Archive for May, 2011

Mental Infection: Keeping Toxic Attitudes from Influencing New Staff Members

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Chase LeBlanc

I have a long-time staff member who tends to cast a negative vibe. When I made a recent hire, he glommed onto the new guy and fed him his “perspective” on everything involved in his new job, and I believe it gave the new person a bad start that has been difficult to shake. Going forward, how can I keep entrenched, toxic employees from infecting new hires with a bad attitude and habits, short of firing the former?

Ah, yes, the ever-familiar “staff infection.” If someone is “entrenched,” they have been ceded some type of staying power, and their negatives presumably are—or once were—outweighed by their positives. Bad people get hired, good people turn bad, nobody is perfect, and the proof is in the pudding.

You must start with the heartbeat of the organization. Any corporate culture can be accurately defined as “how we do things around here,” and a strong, positive culture makes it difficult for negativity to survive. Poisonous attitudes cannot grow roots where no power is granted.

Most organizations have developed a mission or vision statement that governs its directions and actions. This is usually a great starting point for a culture when the words are translated into actions that can be witnessed on a day-to-day basis.

I favor a statement of shared values. It is important to recognize that people come from all walks and beginnings. Shared values established in a shared workplace during shared time can bridge many languages and difficulties:“We all clean as we go.” “Nobody steals anything from anybody.” “Everybody works smart and hard.” “We are hand-washing fiends.”

Sure, you can wait for somebody else to fix the problem. You can wait for the leadership of your hotel to draft a super mission statement and then hang in there until it takes effect. You can wait until the manager in question addresses the problem. Or you can gather your closest tribe/team members, collectively decide on the best way to go for your part of the show, and then DO IT.

You do not have to be at the top of an organization to be considered a valuable leader. Strong, informal leaders actually are the secret weapon of many high-flying companies. What it takes, day in and day out, is to know, show, and go the right way.

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance coach. He is also the author of High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!

If You Can’t Stand Friction – Get Outta’ the Kitchen

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

In any workplace change is inevitable, constantly evolving business conditions are dim or bright realities for everyone in business. And some form of “friction” can usually be found riding shotgun whenever there are changes. Rarely are new locations, uniforms, menus, policies, standards, or designs met with little or no friction.

Frankly, no company has the resources to fix every crack, leverage all opportunities, fully satisfy all complaints and overflow everyone’s happiness cup. In business it has been, and will always be about making choices — some from experience or market pressure and some best guesses. Hopefully, all choices are made with the intent to improve upon results, but still, few without friction.

In order for a system to evolve and become stronger, periodic shake-ups are nature’s way of doing business. Floods, forest fires, tornados… well, you get the idea. Not that we would ever wish the ensuing aftermath of damages, loss and sadness on anybody, but is pretty tough to talk nature out of its determined course of action.

Ilya Prigogine, a Russian born, Belgian naturalized Physicist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his theory called “dissipate structures.” As it was explained to me, part of his theory contends that friction is a fundamental property of nature and NOTHING grows without it, not mountains, pearls, or people. If my limited understanding is correct, Prigogine suggested that it is the quality of fragility, with the capacity to withstand being shaken — that is the key to growth. Any structure, whether at the molecular, chemical, physical, organizational, social and even psychological level that is isolated from disturbance is also protected from friction and thus from growth.

This missive serves merely as a reminder. Change, while often viewed as the enemy, is not the enemy – inactivity, incapability, and inflexibility are. Any workplace has the potential to generate frequent friction. Friction will serve you best if you use the stimulation to grow wiser and better, more competent and responsible. Despite the above headline, if you can’t stand friction, but need a job, I honestly don’t know where to tell you to go. Friction… and then growth, it’s the natural order of things.