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We Do Not Teach Values

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I frequently stay in hotels for business as part of my job and I have recently stayed in Dubai for a week. The hotel clearly stood out and that is very hard in Dubai where everything is shiny and glamorous. I was simply impressed by the shared and consistent attitude of the staff from the general manager to the valet parking.

My experience made me grew curious about my own understanding of corporate core values. How do leaders thoughtfully ensure the right service is delivered with the right attitude? Do core values of an organization play a role in establishing the desired atmosphere – or organizational culture? Do organizations really believe that they can teach experienced adult staff on values like integrity, accountability or care? What is the impact of leadership style on the commitment of the average employee to serve and deliver? All these questions left me observing the small details contributing to my exceptional hotel experience.

In my hotel, every staff member acted warmly and eagerly as if the hotel was a small B&B owned and run by their own family. I saw a senior manager picking up a tissue from one of the hallways without noticing that anyone was watching. The staff went above and beyond like when I mentioned that I enjoyed the fruits on the buffet, to find out that that they left a nice selection of fresh fruits in my room. The employees demonstrated true teamwork and helped one another like when their housekeeping manager recommended specific items from Thai street food delicacies. They simply seemed like a family with a shared set of values.

I was lucky that the general manager sat on my table during lunch one day. So I leveraged the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity and listen to his views on my reflections. I asked, and he answered. I disagreed, and he clarified. I shared and he welcomed. This insightful conversation came down to the essence of his philosophy when it comes to core values:

1- We hire our staff based on specific core values. Then we train them on clearly defined competencies. This is always followed by close observation and coaching by line managers.
2- We empower the staff to demonstrate our values by removing the obstacles from the system to enable them to innovate solutions to unexpected issues.
3- We continuously seek feedback from staff and guests. This goes beyond forms and formalities to thoughtful questions asked by our leadership team in every interaction we have.

I am not an expert on hospitality nor on corporate values, but neither are most of your customers. What matters is that living the core values of “my hotel” ensured I already booked my next stay with them for December.

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