Three Benefits from ‘Taking the Wheel’ in your Business

It was a travel week for me this past week.  A new client relationship took me to the great state of Washington, the city of Kennewick to be exact.  The local hotel hosting the conference provided a shuttle service so a car rental wasn’t a need.

So I phoned the hotel when I arrived to schedule a pick up.  The front desk agent promptly replied, “No problem, I’ll contact my manager and he’ll be there shortly.”  To which I replied, “Excuse me?  Did you say your manager would pick me up?”  “Yes,” she said, “when our shuttle driver is busy, our manager takes care of it.”

Now I wasn’t quite sure who the manager was but sure enough, when he arrived, he greeted me as follows: “Welcome to Washington.  My name is Mark Blotz.  Here’s the kicker.  He was the hotel’s general manager!

Wow.  How about that?  The hotel manager takes time out of afternoon to pick up a guest at the airport.  Talk about service!  As we drove to the hotel, he gave me a quick tour of the area, pointing out items of interest.  My Nashville connection made his radio choice (Toby Keith) an interesting conversation topic too.

Now the natural response to this gesture may be easily rationalized.  Of course this hotel manager could pick me up.  The hotel is a small locally-owned property in a smaller city.  This wasn’t the Marriott so naturally, this kindness was possible.

But before we quickly think of the ten reasons why this special kindness doesn’t apply to our world, consider the three benefits Mark gained by taking 30 minutes out of his day.

 #1  You connect with the jobs you oversee.
He was able to actually perform the job he pays someone to do each week at the hotel. It’s that hands-on experience that helps him see the workplace from the employee’s perspective.  Too often, “management” gets so caught up in managing the business they forget what it is like to perform a physical job of the very organization they lead.  So what about you?  Is there a role or task within your workplace you could perform from time to time?  Consider it.  It will open your eyes to a different aspect of your business.

#2 You connect with your direct customer.
Too often, managers in a company get separated from the paying customer.  Yes, he cares about them but the daily demands of meetings, reviewing financials and putting out fires prevents opportunities to interact with the very reason why the organization exists.

#3  You connect with your employees.
As leaders, “Do as I say not as I do” is a mindset that can slowly creep in to our thinking.  It’s not intentional but can become our philosophy if we’re not aware.  A real benefit of the willingness to jump in, push up your sleeves and perform tactical tasks is the connection that occurs with your employee team.  The unspoken message (that your actions speak) is an acknowledgment that “we” are the team instead of a boss/employee dynamic.  It’s these messages that build loyalty and engagement with your team.

Now back to our hotel manager.  Do you know what really made this gesture interesting?  My client session was on customer service.  What better way to demonstrate the meaning of this critical skill?  My experience was a memorable one so it only makes sense to tell you about this hotel.  If your travels ever take you to Kennewick, Washington, consider a stop at the Clover Island Inn.  Who knows, Mark may meet you at the airport!

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