Tips for Effectively Communicating in an Attention-Deficit World

By Mary Gendron Senior Vice President / Managing Director, Eric Mower & Associates | March 15, 2010

The self-deprecating comment "I think I have adult ADD" has become as pervasive as the ubiquitous "senior moment" quip within the office environment in recent years. But is it really just a joke? Based on conversations with clients and peers inside of the hotel industry and out, I think not.

As technology has prompted the workplace to move on an ever faster track, human beings have been adapting -- on the surface, surprisingly well -- by operating at increasingly faster speeds.

The need for speed seems to align with our competitive nature. If we can go faster, then we must, especially if it means staying ahead of the competition. Has speed enhanced overall productivity? No doubt it has. For those of us whose careers depend upon use of a PC, email and the Internet, we can work with efficiency that was unimagined even 10 years ago.

Communication, on the surface, is easier and quicker than ever. We have a wealth of information at our fingertips, allowing us to be better informed in our communication with others. We can communicate in real time, cutting across georgraphic, time zone and even cultural boundaries. We can easily inform ourselves of basic cultural idioms as we craft communication directed to people in other regions of the country or far flung areas of the world. When the situation calls for it, we can access translation services at the touch of a button.

And yet it seems that true communication is more elusive than ever. If you accept that communication creates understanding between the giver and the receiver, then we seem to have quite a way to go before we can call ourselves consistently effective. It may be, as someone said to me years ago, that communication is the last great frontier.

Over the course of a typical work day, it is not unusual to experience frustration as a giver and as a receiver of communication. Due to workplace pressures, it is easy to be plagued by distraction and lack of focus and by the challenge of retaining the information that comes our way every day. We become forgetful. In some cases, we even claim not to have received an email that we later track and realize we have open and read.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.