Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 10/22/18

From my balcony at The Breakers in West Palm Beach, Florida, I was watching the sun rise at about 7:40 when I noticed, far below, a worker drive a tractor onto the beach to begin clearing it of the prior night’s wave deposits. He didn’t get more than 20 yards before he stopped.

He jumped out of the cab and walked several feet to a piece of litter which his machinery couldn’t have reached. He picked it up, walked back and deposited it in the litter collector, and drove on.

It’s not what people do when they’re being watched that’s important, it’s what they do when they’re not being watched. In an age of ferocious customer interaction, cameras everywhere, and far too many supervisors, there is nothing so powerful for high performance as people simply doing what’s expected of them in terms of results. This guy’s job was not to drive a tractor, it was to clear the beach, and that’s how he acted.

Most flight attendants are terrific, but some aren’t. We’re told they are “primarily here for your safety” but, in fact, 99% of their job is service. While I’m happy that they could theoretically quickly evacuate a plane, that doesn’t excuse them from failing to serve drinks, being polite to passengers, and assisting in finding luggage space.

We’ve all heard the stereotypical, motivational-speech story of one person laying bricks and the other building a cathedral. It’s a pleasant story (the first time you hear it). But here’s the reality: We went to a restaurant last night we infrequently visit, and when I asked the hostess if there were seats at the bar—which was right behind her—she said she didn’t know. She never bothered to turn around. Yet at a restaurant down the block where we go weekly for the seafood, the bartender has my martini on the bar waiting for me when he sees me parking outside.



One person’s embarrassment is another person’s accountability.

—Tom Price

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