've had some time to put the skill or knowledge into practice.

At the end of the school year I asked each of my classes what parts they enjoyed the most. No surprise is that it was the practical work at the hotel. They understood why diplomatic communication was so important when they had a cranky guest. They understood why safety was so important after they dropped a tray of glasses. They understood why room cleanliness was so important after they read their first TripAdvisor reviews from guests they assisted.

Involve your students and they will understand.

Managing Up

managing up

I received an email last week from a 20-something whom I've coached in the past asking me, "have you ever had to hold your boss accountable?" She's frustrated because a large part of her role is providing administrative support to a director who is, shall we say, less than effective in teensy areas like time management, prioritization, and communication. What I believe she was really asking me was, "how do I manage up?"

What is managing up? It's building a successful working relationship with your boss or superior so that everyone wins. Powerful people need powerful people surrounding them - ones who are creative, take initiative, and have their back. When you manage up, your boss feels supported, you feel challenged, and the organizational goals are met.

It's more than being a "yes" person. It's about creating a scenario in which you have the ability to influence, even when that means taking a hard line or delivering bad news.

Chemistry is key when it comes to managing up. So your first step is to build a relationship. While it is true that there can be instant chemistry, healthy relationships rarely develop overnight. As with any healthy relationship, this one must be one based on respect and trust, so start now looking for ways to demonstrate those critical qualities.

And before you start staying, "well, what about her? where is she in all of this?" keep in mind, this is about managing up. My views on effective leadership are well documented.

The next step is to learn and anticipate needs. Find out what her priorities and goals are. Find out what she values. Find out where she needs help. Find out what sends her over the edge. And then take these into account when managing projects, deadlines, and most importantly, your own behavior.

And finally, remember that leaders are people too. You have absolutely no idea what is going on in her world - both personally and professionally.  She has a boss that she reports to too, and she's probably trying to manage up as well. Don't automatically assume the worst. A little tact and diplomacy can go a long way in getting to a win-win result.