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News Excerpt ISBN 1499-8076 Vol.1, No.21
in the Workplace
July 7th, 2003 - ©
Hospitality Consulting Services
Excerpt from Easytraining
I started editing and re-writing all previous issues, which I plan
to compile in book form. I saw that when you re-read after
a certain time, you find you have to add some more to what you had
written, or maybe change entire paragraphs to communicate a message.
When we write, it is not only information, ideas or instructions
that we put into words but we create different worlds, e.g. beauty,
entertainment, education, rapport (speaking heart-to-heart and mind-to-mind),
affecting souls and the entire being of the reader. This
also goes for corporate and organizational communications. People
who publish (articles, books, plays) re-read their work a few times,
edit, change or refine ideas. Usually they hire an outside
party (editor) to brush it up professionally.
us pause for a moment and wonder about our communications in the
workplace. Are they clear? Maybe too harsh? Too
dry? How are they perceived? Are they accepted or rejected?
Do people give a hoot about what we say? Do we accomplish
I know, from experience, that we do not
examine our communications in the workplace with the same critical
eye with which we examine other types of written messages, such
as published articles, books, government communications and rulings.
What should we do when we want to issue new instructions? Should
we invite people representing mixed organizational ranks for a “relaxed”
meeting and read to them what we wrote so they could critique or
to enable us to test the ground?
My very first boss
in Tel Aviv Hilton, Mr. Moshe Barnea, used to invite me to his office
and read out to me some draft he had written. I used
to comment, excusing myself for commenting. Sometimes I said
it was not clear, or that I couldn't understand the message and
purpose of the communication, or that I thought it may lead others
to take it amiss, and so forth.
who knew Mr. Barnea, who unfortunately died in a car crash a few
years ago while on travel, wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he
was delighted at having my feedback, urging me not to “hold back”
and especially not to excuse myself. He said “I need
this. You are my testing ground. If it is not clear
to you then it won’t be clear to others”. But Mr. Barnea was a very
unique person. So unique, in fact, that the Hotel Managers
Association of Israel created the Moshe Barnea Award of Excellence
in his memory. I get goose-pimples just writing this - it
is hard for me to speak of him in the past and realize again that
he is gone.
Because his primary consideration was
for “others” and he cared how they felt, everything he said or did
expressed his outlook. He saw no clash between humanity and
being decisive. If an occasion called for dismissal, he took
this step but not before fact-finding and soul-searching. He
examined all facets, all the pros and cons.
heads and employees loved him. They did not just “like him”,
but really loved him and held him in the highest regard.
When there was something of importance to communicate, he took
the time to meet with department heads to explain the matter and
convert them to this cause. Then it was their turn to carry
on the communication to employees. He often attended such
departmental meetings, inviting questions and comments. Because
of his style, department heads behaved likewise. I suppose
that this is what we call the democratic process. He
took comments into consideration but, because he was so thorough,
there was usually nothing that he had not already covered or considered.
He always smiled and thanked people. Even
now, so many years after his death, as I now write about him, his
face bears a broad smile right in front of me. No-one who
knew him ever thought of him as cross or scolding (though there
were a few such rare occasions). What did really upset him
was dishonesty, which was a thing he could never accept. Everyone
learned, soon enough, how high his standards were.
I do not know how he managed to remember the names of all employees
and become acquainted with their marital status, names of children,
aspirations, financial condition, personal problems, and all what
goes with establishing first-hand rapport with people. He
had an open door policy but people used this only for important
organizational matters. However, if someone's work took him
(or her) near his office, that person always popped in a smiling
head saying "Shalom, Mr. Barnea" and he would invariably
smile back with a "Shalom, how are you?" and each would
continue with his work. Maybe it was his friendly attitude,
the feeling of trust and respect people had for him and the fact
that he was always circulating (“walk-around manager”) that enabled
him to establish this rapport with everyone.
written directives only when a new policy or operational procedure
was needed (we had a policy manual and a standard operating procedure
manual per department). He believed more in face-to-face communications.
Policies and procedures (or their revisions) were distributed and
posted where needed. He never issued memos or instructions
with regard to tardiness, performance shortcomings or any of the
other woes we see in organizations. He had the human resources
department call the person in question to discuss the matter. If
the problem disappeared this was not even recorded formally.
He sometimes asked, with a smile, the person involved, “What’s
happening? Do you have problems? Why have you been coming
late?" or "Why are you so distracted at work recently?”
People would just feel ashamed and promise that
this would never happen again. If they said they had a serious
problem at home or with finances he would invite them to his office,
shut the door, and listen. Then he tried to give them some
helpful advice and tips.
People did not abuse his
kindness. He was hardly ever disturbed by others. They told
each other what he had recommended or given as direction and learned
from each other.
Executives may say: Who has time
for all this? Well, Mr. Barnea, because of his high
human values, did find time. Actually, his attitude caused
him to have much more time than some executives who are hardly aware
of their people and who frequently find themselves with serious
performance and labor problems.
When Mr. Barnea took time
to listen to one employee, ALL employees knew that they were important
to him as “persons”, people in their own right, and that he did
not view them only as a means to achieve sales and accomplish pure
business objectives. He saw us all as part of a big family
and that we all had a share in the hotel’s success, and we all converted
to his view.
His legacy and guidance has been and is being
carried over by the many who were lucky to work with him and for
him. The circle widens. I really do not know how
my approach and view of management, operations and employees would
have been had I not worked so closely with Mr. Barnea.
Although young, he was recognized as a giant in the field of tourism
in Israel. He was sought after by all and sundry in the outside
world, including the press and government officials.
also taught us problem-solving. When there were issues to
deal with, he taught us how to use our minds, consider all
perspectives, and find the best solution. If a solution was
presented by someone else, he enthusiastically adopted it, applauding
the person who suggested it. He just had no ego. He
focused on what had to be done and the people who were entrusted
with doing it.
Union leaders considered it an honor to
meet with him and they were “high up in heaven” (a modern Hebrew
expression) when he invited them for lunch where they could have
a leisurely talk about matters other than the organization and its
workers. Everyone enjoyed his personal self. He
found something humorous in any situation. (I must remind
myself of this when feeling overwhelmed!)
He gave us all
our due. I regret most bitterly that, back then, when I was
so young, I did not ask him for a letter of reference before leaving
for the opening of the Brussels Hilton. I wonder what he would
have written and how he would have said it. Now that he is
gone I would have cherished it above all others. Not only because
of the high esteem in which I hold him, but also because he was
so truthful. He would never “embellish” for the sake of others
or because it was the accepted thing to do.
How many of
us can claim to be so well-thought of by everyone who touched our
Reverting to communications
Do you find yourselves issuing many memos, directives, warnings,
rulings? Are they all necessary? Even if they are, do
you have at least one other person read them and comment on them
before distribution? Do you yourselves ever re-read
them after a lapse of time to see if they were really necessary
or if the matter could have been handled differently? Do
you find yourselves re-writing the same instructions again and again?
Is it not proof something is amiss in the mode of communication?
Please write back your feedback on this subject, even giving
some examples at http://www.easytraining.com/contact.htm (we stopped carrying our email
on this site because of spam. We do not share or sell addresses
or details of our contacts. Please indicate which article
or service you are writing about. Thank you. It is the
“sharing of experiences and thoughts” which we all enjoy.
I hope that this short newsletter issue touched some important
point and that you continue to like the free-style, free-thought
nature of this means of communication.
So many write to
me asking for games and tips for employee motivation. The above
is a pure example on how to motivate an entire organization!
July 7th, 2003
- © Copyright 2003 Claire Belilos
ISSN 1499-8076 - This publication is registered with the National
Library of Canada and is published by
CHIC Hospitality Consulting Company
Practical Solutions, Training
and Human Resources Strategies
#2007-1011 Beach Ave., Vancouver,
For reprint permissions, contact the author
through our contact form at http://www.easytraining.com/contact.htm Thank you and thank you
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