The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Sunday, March 15, 2015
Volume 20 | # 476
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Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. » Jack Welch

A Giant Impact

I’m as big a fan of technology speeding things up as the next guy.

And I’ve been particularly fond of how some Hyatt Hotels allow you to check in prior to arrival. They send you an email that allows you verify a few things and then simply walk to a kiosk upon arrival to pick up room keys.

I was able to bring my family along on a recent trip, but I forgot to check in prior to arrival. When I gave the young man at the desk my name, he smiled and said, “Good name.”

I was confused until I looked at his name badge. It read, “Martin.”

As we made small talk, he looked over my shoulder and asked, “Is that your son?” I was afraid to turn around and see what he was doing. Martin then leaned over the counter with his hand up and told my son, “High five, dude!”

I had no idea what was going on until I realized my son was wearing a San Francisco Giants cap. Martin had lived in Texas for a decade, but was from the SF area and a big Giants fan.

My son and Martin began talking about the ballpark, how cold it is in August, Tim Lincecum’s pitching, etc. I stood there smiling and letting them go on… while his mom and brother wondered what was taking so long.

Before we walked away, Martin said, “Mr. Martin… I think your family might need a little more space than our standard room.” He pecked around for about 30 seconds while continuing to make small talk.

He then said, “I’ve got a suite on the 15th floor that’s not being used. I’m going to put y’all in it.” I told him, “You, sir, are my new favorite Martin.”

He then reached into a drawer and gave my son a coupon for a free in-room movie, as well as two for chips and salsa in their restaurant. My son told him, “Dude, that’s awesome. I love this place!”

Our stay was great, and we even found Martin in the lobby as we checked out a couple of days later. Both sons walked over and thanked him.

From a dollars and cents standpoint, his actions really didn’t cost the hotel very much at all. (And I know he was empowered to do what he had done.)

But it was his gestures and personal touches that turned a normally routine interaction into a customer-preference and loyalty-increasing one. My wife and kids are now big fans of Hyatt.

Yes, the kiosk would have been quicker. But a great employee made our customer experience truly memorable.

How memorable will you be today?

A Critical Assessment

Over the years, I’ve developed the habit of jotting down notes on whatever paper I have available to me at the time. I end up with piles of scrap paper and napkins on my home office desk.

When cleaning things up a bit recently, I found one that I remember quickly scribbling after a conversation with a talented but seemingly flustered manager a few months ago. Someone from another department in her bank had made a negative comment about one of her branches.

It seemed trivial enough that I began forgetting the details as I was hearing them.

She, however, was pretty upset by them. Sensing that, I made a point to tell her about how impressive the teams she manages are, and that fact wasn’t accidental. She is good at her job.

The interesting (and common) thing I found about that conversation was how difficult it was to make this competent and committed person accept praise. She was stuck on the negative comment made by someone with no real clue about her job.

The note I scribbled afterward read, “We hear praise and don’t believe it because we don’t think we’re anything special. But we hear criticism and accept it like it’s the result of someone’s thorough, objective research. It’s not. Haters gonna hate.”

(The Taylor Swift song may have been in my head.)

The saying, “Don’t let praise go to your head,” is widely known and actually pretty sound advice. People who begin to think of their success as some God-given right can lose focus of the things that made them successful in the first place.

But we need to be aware not to let criticism go to our heads, as well. And, no, that doesn’t mean that we ignore negative feedback.

Nor does it mean we tune out all criticism (especially from our bosses.)

I’ve found that folks are just as likely to take their eyes off of important factors of their success to focus on some less-important issues they’ve been criticized for. And that criticism too often comes from folks who really don’t see the full picture.

You can treat everyone professionally and respectfully. But you usually can’t make everyone happy.

And you’ll often fail trying.

Remain focused on your customers, your team, and your partners.

Lots of people have opinions. But only one (you) has your job.

Strive to do it as best that you can each and every day.

You don't drown by falling in water; you drown by staying there. » Edwin Louis Cole

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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Dave Martin

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Dave Martin has become one of the most prolific writers in the banking industry. His columns and newsletters are read in thousands of financial institutions each month. His keynote presentations, seminars, and podcasts have an authenticity and humor that brings teams of all sizes and seniority levels together.

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