Empowerment of staff

I recently went to Malacca, Malaysia to conduct a recce on a particular hotel for a huge convention slated in end 2009. The experience of being able to visit all the suites and rooms was rather pleasant and it gave me a good impression of the quality and services offered by the hotel.

At the end of the recce, I sat down with my companions to discuss our observations. Just before we left the hotel, I realised that my parking coupon was not validated yet. I approached the front desk staff and asked them to help me with it and this is how the conversation went:

“Excuse me, I was with your Sales Manager Azizah, just now (pointing to the front lobby) and after such a wonderful conversation, I forgot to ask her to validate my parking coupon. Is there any way you could do that for me?” I asked politely.

“I’m sorry Sir, but this is only for our hotel guests only.” The frontdesk lady replied… surprised by my request.

“I understand, but its only a small ticket and I’m sure that Azizah will it be able to handle it.” I retorted.

“I see, but still….. it is strictly reserved for our hotel guests.” The frontdesk lady stood unwavering.

“Ok, then can you please call Azizah and tell her its me. I request for her to do this… “. I was feeling a little frustrated because it was going no where and we just discussed a deal that is worth over hundreds of thousands of ringgit (Malayisan Dollars). A parking coupon was not a big deal at all, compared to what the negotiations we discussed earlier.

While I stood there waiting for Azizah to respond, I was wondering why the frontdesk personnel were so rigid in their policies. Imagine how things will be if they were just empowered to make decisions that will make their guests (or potential clients like me) happy? What if their managers told them that they could do anything to please a guest as long as it does not cost more than $50? I am very sure that decision making will be really quick and people like me will be impressed by how their management trust them to do things.

Isn’t great if staff are empowered to make decisions? Wouldn’t a lot of unneccessary distractions be reduced for their managers? However, when I look some managers or employers , particularly entrepreneurs, this is still not the case. There is still a lot micro-managing; which unfortunately demands time and attention.

The role of a good boss is to give their staff a good framework of the desired results, empower them to make decisions and tell them that he/she trusts them. Once this is achieved, people tend to take a more pro-active approach in their work because they now know that they are responsible for the decisions they make. They will also feel a sense of empowerment that their boss really trust them to do what it takes to make their clients happy.

Back to my situation, I finally got my ticket validated by Azizah… I smiled knowing that a small thing like this made a customer happy.

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