the secret.

i recently read a blog from harvard business on the secret of excellent companies. the company in particular, four seasons, and one of their GMs, michael newcombe, in particular. i don’t know much about this hotel/resort chain, having never stayed there, but what i read intrigued me. it seems that newcombe carves out time monthly to meet with each sector of his employees…and not really a meeting with any laid out agenda, but just informally to chat. in these meetings voices are heard, concerns are raised, and problems are solved. there is no hierarchy through which things are mediated; issues are simply discussed. and it seems to work.

it seems to work because it is an environment where mutual trust is created. and this trust is implicit from the beginning. each potential employee has a series of 5 interviews…5. talk about time consuming, intense, and being hand-picked. each interview is led by a different department and looks for something specific.

The HR director assesses your ability to work. The division head assesses your skills. The Department head looks at cultural fit. The resort manager explores your potential to grow within the resort. And the GM (yes, Michael meets every new prospective employee) looks at your potential to move to another resort.

One in 20 new applicants gets through the process. A 5% admissions rate. That’s twice as competitive as Harvard.

Each interviewer is looking for one thing. Together they get a full picture of an applicant. Can he do the job? Will he fit in? Can he grow? Perhaps that’s the key to a turnover rate of 11% compared with the industry norm of 27%.

i would say that after going through such an extensive process, i–as a newly-hired employee–would feel valued and trusted…and would trust those 5 who had chosen me.

and it seems this blog focused on the trust that is implicit in what goes on behind-the-scenes at four seasons. and after having several conversations just in the past week with friends that inadvertently turned to the current status of their work environment, it seems that trust is lacking in many companies and the relationships therein. one friend in particular, who works for a church–which shouldn’t it exude an environment of trust (or maybe that’s a common misnomer all too many of us have…until we’ve actually worked at one)?–talked about the sheer lack of trust among the staff…trust that someone is watching their back, trust that their needs will be met, trust that they are a valuable part of the team. and i talked to another friend who feels similarly towards her direct supervisors…unsure that anyone would stand up for her if she’s called into question, unsure that someone would fight for her, unsure that she is valued, unsure that her voice is even heard.

Trust is as simple as following through on your commitments….That builds trust.

Great sales people create an opportunity to fulfill a commitment — even when one doesn’t naturally exist — and then fulfill it.

this type of trusting environment is one i seek to instill in my own work environment–with both my employees and with the customers i serve. it is one that takes care, concern, practice, valuing others and their needs, and forming genuine relationships. it is about creating a trusting environment…listening to others, trusting they have something valid to say, and the reciprocal action of them trusting me enough to speak their mind, to voice their concerns, to let me help them.

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