Alignment is a powerful thing. Most organizational ills, at least from my experience, stem from some sort of misalignment in the organization, much as misalignment occurs in our backs. “Aligned with what?”, you may ask. You can pick any number of things to align with, but abundant organizations align themselves with the most important things that pertain to the longevity of the organization. Strategy, goals, processes, etc. all are good alignment points; however, the most important alignment point begins with and is usually governed by the customer. Without customers, we’re all hosed.
A while ago I was staying at a Marriott property in St. Louis, and one morning I was waiting in the lobby for a colleague. As I sat there, I noticed that positioned in the middle of the entrance foyer, in-line with the front doors and the paths to the front desk, concierge and elevators (anywhere someone might go in the lobby) stood a man wearing the white uniform of a chef. He stood tall, with his hands behind his back, looked everyone in the eye and gave them a warm “good morning”, “How are you this morning?” etc. He had a Marriott-style name tag on and looked officious and authoritative, in a quiet way.
For somebody like me that is always looking at artifacts of alignment, he stood out like a sore thumb. I couldn’t just sit there, so I asked him, “Is this a corporate thing, or a local thing?” He smiled and stepped towards me, replying, “It is something we’ve chosen to do here. All the memebers of the management team take turns spending time here to greet and be with our guests.” (Yes, I added some emphasis there.)
I love that. No, its not rocket science or anything new, but he recognized that his leadership and the brand image of the hotel was not behind a desk or in the backroom, etc. – it was with the guests, the people who pay the money and chose to keep the hotel in business. The best part of the whole thing in my mind, is that this guy wasn’t necessarily a front-desk type, he is the EXECUTIVE CHEF!
I love it. Here is alignment, with the right things, in real practice. Nobody ever stopped him like I did, but he was there. He was making a purposeful attempt to engage guests in a warm, welcoming way, and in doing so, he, the executive chef, changed the whole atmosphere of the morning in that lobby.
To Tim Grandinetti, Executive Chef in the St. Louis Renaissance Hotel – keep taking it to the next level, and thanks for the great example to us all. (I’ll try the food next time).