Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Like a 5-Star Hotel

Anyone who's stayed at Four Seasons knows the incomparable experience of being cared for by service personnel who are fresh, attentively focused, and ready to serve. Their secret? Well hold on to your seats, domestic staff citizens, because I'm now going to break ranks and scandalously disclose their proprietary industry secret:

It's because their staff are fresh, attentively focused, and ready to serve.

It's such a deceptively simple concept that it's completely lost on most other hotel establishments (and many residential estates)... and is the reason why Four Seasons is able to maintain its worldwide reputation for unmatched and consistent service delivery. Instead of directing their general managers to focus on providing more quantity with less quality, the company culture has been to keep focusing on providing more quality - with more quality and to keep their staff fresh, attentively focused, and ready to serve.

Employers who've directed their referral agents to find staff to run their homes "like a 5-star hotel" are sometimes confused why stepping through their front door still seems to remind them of their college summer adventures in hostels, instead of their more recent and memorable experiences at 5-star resorts. As it turns out, the deceptively simply notions above can once again be referenced:

It's because their staff are not fresh, not focused, and not ready to serve.

The oddly romanticized notion of the domestic worker who never thinks of self, yet instead, reserving all energies and focus of attention for others 24/7 in the name of service... did it ever work?

Perhaps he needs a little rest.
Yes, it certainly did... in the movies!... where retake after retake allowed for plenty of rest and refocus on the business at hand, which was that of creating a movie, not an actual 5-star service experience. But the difference is understood at Four Seasons - and understood at those privately staffed estates who know to differentiate between a quantity and a quality staffing plan - the latter requiring staff to maintain sufficient attention to self.

As it turns out, the concept of selfishness is the very first step in truly dedicating oneself to a life of providing 5-star service. 

As Harvard Business Review recently noted, selfishness is the absolute required beginning, and investment, of what each worker - truly dedicated to the service of his or her employer - must learn to master. Beginning with the understanding of how emotional mismanagement can completely wreck a work environment, selfishly tending to one's needs to ensure their behavior on the job is always top flight is not only good for oneself, yet - ultimately and even more so - for the employers themselves. The authors make a credible case for this singular aspect of emotional selfish needs, yet the list has just begun.  

Could it be that great service to others in a home environment, then, is not attained by simply discarding one's own personal care needs, to quantitatively make room for more service tasks, yet turns out to be quite the reverse... by tending to those needs as distinctly, and carefully, as one would for anyone else?

What's on your own list of selfish activity today and - in the process of being so - creating a genuine high-performing level of service to both your team and your employer?