By Leigh Ann Hubbard
Hey, hospitality professionals in Nashville: Y’all rock! (Or y’all country?)
During the 2022 AHCA/NCAL Conference and Expo, Foresight founder Steve Moran and I visited at least half-a-dozen places, and your positivity, warmth, and helpfulness showed out strong for your city.
… For the most part.
At a couple of places, the teams’ unhappiness spilled into their customer service. They treated customers as annoyances — as bumps along their mission to get to quitting time.
It left me curious: What made the difference?
Pay? Maybe. Position? No. Leadership and culture? Had to be.
Now, I don’t know what leadership is like at all these places — how they empower or disempower. But one thing was clear: At places where people truly cared, those teams “understood the assignment,” as the meme goes. More accurately: They understood the mission.
Culture = Mission = Culture
At Foresight, Steve talks a lot about making sure team members take your mission to heart — making sure they understand, deep down, that they’re doing more than completing tasks; they’re changing lives.
That’s what it felt like most of the hospitality workers in Nashville embraced. They knew they weren’t simply working a gig; they were:
- Influencing how people saw their town
- Affecting what people thought of their company
- Helping people have a good day and a good stay
And if places that deal with tourists can accomplish this kind of empowering, inspiring culture, surely places that care for older people can too, amiright?
Here are a few examples.
Nashville Music City Center
Hour after hour, a man stood at the large expo doors, greeting the nonstop flow of attendees.
He could have daydreamed and twiddled his proverbial thumbs, waiting for questions. He could have shown fatigue and faked a smile. But nope, this man grinned, interacted, and made people feel welcome.
By the end of the conference, I felt like we were practically friends. And I was just one person among 3,000 or more.
(Alas, I didn’t get him on camera, but here’s a peek inside the expo, following Steve around.)
Nissan Stadium Party Crew (Tennessee Titans)
When it came time to shut down the party, the Titans folks could have abruptly ushered us off the field en masse. Instead, they split up, individually approached groups, and said with a smile, “I hope you had a wonderful time tonight. Unfortunately, it’s time to —.”
I didn’t even notice the rest. The kind send-off had us headed for the stands laughing and still having a good time.
I don’t watch football, but because of their hard-working team, I’m now a Titans fan. Go, sports!
L27 Rooftop Lounge, The Westin Nashville
At a party overlooking the Nashville skyline, a man in a chef’s uniform stood by the hors d’oeuvres. He encouraged me to add a sandwich to my small plate. “I can’t eat gluten,” I said, “But thank you!”
Instead of letting me move on, he furrowed his brow and went searching through one tray. Underneath a sandwich, he found one last gluten-free potato ball and gave it to me, smiling.
These small things added up to help me enjoy my stay. But also, perhaps more important to the mission, they influenced me to have a positive opinion of Nashville! #SouthernHospitality
Do your team members understand the impact their jobs have? Like the chef at the hors d’oeuvres table, do they take pride in what they do, even when nobody’s watching?
If not, I wonder why not … because somehow, Nashville tourism has got it goin’ on.
If you’d like some inspiration to lead your teams to heights like this, here are some recent articles and videos to get you started.
- “Be Wildly Successful by Doing This”
- “Transparent Leadership ??”
- “The Scariest Part of Leadership — a Lesson From Starbucks”
- “Do You Know What It Takes to Have Low Turnover?”