Significant Stat: Personal Credit

Workplace Challenge

“The bigger the teams, the more individual members of a team ‘over-claim’ their contributions.” (source)

The Ritz-Carlton Perspective

When teams collaborate on a project—share ideas, solve problems together—it may be difficult to determine who gets credit for the work, and no one wants to appear as the weak link on a team. Research shows that on large teams, people are likely “to inflate their own contributions while diminishing their team members’ work.” Assistant Professor Juliana Schroeder at Haas School of Business points out that “asking people to report others’ contributions before their own tends to force people to be more accurate about self-reporting.” At The Ritz-Carlton, our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—are encouraged to “create an environment of teamwork and lateral service,” and not focus on taking personal credit. This collective commitment to service helps take the emphasis off of individual performance and reduces the sense of competition among peers.

Etiquette & Engagement: Resilient

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and Gentlemen are resilient when working as part of a team.

Teamwork drives many of today’s workplaces regardless of setting or industry, which is why it’s critical to make sure it’s done in the most effective way possible. A key competency of an effective team is the ability to move together in the same direction without being sidetracked by obstacles. Showing resilience while working with others will help your team make more effective decisions and make progress at an appropriate rate. As an individual, you must ensure that you are open to exploring others’ ideas and action plans and not work only to advance your own agenda. Although you may think what you’ve presented is the best idea or strategy, it’s important to be resilient in the event that your contributions are ultimately not put in place. Staying fluid in this context will allow you to refocus quickly and find ways that you can support next steps and show your team that you are ready to continue providing your insights and energy going forward. The whole team must also be able to bounce back from any setbacks and have the perseverance to find new ways around obstacles. Expressing resilience will ultimately save you and your colleagues a lot of energy, which can then be rechanneled into producing the best product and services you can provide.

The motto of The Ritz-Carlton is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto sets a tone of goodwill and grace for all.

Etiquette & Engagement: Restrained

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are restrained when communicating by email.

Stop before you click send on that half-baked email you’ve got started in another window—is it really necessary to send this email? Could the message you are trying to convey be better delivered over a phone call or a quick trip down the hall? Sending email has become such a knee-jerk solution to sharing information, but it’s not always the best solution. This is especially true if you are problem solving or brainstorming. If your message is not the beginning of a conversation and can be conveyed in a single email, then email is probably your best form of communications. However, if you anticipate that the message you’re sending will be the first of a thread of 20 or more messages that eventually includes a group of people, think twice about beginning an email conversation. This might be a good time to use a more collaborative software tool or application. Or perhaps a meeting is a better choice. Good old-fashioned conversation can help you clarify what other parties are saying and is often a more time-efficient way to resolve issues. In addition, when you’re responding to clients, it’s often a WOW and more personal for them to receive a phone call from you rather than a generic email. At The Ritz-Carlton, our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—know that effective communication is critical to serving our guests. By giving an extra second to thinking about whether an email is the best way to reach out, we can respect each other’s time by streamlining communication.

The motto of The Ritz-Carlton is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto sets a tone of goodwill and grace for all.

Servant Leadership: Persuasion

Each month The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center (RCLC) asks leadership experts questions about servant leadership. Our topic for May is how servant leaders use persuasion rather than an authoritarian style of leadership. This month’s servant-leader experts are:

  • Daniel Pink, New York Times bestselling author and named as one of the top 10 business thinkers in the world in 2015
  • Tanveer Naseer, Award-winning leadership writer and keynote speaker

RCLC: A servant leader tends to be less authoritarian and more persuasive or influential. What are the pros and cons of each of these methods?

Daniel Pink: The problem with authoritarian leadership is that it’s a form of control. And human beings have only two reactions to control. We comply or we defy. But what most leaders really want from the people on their teams is for them to be engaged and committed. The way to do that, in many cases, is for the leader to serve the team by providing opportunities for self-direction, helping people make progress, and allowing them to make a difference in the world or a contribution to others.

Tanveer Naseer: One pro that comes with favoring influence over using authority to lead people is that your focus is less on you and more on how do you connect what matters to those you lead with what you need to accomplish. The con that leaders need to be careful of, though, is falling into the trap that in order to gain influence we need to be popular.

Remember, what people need is trust in your integrity to do what you say you’ll do and how you’ll support them to succeed. In so doing, you’ll be able to influence others because those you lead will better understand where you’re coming from. And even if they don’t understand the long view, they will trust that you have their needs and their organization’s best interests at heart.

RCLC: What lessons have you learned or have you observed that have affected how you persuade your colleagues?

Daniel Pink:Perhaps the biggest is attunement. I’m not sure we naturally take another person’s perspective, but I’ve found it’s a key to persuasion. So I try to get out of my own head and see things from the other person’s point of view. What are they thinking? What are their interests? How can I find common ground?

Tanveer Naseer: One of the lessons I’ve learned about how to persuade others is that you can’t approach it as though it’s a zero-sum game; that one of you has to lose for the other to win. If you want to persuade those you lead, you need to understand what matters to them. What are their pain points and concerns, and how does your proposal impact or address them.

The easiest thing a leader can do is fall back on their title or position as the reason why others should follow their decisions. While your employees may fall in line, they won’t be fully invested in the decision and consequently, they’re not bringing their best efforts to the table.

That’s why we need to be able to persuade those under our care by connecting what matters to them to what matters to our organization.

RCLC: If a servant leader has a strong vision about the direction the organization should take, can the leader move forward without consensus? Or will that undermine trust and influence in the future?

Daniel Pink: It depends. Sometimes consensus is the enemy of excellence. Wait too long to get everyone on board—and the train might leave without you. So the context is key here. There are certain high-stakes decisions that require everyone feeling comfortable and agreeing with the course of action. But in many other cases, it makes more sense to have a robust discussion and make sure everyone’s voice is truly heard — and then pick the best path, even if some disagree.

Tanveer Naseer: I think leaders can absolutely move forward with their vision if they don’t have consensus — if they are doing so because they know it’s the right path to take and not simply to serve one’s ego. We have to remember that at times it’s hard for our employees to see the long view because their focus is rightfully on the day-to-day. As such, our decisions might not seem like the best course of action.

But if we’ve demonstrated that our focus is not on being right, but on doing right by those we lead, moving forward without having consensus won’t undermine our influence in the long run because as things progress, your employees will begin to better understand why you had to take the stand you did. And that will help you to build trust going forward in the decisions you need to make on their behalf.

RCLC: Is persuasion a “one-size-fits-all” approach, or do you have to modify your approach depending on the audience?

Tanveer Naseer: As with any type of communication, it’s critical that you shape your message to fit your audience. And the reason for this is simple — it demonstrates both a respect for your audience, but also a deeper understanding of who they are and what are their needs.

When people see that you’re making the effort to better understand them and what they care about, it becomes easier to persuade them to follow your lead because they’ll see that you’re approaching this from a common perspective and communicating in a fashion that reflects what they need to hear to get on board with your vision or idea.

RCLC: At The Ritz-Carlton, leaders are encouraged to “lead by walking around” and therefore, have regular face time with their Ladies and Gentlemen. Does persuasion work for leaders who spend most of their time sitting at their desk and in meetings?

Daniel Pink:  It probably works less well than it would if they got out there and mixed with employees, customers, clients, members, or whatever stakeholders they might have. Business writer Tom Peters got this right three decades ago. He called it Management by Walking Around, and I can see why it’s used at The Ritz-Carlton. The more you interact, the more you know and are known — and, in general, that can only enhance your persuasive powers.

Tanveer Naseer: I can’t imagine how leaders who spend most of their time in meetings or at their desk can be persuasive for the simple fact that they’re spending most of their time on things that matter to them, but not necessarily on the things that matter to those they lead.

Too many times, I’ve seen communal devolve into an arthritic culture of “Anyone can say no but no one can say yes.” Just because we involve a wide group of people in the decision does not mean that everyone will get their wayit only means that we are dedicated to hearing everyone’s opinion.

It’s also important to note that persuasion only works if there’s a relationship between the two parties based on understanding and respect. If you’re not spending a good part of your day walking around getting to know those you lead and their realities, you won’t have much influence as your employees don’t really know or understand what you’re about and what your real objectives are.

So while we might think that we can’t afford to do it, the truth is if you want to influence others, you need to get out and engage with those under your care.

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: “Overwhelmed” Employees

66 percent of HR respondents believe their employees are “overwhelmed” by today’s work environment. (source)

Advice from Jennifer Blackmon, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

There are numerous reasons why employees might be feeling overwhelmed at work: staff turnover or inaccurate staffing models, an influx of new customers, significant changes in the work environment or unrealistic expectations. Another reason why employees may feel overwhelmed is due to broken or overly complex processes. Desire and caring are at the heart of every great service experience, but it is the process (or the science of service) that allows employees to have the time to express it. When processes—the systems that are in place to get your work done—are inefficient or include rework and inconsistencies, they become a tiresome frustration for the staff. At The Ritz-Carlton, we take a streamlined approach to our processes. We also ensure that we train to our processes and include written direction. If a team discovers that a process is broken or no longer working, then that team creates the new process. The outcome is an engaged workforce that looks for ways to improve and innovate as well as customer service scores that set the benchmark in the industry.

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

Etiquette & Engagement: Thoughtful

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are thoughtful when communicating by email.

According to an email statistics report, the number of emails sent and received per day in 2015 totaled over 205 billion. Perhaps this explains why so many people feel as if they are drowning in email. It also points to the need to be more thoughtful in our email communication. Sending an email is free and easy. Therefore, you may be tempted to send email without thinking about the impact it has on someone else’s time. Before pressing send, you should determine whether the content of your email is of value to all of your recipients. This is particularly true when beginning a conversation with multiple colleagues over email. Being thoughtful of your co-workers’ time is always appreciated. You should make an effort to not only copy the right people on the email, but also take people off an email conversation when their participation is no longer needed. The employees at The Ritz-Carlton—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—are committed to creating “a work environment of teamwork and lateral service.” In order to be a respectful team member, you must strive to keep your teammates informed but remain mindful of your colleagues’ workload. Ladies and gentlemen practice thoughtful communication by eliminating extraneous messages. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

DOs and DON’Ts of Workplace Friendships

Friendships at work may seem like a potential distraction to productivity, but research from Gallup points out that employees who find a best friend at work “are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher quality work, have higher well-being, and are less likely to get injured on the job.” Workplace friendships clearly have a lot of bonuses. However, when you are the boss, workplace friendships are more complicated. You may consider yourself friends with your employees, but friendships cannot eclipse your responsibilities as a boss. The following list of DO’s and DON’Ts will help leaders navigate workplace relationships.

DO express interest in your staff

It’s important to be professional at work, but professional does not mean cold and distant. Leaders who remain aloof and detached will have a hard time building trust with their employees. Global Officer, Worldwide Operations at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., Bob Kharazmi, notes, “Leadership is about effectiveness, and effectiveness comes when you create relationships with your team. Your influence is dependent upon the relationship you have with your team.” When you take the time to get to know a little about your employees—find out what their hobbies are, the names of their pets, their favorite sports team—you are showing you care. Consequently, your staff will feel recognized and more valued.

DON’T show favoritism

Pretend you have 10 people reporting to you. Chances are that you will connect with one or two of your employees better than the others. You may be tempted to spend more time with the employees you enjoy most, or give more attention to the employees you feel are doing the best job. However, when one employee appears to be receiving perks due to a friendship, colleagues can become jealous and employee morale suffers. According to the article “The Dangers of Playing Favorites at Work,” even “subtle indications of favoritism … can be … frustrating to employees and detrimental to company culture.” The article also states that, “at extremes, favoritism can lead to lawsuits.” As a leader, you must strive to treat all of your employees with the same amount of care and appreciation.

DO respect your employees’ privacy

One of the Service Values at The Ritz-Carlton vows to “protect the privacy” of fellow employees. Your employees may share confidential information with you from time to time. Regardless of whether they are telling you as a friend or as a boss, your role is to practice discretion and honor their trust in you. You must also be understanding—and not take it personally—if employees choose not to connect with you over social media. Some of your staff may prefer to keep their work life and personal life separate.

DON’T forget to ask about challenges

If an employee has shared a personal crisis with you, be sure to follow up and check in with that employee. Expressing concern by asking, “How are you?” can be a great first step, but avoid asking too many questions. You don’t want to seem as if you’re spying or prying. Be sure your employee is aware of any services your organization offers that could be helpful—such as counseling or legal help. According to research from Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, 47% of all employees reported that the stress from a personal problem impacts their work performance. Expressing compassion is important and right. However, since you and/or your team will possibly be taking on extra work to support this employee, you have to ensure that you don’t over-extend your staff for the sake of a friendship.

DO remember that you are the boss

Because you are the boss, you have a significant impact on your employees’ careers. Most likely, you are giving them performance reviews, recommending them for promotions and even deciding if they should lose their jobs. It’s important for employees to be in your good graces, and this means that their praise may not always be completely genuine. While some employees may blatantly “kiss up” to a boss, others may be more covert in their insincerity. You may feel an employee’s friendship is not motivated by ambition or selfishness—yet in hindsight, you may discover that it was self-serving all along. Leaders can be particularly susceptible to disingenuousness. The “Field Guide to the Social Climber” cites a study that shows, “when you are the object of effusiveness, you fail to recognize the brown-nosing not out of vanity but rather from a desire to be liked and admired.”

DON’T let friendship get in the way of hard conversations

Being a leader means that you need to give feedback, select whom to promote or demote and possibly even lay off or fire an employee. When you become friends with your employees, these difficult conversations become even more challenging. The article, “One Out of Every Two Managers is Terrible at Accountability,” claims that “by far and away the single-most shirked responsibility of executives is holding people accountable.” Adding friendship to a work relationship can make accountability more difficult. Leaders who try to sidestep confrontation may dread disciplining friends, and no one wants to be in the position of deciding whether to lay off their friends.

Importance of Relationships

One of the Service Values at The Ritz-Carlton begins, “I build strong relationships….” This includes relationships with customers and colleagues. You can determine the parameters of these relationships. In other words, you may not want to invite employees over for dinner parties. However, it is important to talk and connect with your employees. Building strong relationships at work will create an atmosphere of care, respect and appreciation and will help everyone work together more effectively. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

Etiquette & Engagement: Prepared

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are prepared when attending a meeting.

The purpose of most meetings is teamwork, communication and forward momentum. When you’re unprepared for meetings, you slow down the process. Ladies and gentlemen do not keep colleagues waiting while they run back to their office for their notes or race to the copy machine to make extra copies of the agenda. You should arrive at your meeting with any necessary resources—laptop, pen, paper, handouts, etc. You should also complete any “homework” prior to a meeting. When people have not completed their pre-meeting tasks, forward momentum becomes more difficult and in some cases—impossible. Your team may not have the data to make important decisions, or worse yet, your team moves forward and makes decisions—without critical information—in order to stick to a pre-determined time frame. When you’re unprepared for a meeting, you risk holding everyone else back. At The Ritz-Carlton, our colleagues are our internal guests, and our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—strive to “create a work environment of teamwork.” Being prepared for meetings strengthens teamwork, shows respect for your colleagues’ time and sets the team up for greater success. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

Etiquette & Engagement: Supportive

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Engagement Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are supportive when working as part of a team.

It’s great to be on a winning team but not so great to be on a whining team. You may feel like your teammates need too much hand holding, aren’t carrying their weight or are missing deadlines. However, it’s doubtful that complaining about the quality of their work will improve the situation. Criticism—even when made behind closed doors—can weaken team dynamics because it destroys trust, puts others on the defensive and creates division within the team. Rather than griping about your disappointing team members, consider looking for ways to assist others. Perhaps offer suggestions of ways your team could improve performance. At The Ritz-Carlton, each of our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—strives to “create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service.” Effective teamwork not only improves employee camaraderie, but also ensures that your team can deliver the best customer experience. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

Etiquette & Engagement: Unselfish

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Engagement Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are unselfish when conversing with others.

People like to talk about themselves. According to a study cited in Time, “we spend almost 40% of conversation talking about ourselves.” It may feel good to prattle on about your own life, but a one-way conversation is more like a therapy session or monologue than a conversation. If you truly want to connect with others, you need to make a habit of asking questions and then being quiet and listening. Avoid the temptation to turn the conversation back to your own experiences and instead focus on learning more about the other person. Listening is an integral element in the art of conversation. At The Ritz-Carlton, we strive to “build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.” We build these relationships by engaging with our guests—by asking open-ended questions, listening carefully and responding appropriately. Conversations that embrace others show unselfishness, respect and genuine care. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register.