DOs and DON’Ts of Onboarding

The saying, “you never have a second chance to make a first impression” is often applied to people, but the expression is also true for organizations. Your new hires will form lasting impressions within their first few days of on the job, resulting in employee engagement or employee apathy. The following DOs and DON’Ts will help you create a memorable and impactful onboarding program for new employees.

DO have an official process

New employees shouldn’t arrive on their first day and have it seem like a surprise—as if no one was expecting them. They shouldn’t be dumped at a desk or in a waiting area until someone figures out what to do with them. At The Ritz-Carlton, we offer our customers, “a warm and sincere greeting,” and new employees receive the same. This doesn’t mean you have to hire a marching band or organize an officewide flash mob for an employee’s first day of work. However, when a new hire arrives, he or she should be warmly welcomed and there should be a process in place that introduces the new hire to your culture and his or her position. When new employees are embraced on their first day, they will start to feel a sense of connection, and if their first days are planned out and meaningful, they will begin work with a more favorable impression of your organization.

DON’T delay the onboarding process

Some organizations wait months before onboarding employees. The problem with waiting is that you are not setting your employees up for success. At The Ritz-Carlton, new employees are on boarded before they begin their new jobs. Our three-day onboarding process immerses new hires in The Ritz-Carlton culture and begins setting the expectations for them. If employees begin work without understanding your organizational culture, then they will be learning on the job and practicing on your customers. They will also have the impression that training and culture are not priorities for your organization.

DO make it a significant emotional experience

There is often a great deal of paperwork when employees begin a new job. While much of this paperwork is necessary, the goal of your onboarding process should be to connect with your new employees emotionally. Think of your onboarding process as the beginning of a new relationship. If you were going out on a first date with someone and you were asked to fill out a bunch of paperwork—or given a handbook to read instead of conversation—you probably would consider that a lackluster beginning. The reason it is called employee “engagement” is because you need to engage your employees.

DON’T talk at employees

You can engage your employees by making your onboarding process more interactive. Don’t just lecture your new employees. Involve them in onboarding by including team-building activities and make learning more memorable and fun. Consider different methods of training. Instead of telling new hires how to interact with customers or patients, try role-playing different scenarios for them. It helps to get new hires up and moving as well. Consider taking them on tours of your facilities.

DO be consistent across your organization

Sustaining a service excellence culture requires consistency, and you can only achieve consistency if everyone is hearing—and able to articulate—the same message. Whether your new hires are C-level executives or frontline employees—your onboarding program should be effective for all levels of your organization. At The Ritz-Carlton, our employees, known as Ladies and Gentlemen—from managers to housekeepers—attend onboarding together. This melting pot approach to culture immersion not only ensures consistency but shows our Ladies and Gentlemen that everyone is responsible for enlivening our culture.

DON’T overload employees

You’ve hired a new employee because you need him or her to perform a specific job, and it may seem counterproductive to spend too much time on the onboarding process. You may be tempted to cram two days of information into one day, or you may sacrifice more creative activities in order to get new employees out of training and into their new roles. However, you should give employees time to absorb all the new information and acclimate to your culture. The study Getting On Board: A Model for Integrating and Engaging New Employees notes that 90% of employees decided whether they will stay at an organization within the first six months on the job. When you stampede employees through a condensed onboarding, you will most likely prevent them from making the emotional connections needed to retain them at your organization.

DO pass the baton

After employees complete your onboarding program, their training should continue. They should seamlessly transition into their day-to-day roles with the continued support of a supervisor or a mentor who will help them grow and develop. 

Join us for a one-day symposium, “An Introduction to Service Excellence,” on October 13, 2016 and hear about the strategies and concepts that produce a sustainable culture of service excellence at The Ritz-Carlton. Sign-up by June 30th to take advantage of the early-bird rate

Significant Stat: Work Passion and Career Ambition

“Today more than twice as many employees are motivated by work passion than career ambition (12 percent vs. 5 percent), indicating a need for leadership to focus on making the work environment compelling and enjoyable for everyone.” (source)

Advice from Jeff Hargett, Senior Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

When I think about passionate employees vs. ambitious employees, I don’t believe someone is either one or the other. I surmise that each of us has both traits, like hunger and thirst, joy and despair. My thoughts instead are drawn to the act of “motivating.” If an employee is motivated by passion, they tend to gravitate to those activities that feed their passion. Passion seems to be more “heart” related—while ambition is thought of more intellectually or “head” related. Passion is motived internally; Ambition, externally. The thoughts of an ambitious employee take us to the intersection of “Getting Ahead Avenue” and “Climbing the Ladder Street.” John Hagel III states the importance of worker passion beautifully in his article, Passion versus Ambition: Did Steve Jobs have worker passion?, saying “Those (large traditional institutions) that have employees focused on learning and performance, who embrace new challenges and experiment with new ideas, will have a better chance of navigating a complex and shifting global environment than those with a workforce focused on racking up positive performance reviews and climbing ladders.”  Whether you are passionate or ambitious, finding what motivates you is most important.

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.

Significant Stat: Employee Motivation

93% of employees who feel valued by their employer are motivated to do their very best for their employer. (source)

Advice from Joseph Quitoni, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

At The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, there is a defined and deep-rooted culture of service excellence, referred to as our Gold Standards. One of the components of the Gold Standards is our 12 Service Values, which create engagement at both the employee and guest level. These were developed not only to underpin leadership’s commitment to driving a positive culture, but also to acknowledge a variety of important and unchangeable aspects of our company’s past and future success. An integral part of that success is our employees and allowing them to feel valued. One of our Service Value states, “I am in involved in the planning of the work that affects me.” This Service Value comes from the Total Quality Management perspective of being involved in the work processes that directly affect us. It boosts employee motivation and prevents employees from becoming a “warm bodies” at work. It actively engages employees to volunteer ideas, approaches and solutions in those areas where a meaningful contribution can be made. When leadership involves employees, it shows that they respect the opinions and contributions of their employees. All of this contributes to a sense of value, pride and joy in the workplace. We all have a desire to learn, to grow and to contribute. We also like to know that others have noticed. When someone asks for your opinion, essentially they are confirming the respect they have for you—that your opinions count and that you are a valued asset of the organization. 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.

Our Ladies and Gentlemen: Rajesh Khubchandani

Each month, The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center (RCLC) features an interview with an employee—Raj Khubchandani
also known as a Lady or Gentleman of The Ritz-Carlton—in order to share an insider’s view of the organization. This month’s interview is with Rajesh Khubchandani, General Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, the host property for many of our courses.

RCLC: Please tell us about your career with The Ritz-Carlton.

Mr. Khubchandani: When I graduated from hotel school in 1990, I knew that I was going to find a way to work for The Ritz-Carlton. I began my journey in Asia working at several high-end hotel companies. Then I then joined Marriott Hotels in Canada but still had the goal of working for The Ritz-Carlton. In 1997, I was finally able to join our brand as Director of Operations for The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common.

I was part of the opening team for the hotels of L.A. LIVE: The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, JW Marriott, and The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Los Angeles. I then served as Hotel Manager for The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles within that multi-branded development. It was very exciting to be in the middle of the re-emergence of downtown L.A., and The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles was the red carpet hotel for events like the Emmys, the ESPYs, the VMAs and American Idol. I returned to Boston Common for my first General Manager position and I’ve been at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner for almost two years.

RCLC: Why do you enjoy working here?

Mr. Khubchandani:  I like the cross-functional relationships that one has with peers, direct reports and our corporate team. Our people are extremely bright, incredibly dynamic and very humble and that is a powerful combination. It keeps me grounded and motivated to come to work every day.

RCLC: On that note, Ritz-Carlton is known for its employee retention. Is there a particular aspect of our culture you think drives that?

Mr. Khubchandani: We truly walk our talk. We don’t just have Gold Standards. We live them. There are very few companies, even hotel companies, that empower their employees in the way that we do. Our employees, known as our Ladies and Gentlemen, have a voice in the work that affects them; they have a voice in the future of our business; and they know that their actions can directly impact the success of our business. Knowing that your opinion is valued helps with retention.

RCLC: When you have a new Lady or Gentleman, how do you convey our culture to them?

Mr. Khubchandani: For a hotel General Manager, sharing our culture is the biggest challenge and also the biggest opportunity. It all starts at orientation, and then you must convey culture by rewarding right behaviors. Recognition and positive reinforcement for actions Ladies and Gentlemen take—especially in their first year in the company—has to be a key priority. Behaviors can become habits if you nurture them, encourage them and reinforce them.

RCLC: How do you engage your Ladies and Gentlemen in “less glamorous” positions?

Mr. Khubchandani: “Less glamorous” is a really important way of saying “the most difficult jobs in the hotel.” You have to explain to the heart-of-the-house departments—laundry, stewarding and housekeeping—that have a very large physical component in their day. Then you must help them understand how significant their work and individual action is to not only the overall success of the business, but beyond that to what The Ritz-Carlton experience is. Our Brand Promise gets broken if a housekeeper’s bad day affects 14 guests. You have to get employees to see the value and impact of what they do. If there’s a disconnect, then we haven’t done a good enough job in telling the story, engaging them and giving them the right tools and resources so they can be successful in their jobs.

RCLC: What about engaging leaders, especially those who may be new to your property?

Mr. Khubchandani: We talk about engaging our guests with experiences, and in our own small way, we try to engage our leaders through training, leadership recognition programs, some outings and meetings. For example, in our leadership meetings every two weeks, we have a variety of guest speakers from our corporate office, industry contacts and other properties. Ed Staros, Vice President and Managing Director of The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, talked to us about the history of The Ritz-Carlton, and recently, representatives of Marriott’s Digital eCommerce team spoke to us about how our new brand voice is going to pull through on digital and how we’re going to use social media in the future. We try to create fireside chats and levels of engagement for our leaders that are beyond the day-to-day hotel industry.

RCLC: How do you see customer service evolving?

Mr. Khubchandani: Today’s customer is changing. They’re not looking for predictive experiences; they’re looking for engaging experiences. They want a reason to come back to you besides the TV and the 400-thread count linens. Adaptive service is the way of the future. We talk to our Ladies and Gentlemen about picking up on cues and providing more intuitive service to our guests.

RCLC: Tell us about mentorship in your role.

Mr. Khubchandani: Mentorship is key. It separates good and great organizations. I’ve benefited from mentors that worked with me in a safe environment—allowing me to ask questions and make mistakes and even fail. I currently mentor a half a dozen employees, including a valet who parks cars for our guests. I’m mentoring him because he wants to learn how he can be a head valet, then a conference concierge, and then concierge in the club lounge. I’m helping him elevate his perspective in order for him to achieve those goals. Mentoring—providing opportunities to learn and develop—is key to talent retention and low turnover.

RCLC: What other leadership practices are important to you?

Mr. Khubchandani: Servant leadership is one of the guiding principles that has allowed me to be a General Manager. My primary goal is to serve 400 Ladies and Gentlemen who come to work each and every day at this hotel. So everything that I do, and plan to do, or endeavor to achieve, is driven around how I can add value to those stakeholders. I take that aspect of my job very seriously. I do everything I can to make an impactful difference for the Ladies and Gentlemen who work at this hotel. My job is to enable them. 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.

Significant Stat: Feeling Valued

Employees who report feeling valued by their employer are 60% more likely to report they are motivated to do their very best for their employer. (source)

Advice from Joseph Quitoni, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

When organizations have a culture of service excellence, they can provide employees with a greater purpose well beyond the basic functions of a job. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company’s culture of service excellence rests on its Gold Standards. The 12 Service Values—that are an integral part of the Gold Standards—drive employees to think about their greater purpose rather than their day-to-day tasks. Many of the Service Values create an environment that emotionally engages employees. For example, Service Value 9 states: “I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.” This principle invites our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—to volunteer ideas, approaches and solutions in those areas where a meaningful contribution can be made. When leaders involve their employees in the planning of the work that affects them, it shows that leaders respect the opinions and contributions of their employees. This in turn contributes to a sense of “pride and joy” in the workplace resulting in organizational success.

Join us for a one-day symposium on November 12th. The day includes a Ritz-Carlton executive panel with Herve Humler, president & chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

Inspired Thinking: Empowerment and Trust

“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” – Booker T. Washington, American Educator, Author, Speaker, and Advisor

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

Leaders have many tools they can use to help the individuals on their teams succeed. However, empowering your employees is one of the most impactful ways to demonstrate that you trust them. When you empower employees to make decisions without asking for managerial approval, you’re trusting them to make the best choices for your organization. The Ritz-Carlton has built a culture of empowerment and gives our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—the resources to take care of our guests. After all, the customer experience is in the hands of our Ladies and Gentlemen. Empowering our Ladies and Gentlemen not only shows that they are trusted, but also enables them to spontaneously create memories for our guests that stay with them long after they leave. 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. 

Inspired Thinking: Excited About Work

“I feel sorry for the person who can’t get genuinely excited about his work. Not only will he never be satisfied, but he will never achieve anything worthwhile.” – Walter Chrysler, Founder of Chrysler Corporation 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

It’s quite simple. If your employees are not excited about their day-to-day responsibilities, they won’t work as hard to complete their tasks. Additionally, they will not provide you with their best work. These employees are disengaged. In order for an organization to actively engage employees, the leadership needs to help staff see beyond function—the day-to-day tasks—and connect with a greater purpose—the mission of your organization. Employees who see a bigger picture will recognize that they are contributing to a greater purpose within your organization and consequently, will bring more passion to the workplace and be more excited about work. The employees of The Ritz-Carlton, also known as our Ladies and Gentlemen, understand from our Credo that “the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.” When your organization’s culture includes a clear message of purpose, you give your employees the opportunity to transcend identifying themselves solely by their job function. What does your organization do to inspire employees to volunteer their best every day?

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. 

Dear Ritz-Carlton: Employee Motivation?

Dear Ritz-Carlton: How does The Ritz-Carlton motivate its employees?

The above question is from an attendee atSymposium: Your Journey to Service Excellencein April. Answer from Alexandra Valentin, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

Head Shot Alexandra Valentin

At The Ritz-Carlton, we strongly believe that employee motivation starts with the right selection process. Our selection process helps us identify employees who are already motivated, and the on-boarding process begins instilling “psychological ownership” to the brand from the beginning. According to an article by Data Freaks, “psychological ownership is defined as the extent to which an employee feels as though their organization or their job is ‘theirs,’ (i.e., ‘this is MY company!’) to the point that the company becomes an important part of an employee’s self-identity.”

The Ritz-Carlton builds on this sense of ownership through employee empowerment. Each employee is encouraged to go above and beyond to create unique, memorable and personal relationships with our guests. This empowers our employees—known as the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton—to make decisions, craft special moments and resolve customer issues. Empowerment moves employees beyond passivity and simply being a “warm body” at work.

The Service Values of The Ritz-Carlton also foster a sense of psychological ownership. Each Service Value begins with the word “I.” Using the pronoun “I” not only reinforces each individual’s contribution, but also promotes accountability and ownership. It encourages our Ladies and Gentlemen to volunteer ideas, approaches and solutions—whether they are problem solving or innovating—and that is motivating. 

Join us for a one-day symposium, “Your Journey to Service Excellence.” The day includes a keynote speaker, a Q&A session with The Ritz-Carlton executive panel, an optional networking reception and presentations about legendary service, employee engagement and a customer-centric culture.

Inspired Thinking: Give 100 Percent

“The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.” – Andrew Carnegie, Founder of the Carnegie Steel Company 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

Creating lasting relationships requires one to be genuine, present and to have his/her “radar-on, antenna up” 100% of the time. Just like in everyday life, business relies on the strength of relationships. Each guest interaction must build upon the relationship—whether it is a warm welcome to a long-time customer, recovery from a guest incident, a small gesture to surprise and delight your customer or a fond farewell to a new customer whom you hope to see again very soon. When you invest 100% of your energy and ability in providing a first-class customer experience, nothing will stand in your way to accomplish what you wish to provide each guest, each day. At The Ritz-Carlton, we believe in being “on stage” when we interact with our guests. This means 100% focus on their experience and creating a memory that stays with them long after they leave. Does your team give 100 percent? 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. Join us at our Symposium: Your Journey to Service Excellence. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation. 

Rewarding and Recognizing Employees

In an interview at Stanford Business Graduate School, former talk show host Oprah Winfrey told her audience: “At the end of every interview from the murderer to Beyoncé, the question everybody asks is, ‘Was that OK?’ ‘How was that?'” It seems all of Oprah’s guests were looking for one thing—validation. We want reassurance that we have done a good job.

This seems especially true at work. According to the report “The Impact of Recognition on Employee Retention” from Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker, 39% of employees feel underappreciated at work, and 77% admit they would work harder if they felt better recognized.

Rewards at The Ritz-Carlton

At The Ritz-Carlton, we believe in recognizing employees for their contributions. The Ladies and Gentlemen—the employees of The Ritz-Carlton—give each other First Class Cards whenever they want to express gratitude for outstanding work. Ladies and Gentlemen can also be nominated for the annual Gold Standard Award.

Each year up to five winners are chosen based on their ability to consistently and positively impact Guest Engagement, Employee Engagement, Community Footprints®  (The Ritz-Carlton social and environmental responsibility program. See interview with Sue Stephenson for more information.) and other Key Success Factors at The Ritz-Carlton. The Gold Standard Award recognizes an elite group of Ladies and Gentlemen—at all levels—that exemplify exceptional service and a commitment to The Ritz-Carlton philosophy.

Gold Standard Award winners are outstanding professionals who have gone above and beyond the duties of their roles, providing lateral service to their fellow Ladies and Gentlemen, and anticipating and fulfilling the needs of their team and the organization as a whole.

Story of a Gold Standard Award Winner

The Destination Services Coordinator from The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island was one of the 2015 Gold Standard Award winners. She earned the award due to her outstanding work, her dedication to The Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards and for her passion for helping those less fortunate. Last year, this award winner was instrumental in finding an anonymous donor who contributed $14,000 (USD) to build a foundation for an accessible park for disabled children and their families. There was land already designated for this venture; however, the planning committee was hesitant to use any resources to develop the park due to the lack of existing foundation.

The Destination Services Coordinator worked with a developer, determined the cost and was able to find an anonymous donor who sponsored the foundation for the park. Her genuine caring was key to the opening of the “Pirate (Freedom)” playground in May 2014. Now, the community has a new park where any child, regardless of physical limitations, can play.

In addition, the Destination Services Coordinator donated her time through the Succeed Through Service® program to the local Boy’s and Girl’s Club, to help prepare children with the skills they will need in their future careers. With the help of local partners, she organized a community service day with over 1,400 participants that resulted in a $170,000 (USD) impact on the community.

The Destination Services Coordinator also helped the hotel earn the Regional Community Footprints Award. Most likely, this exemplary employee would contribute above-and-beyond work whether she received awards or not, but even high performers like to be recognized.

Importance of Recognizing Employees

Author Stephen R. Covey noted in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival, to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.” Recognition programs are a great way to showcase outstanding efforts, but appreciation in any form—including a simple “thank you”—can boost employee engagement and make the work day happier for all. 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.