Mission: Possible

I recently wrote about the wonderful experience my husband and I shared on our honeymoon in Mexico.  We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, where gratuity was included with our fee, however we received such wonderful service that we felt compelled to tip anyway – especially because the service we received was not based on the tradition of receiving gratuity.  From what we could see this service stemmed from excellent training and a genuine love of the hospitality industry.  I wrote about our disappointment upon returning to the “real world,” where bored high-schoolers expect a 20% tip, no matter how much attention they give their tables or how friendly they are.  Four years later, we still reference our time in Mexico when we go out to eat.  We have had a handful of servers that we felt were “Mexico worthy,” and have made sure to tip extra to show our appreciation.  However, for the most part we have encountered service workers who are entitled and for lack of a better word, lazy.  Not necessarily because they are sitting down on the job, but because they are so very clearly not trying; not trying to give us a positive experience, not trying to be friendly, and not trying to make us want to come back.

Recently, we had one of the worst servers we have ever encountered.  We discussed her lack of enthusiasm and skill all the way home, and it led us to thinking about the key pillars that Royal Services has included in their mission statement.  The acronym OPTIC stands for Ownership, Professionalism, Tenacity, Innovation and Collaboration.  These pillars are perfect for the service that Royal provides to its partners, but they can also relate to a wide array of different companies and careers.  In the case of this server, we will call her Rhonda, we felt that she epitomized the exact opposite of each of these pillars.

Ownership: Assume accountability for completion of all steps in the customer engagement relationship. Ensure the best outcome for our clients through planning, execution, and sharing lessons learned.  The part that stands out to me in this step is ensuring the best outcome for clients.  In the sense of being a restaurant customer, we were, in effect, Rhonda’s clients.  She did not go out of her way to ensure a good outcome for us, as a good outcome would mean we would be counting down the minutes until we could return!  Rather, Rhonda actually did her best to ensure that we had a negative experience by acting irritated and grouchy with us through our entire meal.

Professionalism: Effectively communicate and educate our clients to achieve our common goals. To be viewed as knowledgeable within the many trades and customer specific tasks in which we manage through continuous programmatic learning.  Rhonda did not come across as knowledgeable about the menu, the restaurant or its guests.  We arrived at the restaurant at 1:30 and I ordered the very yummy bottomless mimosa special with my brunch.  Rhonda informed me in a very bored and annoyed voice that the deal ended at 2:30 so I probably shouldn’t get it.  I was so taken aback by someone in the service/sales industry turning down a sale that I agreed with her.  But then I thought, that’s a full hour!  That’s plenty of time!  When I found her and placed my order, she still acted as though I was making a mistake.  Surely her boss would not be happy to know that she was turning down business!  And if she was truly looking out for my best interests, she did not do a very good job of communicating that to me.

Tenacity: Develop a mindset and communications dynamic that strives for excellence that flows through to our customers, vendors, and the Royal team.  Again, the communication we received from Rhonda was unenthusiastic and certainly did not show us that she was striving for excellence.  In fact, we wondered a few times why she was in this business in the first place, as she certainly did not seem to enjoy it very much!

Innovation: Strive for creative, cost-effective solutions in a constantly changing world, emphasizing technological improvement and environmental awareness.  Now, I cannot 100% assert that Rhonda does not embrace this pillar at her place of work.  However, based on my experience with her, I think it’s safe to assume that she is not going out of her way to think of creative ways to save the restaurant money.  Unless of course she took one look at me and realized that if anyone could take full advantage of bottomless mimosas, it was me, and she knew that it would be more cost-effective if I did not in fact order it.

Collaboration: Maintain a free flow of knowledge and information through honest discourse and open dialog. Share and implement best practices for the betterment of the client and Royal team. This brunch was an opportunity for my family to get together with my elderly grandmother, and unfortunately while we waited for our food she began getting very lightheaded, probably due to hunger.  I was able to fish out a couple of packs of fruit snacks from the diaper bag to hold her over, but just before the food arrived my dad was getting ready to take her home.  Luckily Rhonda arrived and began placing our plates on the table (after complaining a few times about the fact that we had changed seats), and what do you know but my grandma’s food was not with the rest!  Of all people to have to wait even longer for her food, and to be served last!  We all started handing her food from our plates while Rhonda took her time going back to the kitchen for the last plate.  If Rhonda had made any effort to communicate and converse with our table, she could have had an opportunity to go above and beyond and order my grandmother’s food on the fly.  That would have been so impressive and thoughtful, exactly what you would like to see in a server.

Obviously, these pillars were not created for the restaurant industry.  However, you can see how they can be applied to a variety of vocations and are useful to keep in mind as you are working with customers, clients and partners.  There is a reason that Royal has clients who have stayed by their side for over 20 years, and their mission statement and their commitment to living up to that mission statement are a big part of that.  Have you worked for a company with an excellent mission statement?  How has that inspired you to go above and beyond at your job?  Leave us some comments below!

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Managing Time Wisely

It seems that life is extremely busy right now.  Whether you work full-time or stay home, have kids or not, it seems like it’s go, go, go, all the time.  Time management is more important than ever in order to stay sane and complete the tasks that are on your plate.  As a stay-at-home mom with two young boys, as well as a couple of part-time jobs, I know how difficult it can be to keep up.  On the occasional day that both boys nap at the same time, I work hard to accomplish as much as possible during that hour and a half.  But most days, they end up on opposite schedules and I am left either working during family time during the evening, or not paying enough attention to one of the boys during the day.  It is a lose-lose situation that I would love to remedy.  And did I mention that I need sleep?  And a lot of it?  So where do I fit it all in? There are so many different techniques for staying organized and managing your time, so which one is best?  I have compiled a list of different ideas from a number of websites, so I will let you take a look and be the judge!

  • Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day – I prefer to do this at the end of the day before bed, as this is when everything I need to do starts tumbling into my brain; not to mention the mornings are crazy around my house! But I can also see how making your list in the morning, when your brain is fresh, might be effective as well.  And be sure to label your list items; what is the most important?  What can wait?  What can be dropped?
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This is a great tool to use when making labels!
  • Block Facebook and other forms of social media, unless you use these to generate business – this is huge these days! I try to stay off of Facebook as much as possible, but even if I am just hopping on to send a message, I find myself getting sucked into my newsfeed, which leads to reading news articles, pointless anecdotes from my Facebook friends, and political rants that only stress me out.  This is a huge time-waster, and should be avoided if possible!
  • Learn to say no – if you are a yes man or woman, then chances are people will appreciate you but occasionally take advantage of your giving nature. Sometimes it’s easier to say yes because you know the job will get done, but occasionally it’s important to pass tasks along to others so your plate is clear to accomplish the most important items on your list.
  • Have one place where you record your lists and events – this is one that I learned from someone when I was complaining about being unable to focus. This person asked me if I was someone who had post-its and notebooks galore, all with different time managementto-do lists.  Of course the answer was yes, so they suggested having only one place where I record my thoughts, my lists, and my reminders.  I immediately went out and got a spiral notebook and kept it in my purse at all times.  There are also a ton of apps that will help with this if you prefer to have everything on your phone.
  • Create a time limit for your tasks – it is so easy to get stuck on one thing, trying to make it absolutely perfect, or even just because it’s a mind-numbing task and time just gets away. Set a limit, set a timer and stick to it.  Working against the clock can be a great motivator to finish your tasks in a timely manner.
  • Finish! – This is something else I learned from a random source that I have been trying to incorporate in my life. With two little boys who need almost constant attention, this is a little more difficult to accomplish, but it’s worth striving for!  Because I stay home, I will give an example from the household perspective.  Pretend you start to clean the kitchen, but get interrupted by a phone call.  While you’re on the phone, you realize that your carpet really needs to be vacuumed.  As you are vacuuming, you stop because there are too many toys in the way, so you proceed to pick them up.  In the middle of picking up toys, your 9-month old falls and hits his head.  I could go on and on, but you see where I’m going.  Now you have 3 unfinished tasks and if you’re like me, you may start to get overwhelmed and just give up on cleaning for the moment.  However, if after your phone call you made a point to finish the kitchen before moving on to the toys, you have at least finished one task which will most likely motivate you to move on to the next, and so on.
  • Prioritize and stop complaining about how busy you are! – This is a pet peeve of mine. Remember that everyone is busy.  You have the power to change your situation, so if you feel overwhelmed by everything on your plate, then figure out what can be cut out rather than wasting your time complaining about it.  I recently heard a mom (with a nanny, mind you) complaining about how she was so busy and had so many things to do!  Her children are involved in a ton of activities and sports and she is so stressed about getting them to where they need to go.  Well, my answer to that is PRIORITIZE.  Sit down with your family and figure out how you can all work together to calm your schedules down a bit.

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I hope these ideas have given you a great start on your time-management transformation!  What techniques do you use in your everyday life?  If you have an idea that could help others, please leave it in the comments below!

Tragedy in Dallas

My heart is breaking today after the events that have transpired in our country this week.  Our country, whose independence we celebrated only four days ago, prides itself on unity and equality; yet we have become so divided in the past two years that it feels like we are stepping back in time.  Race wars, and the violence that accompanies them, seemed to be something that we would only learn about in history books instead of experience in our everyday lives.  I am not naïve; in no way did I think that racism had been eradicated.  Racism is alive and rampant in this world, being highlighted in our current presidential election and one of the reasons that Britain just left the EU.  But the violence and killings is not something I thought I would witness.

I just watched an interview with a former marine who was at the Dallas rally with her children last night.  The rally was organized to protest police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana earlier this week.  People were saddened and angry by these events and needed an outlet for their grief. The marine described the event as peaceful, and based on love.  She said the police officers were taking pictures, giving hugs and high fives, and offering their support and protection.  For five of their lives to be taken in the city that they were serving and protecting is devastating.  There is so much anger in our country right now, and while the majority of people are expressing their sadness and anger in a peaceful manner, it is terrifying to think about the people among us who are willing to commit mass murder just to make a point.

There are obvious lessons that can be learned from this situation, and it is up to us as Americans to take heed.  Be kind.  Be understanding.  Be empathetic.  Try to rebuild relationships, rather than destroy them even more.  Even in your office, where you think you might not have an opportunity to make a difference, you can take the lead to promote love and compassion.  You go to work every day with the same people, but how well do you know them?  How well do you know what their daily lives outside of work are like?  You never know the kind of hatred your coworkers might experience on a daily basis just because their skin color is different.  Reach out.  Let the people in your office, regardless of race, know that you support them.  In this time of tragedy, stay positive.  Remember that most people will not resort to this kind of behavior; most people want a solution and are willing to find it in a peaceful way.  Do not lash out at someone just because they share a race with someone who did something terrible.  Remember that they are just as saddened by the situation as you are, and that you can work together to make your office and life a peaceful and safe place.

God bless all of the families and victims involved in the shootings that have taken place this week; you are in our prayers.