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There’s More To Work Than Making Money

December 9, 2009

By Laurie Clarke, COO, The Tatham Group

“Tell me how a person is measured and I’ll tell you how they behave.”

Every leader knows the truth of this statement.  It used to be that higher pay, more vacation time and great benefits were enough to elicit loyalty and dedication from employees.  However, do people still care about these same measures?

I was in South East Asia on a business trip this past summer.  As a long weekend was approaching I decided to explore some more of the beautiful Philippine islands instead of staying in my hotel room in Makati.  I booked a flight to Cebu and stayed at the fabulous Shangri-La Mactan.  Might as well use those million points I’ve accumulated from endless business travel.

For a Torontonian, it is a treat to spend a weekend at a beautiful beach, calm sea, relaxing spa, with warm weather.  But what have stayed more prevalent in my mind are the many lessons that the people of Cebu taught me.

The first lesson: money is not always the strongest motivator.

I was vacationing by myself, and as anyone who has met me can attest, I am not a shy person.  I love meeting new people, listening to their stories and engaging in conversation.  The best life advice I’ve received to date was from my airport cab driver in Philadelphia.  You never know where valuable lessons will come from!  The following lesson came from a member of the housekeeping staff at the Shangri-La.

Five to ten minutes a day, for the three short days I was a guest, I would greet the housekeeping staff as I passed them in the hall, ask about their day and answer any questions they had for me about where I was from, why I was in Cebu, etc. Getting to know them and more about their lives enriched my stay – it did not impede upon my relaxation.  So it surprised me that most guests don’t take the time to find out more about the people who are making their stay easy, fun and enjoyable.

As they learned more about me, they were able to better customize the service for my room – like the extra Cebu mangoes I love so much.  They listened to me and applied what they heard to make my vacation better.  To show my appreciation, I left a nice tip with a thank you note.

Upon returning to my room, I saw that the money was still on the desk.  As the room was clean, I wondered if they had missed seeing my note.   As I picked it up to deliver it to them directly, I noticed that my note was missing and in its place was a new one.  It was from the housekeeping staff thanking me for being such a good guest at the hotel and expressing that it was a pleasure to make my stay as memorable as possible.

Wow!  The time I spent talking to them and the appreciation I showed meant more than the monetary measure I was giving them.  And no, there aren’t any restrictions preventing staff from accepting gratuities.  Everyone can use extra cash so the fact that they left the money was a big eye-opener.

Money is not always the best measure.  Sometimes appreciation, showing you care and the recognition for a job well done are more important.  Are leaders taking these measures into account when trying to motivate their employees today? Let us know what you think.