Get Rid Of The Flies

You can get rid of the flies in your life

Around 1975, Bill Marriott walked my operation with me at the Philadelphia Marriott.  I was the Director of Food and Beverage.  As we walked, Bill gave me constant feedback from his perspective on my operation.  He checked for cleanliness everywhere we went in the hotel.  He checked the inventory records; and for all of you old timers at Marriott, he checked the breading charts very carefully.  We eventually ended up at the back loading and receiving dock where the trash compactor was located.  It was summer and there were a lot of flies around the dumpster.  Some of those flies were making their way into the back corridors of the hotel, and of course, eventually finding their way to the restaurants upstairs.

Mr. Marriott turned to me and said, “Lee, if you have flies in your operation, it is because you like flies.  I will never forget that moment and that lesson.  What he meant, of course, is that you can get rid of those flies if you want to.  You can order an enclosed dumpster.  You can wash down the dumpster as many times a day as it takes so no flies will be there.  You can install different insect control devices in that area.  You can put fly fans on the loading dock doors, and on and on.  Even if you have to buy 100 fly swatters and issue them to the employees with a quota each day, you can have an operation without flies.

So if you have rude employees, you must like that.  If you have poorly trained employees, you must like that. If you have poorly groomed employees, you must like that.  If you have children with bad manners, you must like that. If you are not saving for your retirement, you must like that. If you don’t exercise, you must like the way you feel and look.  If you have underperforming managers in your business, then you are an underperforming leader.

From this one lesson given so long ago by a leader who cared and was able to communicate in a common sense way, I have always made sure that I did not have flies in my operation.  It was a lesson about personal responsibility and attention to detail. It was about not underestimating what you as an individual can accomplish.

Make a list of the fly problems in your life that you are not dealing with.  The problem with flies and other things we don’t deal with is that they multiply.  One fly today, ten flies tomorrow.  One poorly groomed employee today, ten tomorrow.  One poor habit today, ten more next week.

You get rid of flies that same way you got them in the first place–one at a time….Lee

4 Comments
  1. Lee, I completely agree. Personal accountability is an aspect that all great leaders share. The ability to set & hold to standards is not something everyone understands, but without that sense of personal accountability one can not become a great leader. The question I like to ask, “How many people will walk by a piece of trash, not pick it up, and complain about how dirty the place is and how it has gone down hill, and how someone else wasn’t doing their job.” *next post*

  2. What if everyone picked up just one piece of trash when they pass by…how much cleaner would our planet be? If people hold themselves accountable to the standards, and hold others accountable to the standards how much better would the world be…?

    I like the fly analogy. Thanks.

  3. Lee, The fly analogy is on target. Old timers used to tell me that if you clean the corners the center will take care of itself. When I started out at the Hotel Vancouver my office was at the loading dock … I was impressed by the GM whose regular back of the house tour included inspection of the garbage refrigerator for cleanliness 7 to see what was being thrown out. Old time managers were hands on.
    Jim McGonigle

  4. I feel like Gilda Radner; I thought the blog was about FILES!! I was happy to learn about getting rid of files, but getting rid of FLIES (figuratively speaking) was even better! Obviously, I am not applying for the Proofreader Position.

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