The stuff I describe below got me into a lot of trouble.
It even got my boss into trouble. His boss’s boss phoned me to stop what I was doing from spreading to other area properties under their management. It worked – I only lasted 4 months with this company. 😉
I wrote these words in 2006 about my discovery of STP and the initial application of its powerful ability to alter reality. I realize now that the story is a bit windy but like wisdom, brevity for me is coming with age.
Thank you to Cornell University School of Hotel Administration for originally publishing this work for me.
Good Day Good People of Hotel Land!
Yahoo! I’m back in the saddle again!
I’ve scored a job managing a group of cleaners for our local airport and am practicing some hospitality voodoo science on them that I want to share with you. I’m going way out on a limb here and will tell you all about my nefarious contrivances and whether or not I get fired for attempting this…
First – the set up.
The previous cleaning contractor for our fine airport was of your typical flavor; ride the employees hard, pay them nuttin’ and treat them regularly to a dirt sandwich. You know – kinda like the way they’re considered in most places…with indifference.
So, when my new body lords unwittingly hired me, I thought I’d try to mix things up a little bit and use some wacky management principles on my unsuspecting flock of soil organizers. Please understand, this here’s an ongoing interpersonal study and my missive today is just an initial report to you, my esteemed colleagues.
Knowing everything there is to know about double blind experiments (I’ve been married twice), I chose to keep any of the old staff that would be brave enough to cross over to the unstable side of the road and join my band of merry char persons. I then took the 50 applications that had been sent in for this mundane charade and set up appointments for interviews. (And phoned the people whom I didn’t hire or interview…;-)
Employing all the human resources tricks I learned in my own recent adventure of applying for jobs, I interviewed 15 applicants in 4 hours. I avoided using the standard opaque screen which real HR people use to hide interviewee’s physical traits so’s they don’t accidentally discriminate against folks who apply for their plumbest of positions.
I wound up with 20 trusting humans, all looking to me like I give a squat about their well being. (Fortunately for them, I really do care.)
I adorned them with uniforms that make them look and feel like professionals. I sponsored an orientation about customer service and told them that each person was hired because of who they are – not what they’ve done in the past. (I’m doing something really “way out” here – employing people based on their desired futures.)
I promised that they would be treated with dignity and respect and asked each of them to treat our customers the same way. I also told everyone that if I did my job right, they would become better people AND outstanding cleaners. They listened in muted silence.
The first day of work (I’m into day 4 now) I told these trusting people the story of Management By Numbers. You know how this works. Some manager thinks he’s the wisest keener on the planet and judges himself to be an eight (bordering on nine) on the one to ten scale. He purposely hires workers who rate a tad bit less than himself (which is nearly everybody) on the old scale-aroosky. Maybe 7’s or 6’s.
Some of those loyal employees stay on with the corp. and following their hero’s lead, they hire 6’s and 5’s. Pretty soon the company is being run by 3’s and everybody wonders why the goods and services are so lousy. And the three’s don’t give a dang.
I told my people that they’re better than me – and they are. (Or soon will be) I confessed that there’s plenty I don’t know and said that they should learn everything they can about their jobs and then tell me all about it. I admitted that I’m likely to make some mistakes and that it’s OK if they do, too. We’ll learn together – they’re the leaders now.
Yeah, they were a bit bewildered, but they got over it in one day.
Day 2 I told them who was managing them – themselves. I explained to each person that they had to exercise self discipline and that my job was to set the parameters for our tasks. I’ll keep them out of the ditches and congratulate them for staying on the road. Again, some confusion and deer in the headlights looks with some smirks from the “old” company people.
Day 3 I described Kaizen – continuous improvement and what it looked like in this job. I also had to verbally warn a “previous” supervisor for coming in late.
Day 4 (today) I had to warn another “cross over” person about being late for their shift.
I also implemented a contest – STP (you know airports, they LOVE acronyms…) which stands for “Smile Transfer Protocol”. One lucky cleaner will win a dinner for two next Sunday (Feb 12) for creating the most smiles from our customers – the people who use the airport. All my people have to do is smile and say hello while counting the number of people that smile back. The person generating the most smiles in one week wins.
Today was a practice day for the contest and I personally caused eleven people to smile on one round trip from my office to the restaurant. I felt pretty dang proud because I’m the only person who will be posting my smile count; everyone else must keep theirs secret until next Sunday. It’s the honor system.
I was blown away by what I saw as I made my way back to my office. One of the “cleaners” was encouraging a group of approximately 100 Japanese tourists to “SMILE” as she mischievously took the group photo she had offered to snap for them. She had them laughing and smiling all over the place! I wondered if that was cheating…
You should have heard her bragging about her “smile tally” at break time… incredible!
More than 900,000 people a year use this airport and the way my people have cleaned it up over the past 4 days is nothing short of amazing. I can see that they’re taking ownership of their responsibilities and winning complements from everyone who works in the place. And now they’re actively seeking ways to create happiness. I am truly humbled.
Smile Transfer Protocol – it’s a science you can use.
I think it’s gonna be a fun week.
Stay tuned, my friends.
Walmart once thought smiley face was the cat’s meow. Then they tried to copyright it…