Have Your Executives Revisit Their Roots – Immerse Them! – By John Hendrie

The view of Corporate as seen from the field is not very pleasant – another missive, initiative, policy from the folks who are too removed, out of touch, wasting my time and efforts here on the property.

The view of Corporate as seen from the field is not very pleasant – another missive, initiative, policy from the folks who are too removed, out of touch, wasting my time and efforts here on the property.  Those clucks need a reality check, need to become sensitive to my every day rigors, better understand my Customers and Guests, rather than sit there in the ivory tower, plan in a vacuum and make my life miserable.  There exists a great divide, the “us versus them” – a historical chasm to bridge.
 
Many of us who have climbed the ladder to Corporate positions have held many seats in many locations along the way.  We have paid those career progression dues and are now considered top professionals in our chosen disciplines. We have the broad background and perspective to chart Corporate strategy.   Be it ever so humble!
 
Jason Q. Freed, an editor at Hotel News Now, wrote an interesting piece on a new program that CEO, Chris Nassetta of Hilton, has created to focus on a more unified and consistent culture across the Hilton portfolio – the “Immersion Program”, where senior executives return to the roots of the Brands– the local property – for a few days assignment. As one participant noted, Matt Schuyler of Corporate Hilton Human Resources, “Chris’ thoughts were that the stuff we’re working on at the corporate level doesn’t make sense if it doesn’t affect the customer.  On the big picture level, it allows us to go back to thinking about the property-level staff and the customers as we design certain brand elements. That’s been invaluable.”
 
Another more public forum has been the successful Television reality show, “Undercover Boss” where we have seen Steve Joyce of Choice Hotels, as well the CEO of 7-11, Joe DePinto, try their hand with the local property and populace.  The show has also featured NASCAR, Frontier Airlines and Great Wolf Resorts.  Did each of the participants learn something about their Brand, their people and their Customers?  A resounding YES.
 
As Hilton’s Schuyler summarized, “The most important takeaway is that we as executives ought to think about the work we do corporately and tweak those processes and reengineer them based on the impact on our team members. That literally is top of mind for me now. I’m constantly reminding our team to figure out what our team members need first and foremost. We have to ask, ‘How does this help them?”
 
There is a very valuable lesson here in terms of participation at every level of the organization and across all aspects of the business; the benefits of new (or renewed) perspectives and considerations are invaluable.  You cannot design and deliver on the Customer Experience if you do not have all parties aligned.  Immersion implies a rebirth, but perhaps just a get your hands dirty reminder is sufficient, lest we forget our “roots”.