Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Learning Happens

Despite the best domestic staff training, experience, and intentions, accidents happen. Yet, could the pattern of events immediately afterwards determine whether simply more accidents, or the learning required to prevent them, takes hold and becomes part of a household team culture?

As Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University, highlights in his post, accidents are typically associated with a strong propensity for pointing blame and delivering swift punishment immediately following the event.  However, what becomes lost is how an accident could have turned into a learning opportunity to examine the process itself - not simply an individual staff member - which may have failed.

Addressing  system failures always allow for a longer-term solutions, for any events in which an accident was simply the symptom. Tragically, however, people without this learning environment will retreat into safe (and perhaps, familiar), defensive posturing, ensuring root causes never see the light of day.  Not surprisingly, the same accidents are repeated by staff over and over again.  Turning this around requires relinquishing an innate and common satisfaction with lashing out, in exchange for a more thoughtful, and much greater, payout for all concerned.

What's really important...  is what happens next.
On domestic estates, there's no shortage of valuable items and the ways in which to cause damage, by either a misguided handling procedure, ill-informed product knowledge, or simple inattention to detail.

The same situation equally applies to special events, our everyday service presentation, and ultimately, our employers' overall service experience.  When an accident does occur, whether manifesting as a broken glass or broken dinner for twelve, what provides the estate's ultimate success has less to do with assigning blame than with the creation of a safe environment to examine and recount details - learning together, as a team - how to create a process that actually works.

Imagine an accident which could occur on your estate.  Which action would serve in the estate's best long-term interests for creating a successful service delivery... engaging in the short-term satisfaction of blame and punishment  -  or the long-term benefits of building functional whole systems?

As the old saying goes, accidents happen.  Yet, with a dedication to creating a successful service environment, they can always be replaced with learning.