A story from Simon Sinek.
A few months ago, I stayed at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas. It is a wonderful hotel and the reason is not because of the fancy bed. Any hotel can go and buy a fancy bed. The reason it is a wonderful hotel because of the people who work there.
If you walk past somebody at the four season and they will say hello to you, and you will get the feeling that they actually wanted to say hello to you. It’s not that somebody told them that you have to say hello to all the guests. You actually feel that they actually care.
In their lobby, they have a coffee stand. One afternoon, I went to buy a cup of coffee and there was a barista by the name of Noah, who was serving me. Noah was fantastic, friendly and fun. He was engaging with me and I had so much fun buying a cup of coffee. I actually gave 100% tips. He was wonderful.
So as it’s my nature, I asked Noah “Do you like your job?”. Without skipping a beat, Noah says “I love my job.” and so I followed up. I said, “What is it that the Four Seasons is doing that would make you say to me “I love my job?” and without skipping a beat, Noah said, “Throughout the day, managers will walk past me and ask me how I’m doing. If there’s anything that I need to do my job better.” He said “not just my manager, any manager”. Then he said something magical. He says, “I also work at Caesars Palace. At Caesar’s Palace, the managers are trying to make sure we are doing everything right. They catch us when we do things wrong.” He says, “When i go to work there, I like to keep my head under the radar, and just get through the day, so I can get my paycheck.” He says, “Here at the Four Seasons, I feel I can be myself.” Same person, entirely different experience, from the customer who’ll engage with Noah.
If we create the right environment, we will get people like Noah at the Four Seasons. If we create the wrong environment, we will get people like Noah at Caesar’s Palace.
Do you know the quickest way to destroy trust and destroy cooperation in a business literally in one day? Lay people off and everyone gets scared. Forget about the people who lost their job. Think about the people who kept their jobs. Because every single decision a company makes is a piece of communication and the company has just communicated to everybody else. This is not a meritocracy. We don’t care how hard you work, or how long you’ve worked here. If we missed our numbers, and you happen to fail on the wrong side of the spreadsheet. I’m sorry we cannot guarantee your employment. In other words, we come to work every day afraid.
We are asking our youngest generation to work in environment where how would any of us ever stand up and admit i made a mistake? We’re constantly being told, you have to be vulnerable. Leaders are vulnerable. What does it means? It doesn’t mean you walk around crying “I’m vulnerable”? No. What vulnerable means is, you create an environment in which someone feels safe enough to raise their hand and said, “I don’t know what I’m doing”, “You’ve given me a job and I haven’t been trained to do it”, “I need help”, “I made a mistake”, “I screwed something up”, “I’m scared”, and “I’m worried”. All of these things, no one would ever admit inside a company because it puts a target on your head in case there’s another round and so we keep it to ourselves. and how can a Company ever do well if nobody’s ever willing to admit they made a mistake, they are scared, and they don’t know what they are doing. and so we’ve literally created cultures in which every single day everybody comes to work and lies, hides, and fakes.
We are asking our youngest generation to work and succeed, find themselves, build their confidence, overcome their addiction to technology and build strong relationship at work. We are asking to do this in these lies environment we’ve created. We keep saying to them, “You are the future leaders”. We are the leaders now! We are in control. What are we doing? This is what empathy mean. It means if there is an entire generation struggling, maybe it’s not them. It’s like you know, the only thing that the common factor in all my failed relationships, is “Me”. Same thing.
Well, we just can’t get the right performance out of our people. May be it is you? It’s not a generation, it’s not them. They are not difficult or hard to understand. They are human being, like the rest of us. Trying to find their way, trying to work in a place where they feel that someone cares about them as a human being. By the way, that’s what we all want.
I’m tired of people saying to me,”how do i get the best out of my people”. They’re like a towel, you just wring them. How can I get the most out of them? No. It is about how do we help our people be at their natural best. Here’s the lack of empathy, this is normal in our business world.
In other words, it is not even generational. it’s all of us. This is the practice of empathy that if we’re struggling to communicate to someone, if it was struggling to help someone be at their natural best.
You walk into someone office, someone walks into our office and says “Your numbers have been down for the third quarter in a row, you have to pick up your number otherwise i can’t guarantee what the future will look like” How inspired do you think that person is to come to work the next day. Here is what empathy looks like, you walk into someone’s office, someone walks into your office and says “your number are down for the third quarter in a row, are you okay? I am worried about you. what’s going on?
We all have performance issues. may be someone’s kid is sick, may be they are having problems in their marriage, may be one their parents is dying, we don’t know what is going on in their life, and of course it will affect performance at work.
Empathy is being concerned about the human being, not just their output. we have to start by practicing empathy, and relate to what they may be going through and it will profoundly change the decisions we make. It will profoundly change the way we see the world.