It’s Quaint, but Golden Rule Works

For years, consultants have told casino managers that their employees are a valuable resource that must be respected and nurtured.  Now someone with considerable clout is saying the same thing.


Anyone who has stayed at a Four Seasons hotel knows what a great brand it is.  The hotel chain’s founder, Isadore Sharp, has published a book titled “Four Seasons:  The Story of A Business Philosophy.”  In a review of the book, the Wall Street Journal wrote:  “The core reason for the Four Season’s staying power, Mr. Sharp believes, is a credo that may sound almost quaint.  Follow the Golden Rule.  Workers, he says, are vital assets who should be treated accordingly.  At most hotel companies, he notes, housekeepers, cooks, bell staff, waiters and clerks … were the ones ‘who could make or break a five-star service reputation.’”


Sharp knows how to provide good customer service and all he has to do to prove it is open the doors of any Four Seasons hotel.  If he believes something as simple as treating employees with respect can lay the foundation for outstanding service, then let’s hear it for quaint and corny. 


All casino employees who have direct guest contact are on the front lines of making or breaking their property’s service reputation.  Indirectly, the same applies to employees who never rub elbows with guests.  For example, the chef who grills a guest’s steak to order also helps polish the casino’s reputation.


So here’s a challenge.  If your casino wants to offer five-star service, pay as much attention to your employees as you do to your guests.  Employees are the ones who actually deliver the service.  This is more important than ever today because of layoffs that have swept through the gaming industry.  Even after layoffs, there are still employees working the casino floor, the restaurant and the resort.  They need respect and support.


Here are three keys to following the Golden Rule with employees.


Key No. 1.  Show Your Respect With Training.  Yes, money is tight, but setting aside dollars for employee customer service training accomplishes two things.  First, it shows employees that the casino values them.  They will see that the casino made an investment in them and that will inspire them to generate a return on that investment by giving guests an outstanding experience at your property.  Second, training gives employees the skills they need to provide stellar service.  Few people are born with the service gene.  This is something that must be learned.  Give them the skill sets they need.


Key No. 2.  Empower Your Employees.  Once employees have the skills to provide great service, turn them loose and let them do their thing.  Again, Isadore Sharp shows the way.  The Wall Street Journal review went on to state:  “Turning the top-down management philosophy on its head, Mr. Sharp authorized every Four Seasons employee to solve service problems as they arose and to remedy failures on the spot.  Managers were told ‘Keep your egos in check and let the people who work for you shine.’”  What a concept – teach people how to do something and then let them show you they can actually do it!  That gives employees a sense of empowerment and empowerment is a potent motivator.  Motivation leads to success.


Key No. 3.  Reward Employees for A Job Well Done.  We all crave recognition and casino employees are no different.  When an employee is observed providing great service, let them know they got it right.  Simple praise is greatly appreciated.  A formal reward-and-recognition program is another option.  The critical thing here is to provide the reward as soon as possible after the appropriate service behavior occurs.  That helps the employee connect the two mentally.  A reward losses its punch if it comes a week later.


The founder of Four Seasons is right.  Employees are absolutely critical to maintaining any company’s reputation for service.  Therefore, treat them the way you want to be treated.  Follow the Golden Rule and your guest service will shine.


Martin R. Baird

Robinson & Associates, Inc.



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