I pulled up to one of our Hawai‘i Island resort hotels the other day, to valet park my car.
The parking valets were out parking the cars of those who had arrived before me, leaving only the doorman to welcome me.
That ‘welcome’ however, never happened.
Oh, he did approach my car. He opened the passenger door first, not noticing there wasn’t anyone sitting there, and without any acknowledgment or other sign he’d even noticed I was driving, he shut the door again with a look that easily betrayed his disappointment and resignation —no valets returned within that time he could lazily hug the curb closest to his Post of A Doorman’s Uppityness, and delay his need to walk around the front of my car to open my door for me. So looking around first, to make doubly sure his valets weren’t rushing back, he slowly came around to my side of the car to do so.
His greeting to me, pen poised above his stack of parking tickets, and looking down at them ready to write, was, “What are you here for please?”
Being me, I could not resist a little white lie to test if I could break through to him, and through these perfunctory mechanics of his job, and so I replied, “I’m here for an appointment with your General Manager.”
It didn’t work. Completely unfazed, he handed me my half of the parking ticket, left my car running, and walked back to his post without another word or look at me. He wasn’t going to bother with impressing me or his boss.
Normally, I enter my destination without another look at my car, fully trusting the system works. I knew it did, and that it would there, having been there before, however I couldn’t help myself this time; I stood at the front entrance waiting for a valet to return as well, just because I wondered how long my car would just sit there, door open and engine idling.
It wasn’t busy. The doorman hadn’t done ‘just enough’ with me because he was pressured, or otherwise rushing. He did notice that I hung back, however he didn’t question why, or wonder if I still needed to be served. He just ignored me.
I took the five-dollar bill I’d been holding in my hand to tip my greeter, and tucked it back into my pocket.
This entire scenario took less than 3 minutes, yet it has stayed with me up to writing this to share it with you. You might think the doorman picked the wrong person to leave an un-impression with, especially given that Ho‘okipa hospitality is the value immersion we are currently working on, but I’d beg to differ. I think any other guest would’ve shared in my reaction, thinking to themselves, “Well that was a letdown… guess we’ll keep looking for that Aloha Spirit thing people talk about.” or “Jeez, what a grouch. He must be having a bad day.”
The manager in me came to a short and certain conclusion —that guy is in the wrong job. He is not Mea Ho‘okipa, and he certainly should not be handling a guest’s first impression at this resort. It’s a job where having a bad day just doesn’t cut it. Furthermore, I doubt mine was an isolated incident—this is probably this doorman’s m.o. each time he’s on shift.
More broadly, the incident brought back a memory to me of another Ho‘okipa value immersion we’d done years back, about Ho‘okipa, Time, and Attention, and about the ‘Rule of 3’ they create:
Time is required to deliver true Ho‘okipa service. Not a lot of time, but well-managed, un-pressured, fully caring, ‘all in’ attentive time.
Relevant to our current focus, business-modeling Ho‘okipa, is making sure there is time for the little things —those little things guests and customers relate to as attentiveness, as being interested in them, and as caring about the quality of service they do, or do not receive.
The doorman I encountered had ample time, and he was not pressured. He simply wasn’t ‘into it’ and the attention part was completely missing —his Ho‘ohana job intention wasn’t connected to Ho‘okipa at all.
Business-modeling Ho‘okipa for managers, may mean working on MWA Key 4: The Role of the Manager Reconstructed, for it is making sure managers have the time to address each and every breakdown in service which happens:
- Beauty in the Work: “Things Occur to You.” —Learn about Mr. BIV: Mistakes, Rework, Breakdowns, Inefficiencies, and Variation.
- Managing Basics: Study Their Work —We do certain tasks every single day, and repeat our actions instinctively, but chances are we could, and should, newly study those tasks and actions so we can improve upon them.
- Hana ‘eleau: Working in the Dark —Work is our enabler, and it delivers our livelihood as we earn our keep. However… work can have its’ dark sides to overcome.
Managers need time to catch people doing right, AND catch people doing wrong, handling both outcomes in different ways with their Ho‘okipa, Time, and Attention. “Management By Walking Around” is not cutesy theory — it is vitally necessary.
I wonder how long that doorman has worked there, in that position, doing his job as he sees fit to do it, and completely devoid of Ho‘okipa and his true Ho‘ohana passions, whatever they may be. What a pity. It’s a pity for him, for that business, and for their guests.
Image Credit: Thomas Hawk on Flickr.
Subscribe for our weekly newsletter:
Talking Story with the Ho‘ohana Community.
Preview the updates in Managing with Aloha, Second Edition, released July, 2016
Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawai‘i’s Universal Values to the Art of Business
Our value immersion study for the months of May and June 2017:
Ho‘okipa is a Game Changer in Service.