Monday, March 21, 2011


Aretha Franklin knew what she was talking about, (or, to be more accurate, singing about), when she first belted out the lyrics to her now infamous song; Respect.

I’ll go you one further and suggest that it’s really the issue of mutual respect that makes a difference with the people that we work with, and for that matter, everyone in our lives.

It is somewhat ironic to me that many people walk around perplexed about why they have the challenging relationships that they do with some of the people in their lives, and, instead of looking inward and asking themselves who they are being in that relationship, they look outward, only, at what they perceive is “wrong” with the other person.

I’ve said it repeatedly and I have no doubt that I will continue to reference that I believe, particularly as it relates to the hospitality business, that it’s all about relationships, and if that’s the case, then how can you expect to have a solid relationship with your co-workers, the people who report to you, whomever, if you do not first start with a solid foundation of mutual respect.

It reminds me of a great quote that I came across recently, which said; “putting icing on mud does not make it a cake, it’s still just icing on top of mud,” and that’s like a lot of the relationships that we have with the people in our lives, especially the people that we work with.  We don’t get to the real source of knowing, understanding and respecting people, but instead we try to cover it up by pretending or being nice – icing on top of mud. 

And don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re fooling anyone – you’re not.  Your staff know when you are not being genuine with them, they know when you do not respect them, respect their contribution, and in an ironic twist of fate, as a result, they lose respect for you as a leader.

It’s not unlike the classic golden rule; do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or in other words, treat others as you would want to be treated.  It’s a simple and straight forward concept, and yet many people cannot see it.

I was in what would best be described as a coaching conversation the other day with a person in a significant leadership role within a hotel, and he was expressing his frustration to me that, in his opinion, his employees did not respect him, to which I asked him the question; “do you respect them?”

In the conversation that ensued I discovered that his version of respect was based on hierarchy.  He was running around with the misguided belief that his employees should respect him because of his position in the company, regardless of his actions and who he was being, and whether or not he respected his employees had no bearing on the situation as far as he was concerned.  It served to remind me of how far we have come in the hospitality business, (well, most of us), from the era of; “if I want your opinion I’ll tell you what it is,” to the world that we operate in now, that is respectful of the individual contribution that each and every one of our employees makes when we enable and empower them to be all that they can be.

As I said when I posted my article; Labour Relations – Out With the Old, In With the New, managers, all managers, need to take a new look at the relationships that they have with their employees and remember a few simple facts along the way:

Manage your relationships, all the time, not just when you need them, and,

“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  

Want to take your relationships to an all new level, make sure that they are built on a foundation of mutual respect, and not icing on top of mud.

Need an experienced hospitality professional to help your property reach its full potential?  Contact me.

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