How to listen for results
My brother, Eric Orkin, created Delphi Management Systems and founded OPUS 2 Revenue Technologies, which developed the first yield management program for hotels. (I guess he fits into the extraordinary category.) Prior to that, while a professor at the University of New Hampshire, he conducted a simulation-based workshop called HOTMAMA (stood for Hotel Marketing and Management ? we did get a lot of laughs around that). Within three days, a year of hotel decision-making was simulated, enabling participants to see the revenue impact of their decisions. Participants were divided into four competing hotels, each with its own set of attributes, including some serious problems. One was a “plain vanilla box,” another had union issues, the third had the best location but was somewhat run down, et cetera.
The point of all this is that your physical asset is only one aspect of your ability to make the sale. Every hotel has “issues.” The thinking your team brings to the table is the difference between, good, great and extraordinary, and their thinking begins with how they listen ? to you and, more importantly, to their own inner voice and “critic.”
Shifting viewpoints on attaining great profitability and repositioning assets are two of the main focuses of my company, and I want to share a little bit about the power of “listening” and why how your team “listens” determines your results.
Have you ever sat in a meeting and you or someone else is speaking, but everyone walks away having heard something different? It happens more often than you think. Even though we speak the same language, we all have a filter through which we perceive the world. As a leader, once you understand the filters your team members are listening through, you can be strategic about how to get the messages across and get everyone into action and accountability that much faster.
As an example, I once had a boss that was a great troubleshooter, but with that business perspective ? good as it may be ? comes great fear with what can go wrong. He listened to everything in life through a filter of “What can go wrong?” I once had an idea for our company to create a concierge bus in the city to represent our 15 hotels and pick up guests from all hotels in the area. He almost fell down the stairs. Once I learned the filter he listened through, I learned to allay his fears first so he was open to new ideas. We then moved quickly into new territory.
Another time, I had issues with an associate who couldn’t get work to me on time. Once I learned that he was afraid to submit it unless it was “perfect,” I was able to speak differently to him.
What I am suggesting is you cannot get to extraordinary without understanding how others listen. Most people listen from a survival instinct and what’s important to them, not to you ? they just don’t know that. When you explore this as a team, you break out of “the box,” and new possibilities for your organization exist. People’s “listening” creates obstacles until they become aware of how they listen.
I was repositioning a hotel in the Rocky Mountains. It was a branded “vanilla box.” After we created a new identity for the hotel around fun and exploration (based on its locale), the general manager took the title of camp commander. After working with the team, the entire culture shifted its listening from ordinary business as usual to “What’s fun? What can we explore with our guests? How can we add more room nights to extend business traveler visits to explore the area?” People were listening through clarity of purpose.
To excel and move ahead in leaps and bounds, small changes can lead to huge results, but they occur under the very rocks we don’t look under. Understanding how people listen is a key business strategy.