Hey, Hotel Leader…Want to Increase Your Engagement Scores?
Your hotel has just completed an Engagement Survey, and now you can log in and see the results. The typical process is:
- Take Survey
- Review Results
- Create Action Plans
Then what? You have a couple of areas that look like you could increase and make things better…so you write an action plan or have the HR Director write an action plan. All done! That fixed everything last year, didn’t it? Oh, your scores didn’t change…or they went down?
I suggest doing something different, or you will realize the same result again this year, so let’s not waste any time. Depending on the size of your property you will either hold an all employee meeting (small property) or you will hold department meetings (large property) …I like to call these meeting Discovery Meetings. Discovery Meetings are not easy to conduct, they are very difficult and take preparation and planning. You are going to be dealing with sensitive material…you are going to be dealing with anonymous responses to an engagement survey…so make sure you are ready.
The following is how I conduct successful Discovery Meetings. I will use the example of a smaller property, so if you are in a larger full service, instead of the entire population, you will be dealing with departments.
First, I review the results of the survey. I don’t just look at them, I study them. I look at all the reports, I dissect the reports by viewing and understanding all the demographic reports. I read all the comments in the comment report. During my due diligence of the survey results I am NEVER wondering or asking myself, “I wonder who said that” or “That is not right, we are good in that area”. This would be what psychologists call denial. We are all too busy, so I don’t become what we call a Detective Manager. What I am thinking while I digest the results is … What can we/me do differently to make an impact/change? Although some associates can get very personal in their comments, don’t take it personally…that would hinder your ability to become better. You should prepare for this meeting with the same attention and detail as you would prepare for a visit from your new boss. Meaning you don’t want to be asked a question in the meeting that you have no idea what they are talking about.
Once you are confident in the scores for your hotel, once you have read and reread all the comments…you should be ready. The tone or the atmosphere of the meeting is vital to your success. Some of the obvious things that you will NOT do in this meeting: Blame associates, point fingers, make excuses or avoid questions. Some of the things you WILL do in this meeting is: Ask for help, listen with both ears, ask for more help and give thanks. If you fail to set the correct tone in this meeting you will not get the results you need to move forward and increase your scores.
I have been asked by many clients if it is acceptable to conduct this meeting at lunch. It is a great idea to eat with your associates, not just during this meeting, but I would recommend you do it frequently. When you eat with someone you are showing respect and recognition.
You should start the meeting by setting the stage, letting everyone know exactly what you would like to accomplish in this meeting. You want to accomplish:
- Communicating the scores of the recent Engagement Survey
- Celebrating the areas that came back good
- Discuss the areas that came back less than desirable
- Try and come up with some ideas to make those areas better
That’s it…that is all you are going to do in this meeting. I would create a flip chart or PowerPoint so you are in control of the information that is released. I am all about transparency, but you may have comments that are on your report that should not be made public…enough said.
In most cases, it is not important to go from Q1 to the last question and give all the data that is available for each question. In some instances where you may have a very hostile environment, you may end up doing that to keep the peace…otherwise, I would talk about the top 5 or 6 questions that are positive and an equal number of questions that need attention.
During your discussion and celebration of the top 5 or 6, you will have multiple opportunities to recognize individuals, take that advantage and turn the celebration into a win – win.
While you discuss the questions that need some attention, DO NOT point fingers at anyone…that would be counterproductive. This is going to be the “meat” of your meeting, so all your presentation skills are required, your body language is important, your tone and inflection are important…everything you do while discussing this portion of the meeting is being watched, very closely. In a small group, I like to sit down, not at the front of the room, but with the associates, this makes the meeting more intimate and lets them know you want help…you’re not “front of the room” lecturing. During this phase of the meeting, you need to get your team talking, giving input. Ask questions. This should be part of your preparation, write down questions…so you don’t have to remember them. Make your questions easy to understand and direct. When you get answers, don’t just accept that answer, ask the person answering, “Can you tell me more about that?” Make sure you are getting EVERY associate involved, don’t just let the “talkers” talk. Make it a point to get all answering your questions…and while they are answering you need to be LISTENING and taking notes. You are going to need those notes, so make them repeat things if you don’t get them all written down.
If you have set the stage properly and the associates feel that you are doing this to help them out…they will speak up and answer the questions. While they are answering, keep the momentum going…dig deep, get all the information you can, every bit will help you create an engaged team.
Now it is time to “Make it Better”! You have all the notes and you have all the associates sitting there in a mode of answering questions, to help you help them…so let’s write some Action Plans! Or better yet, let’s get the associates to write them for you. When they create the action plans, they take ownership, when they take ownership the implementation is a given…the follow up is a given, reporting back is a given…all the things that just seemed to slip through the cracks last year are now going to be handled. I like to not only get the buy in from the entire team, I like to let them elect someone to be the person in charge of the Action Plans! They are the person that the associates can go to and they are the person that comes to you…built in communication.
Don’t stop there, you should include follow up on your Action Plans in all your meetings. They should be discussed with all associates on a regular and frequent basis. The feedback you get, from these discussions, will be just as valuable as the original feedback you got in the Discovery Meeting, and assist in your quest to create the environment you are after.
You see the conventional process works fine, but unfortunately, most organizations fail to continue after the Action Plans are created. In many instances, the Action Plans are never even implemented. Thus, creating a cycle of surveying and creating Action Plans…this cycle of no implementation or follow up can create more harm than one would expect. If you read comments in your survey like, “I don’t know why we do this every year, nothing ever changes” or “This is pointless, nothing ever happens” then you may be guilty.
One survey a year is not enough if your engagement levels are not where you want them, you need to find out if the Action Plans that were created are moving the engagement levels in the right direction. You also need to know if the focus on the Action Plans has decreased your focus in other areas. So, a minimum of two surveys in a calendar month is the suggestion.
It all may sound a bit overwhelming or a lot of extra work…because to an extent it is; you don’t run a wildly successful hotel by sitting in your office. Just like any other process or system, it takes persistent effort, although this persistent effort will reward you beyond your expectations. Make a commitment to move your scores in the right direction…get involved in the engagement process!
If you would like to discuss in more detail what to do after the survey, contact us.