Now Hear This Casino Employees! Do Your Job and Do It Right!

Gaming is becoming more competitive by the second.  States that said they would never have gaming are now thinking about it.  States that vowed to never let gaming expand are wondering if it could be a great way to make up for tax shortfalls.  Other states are allowing additional forms of gaming that they didn’t a few months ago.

So what does this mean to the average casino general manger or human resources executive?  The answer is simple.  It means that the people they hire will need to do more with fewer skills.  The days of rising through the ranks at casinos is long gone.  Fierce competition doesn’t allow the luxury of taking one’s time.  If you know how to do a job and show up for work most days, some other casino opening across town or across the country needs you.

People are being tapped for promotions with limited skills.  This scares me.  Casinos are asking people to do things that they may not be trained to do.

(To read more about the importance of creating a consistently exceptional gaming experience click here and here.)

Let’s say you’re a good table games dealer at casino A.  Casino B comes to town and they need people, so they may ask if you want a promotion with higher pay.  I don’t know too many people who will turn down a promotion and even fewer who will say no thanks to a pay raise.

But an increase in responsibilities always comes with the promotion.  These new duties may require skills that a person is not born with.

One area where casinos increasingly need help is Presentation Skills 101.  The newly promoted employee who was great on the front line has no idea how to share information, ideas and concepts with the people who report to him or her.  As a matter of fact, some would rather not share the information at all and avoid the fear of making a presentation to their peers.

If people don’t know how to communicate and are not comfortable with sharing ideas with their direct reports and peers, they will find themselves in a no-win situation.  That can’t be good for them or the casino.  There’s an old saying that goes something like this:  “When you squeeze a lemon, what comes out?  Whatever is inside.”  The same is true with people doing presentations.  They will often see it as extreme pressure and what ends up coming out is often not what they or management wants.

So why do we expect a person who is great at dealing cards to be equally skilled at clearly and comfortably sharing ideas with people?  That doesn’t sound reasonable to me.

How do you know when a person needs these skills?  After you identify the need, how do you help them improve and learn?  Identifying is the easier of the two questions.

One clue is what a supervisor’s employees do or don’t know.  For example, if one department or one shift of a particular department is always out of the loop, that could be a sign that someone is not sharing or not communicating information clearly.

Observation is another good technique.  Ask some of your managers if you can attend their team meetings.  If the response is that they don’t have team meetings or that they are very infrequent, that could be a red flag that they are not comfortable sharing ideas and concepts.  If they do have them, simply watch and listen.  You will be amazed at what people say in team meetings if you just quietly sit in the back of the room.  Some people will impress you and you will be shocked at how poorly others communicate to a group.  It’s important to note that just because a person is wonderful one on one doesn’t mean they do well with a crowd.

Please don’t be disappointed or frustrated at how poorly some people present.  They just don’t know how to do it.  We have had people who really struggled on day one of presentation training, but they had great improvement as soon as they learned some of the tricks and techniques.

When it comes to helping your employees acquire the presentation skills they need, the first point to remember is that they must feel comfortable and safe during the training.  This can be a very emotional process because people often have some deep seated fears about speaking to groups.  Also, you will need to overcome the problem that there may be different rankings of people in the room.  We stress leaving your titles at the door because in our presentation skills sessions, it’s all about improving and learning, not who is who.

A couple of final thoughts on presentation skills.  Numerous studies show that people are rewarded with promotions and higher pay if they are able to clearly communicate ideas and concepts to groups.  Supervisors who can present to their people will be on the fast track to success.

Finally, if you want people to succeed in your business, they must have the necessary skills.  Presenting to a group is a skill that very few of us are born with.  If you want them to succeed, you need to help them and make it easy to succeed.

The headline for this article says, “Now Hear This!”  That’s a common saying in the military.  They tell people to listen and do as they’re told.  The challenge in today’s gaming industry is that you can’t just tell people what to do and expect miracles.  You need to work as a team and the way information is presented can have a huge impact on the overall success of a program or idea.

The days of barking out orders are over.  Presenting information in a palatable and perhaps even fun way will get far better results.

So please hear this.  With the increase in competition, presentation skills are not an option.  They are a necessity for the success of the casino and all its employees.

To read other articles by Martin Baird, go to

Martin R. Baird
Robinson & Associates, Inc.

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