Routine, Routine, Routine...and do it again!

One thing that I have learned over the years as a leader is the value of routineRoutine can be good, and routine can be bad…..More at: www.LeeCockerell.com

This is what I call good routine.  So to explain what I mean, I will tell you a story.  When I ran a hotel, my routine went like this: 

  • I got to work at 6 a.m. (because you know what the early bird gets). 
  • I took the elevator to the 12th floor and walked the corridors to make sure the halls were clean with no room-service tables or trays in the hall with nasty-looking food on them.  I also made sure that all of the newspapers were in front of the Guests’ doors and that the express checkouts had been delivered.  I walked down the stairwells to make sure they were clean and free of debris, since these were fire exits as well.
  • When I got to the 6th floor, I walked the kitchens and the banquet public areas.  I saw the entire team every morning, and we knew one another well.  This walk showed me how the place was left the night before and if all assets were secured.  I walked in all of the walk-in refrigerators to make sure the food was dated properly.  I received feedback from my Front-Line associates on a range of issues; I stopped and talked with the Dishwashers; I saw the Third-Shift team before they went home; I talked with the Housemen and Cooks.  I saw the morning banquets being prepared and set up.  I talked with the Banquet staff.  I visited the breakrooms, cafeteria, and locker rooms to make sure they looked great and were as clean and maintained as the Guest areas.
  • Then I went to the restaurant areas and saw that we were staffed and ready for breakfast.
  • I checked the driveway of the hotel to make sure it looked great.  I even made sure the U.S. Post Office blue mailbox was cleaned by our staff because it was close to the hotel. 
  • I then waited in the Lobby for every elevator to open to make sure it was clean and no one had thrown up in there the night before. 
  • Then I checked in with the Front Office staff, Third-Shift, and First-Shift, since they were making the transition, to see if there were any Guest issues from the night before that I needed to deal with or to be proactive with.
  • After talking with some Guests who were checking out (I knew a lot of them because they came every week, and they saw me every week), learning how their stay was, and thanking them, I headed off to my office with my Daytimer® full of notes—some days it was filled with things to follow up on from my morning “Routine” walk of the hotel. 

This whole walk took about one hour, and it was an hour packed with value.  All of the team knew they would see me again in 24 hours (at a minimum).  From 11 a.m. to 12 noon, I took the same walk again and learned new things from the Housekeepers, who were now half finished with their rooms.  I inspected 30 rooms every day (60-second inspections because I wanted to know how the room feels to the Guests when they walk in).  The detailed inspections were done by Housekeeping management.  I had lots of things to give my Executive Committee to work on after these walks.

From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., I did the same walk again and visited with the p.m. team in all of the areas to make sure that everything was going well for dinnertime and for Guests arriving for check-in.  I checked the driveway and mailbox again.  I picked up lots of cigarette butts until I could train my team to get out there more often.  Cigarettes are a real problem—I hate those things.  Priscilla would tell me to wash my hands when I got home before touching anything.  That was routine, too.

Around 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., I left work to go work out and then went home to spend the evening with Priscilla.  And at 6 a.m. the next morning, I started all over again.  With this routine, I could see every 24 hours what improvements and follow-up had occurred from the direction I gave to my Executive Committee.

People say, “I don’t have time to do this”; and I say that this routine saved me tons of time because I learned firsthand how things were going with the place and the people—before it got out of hand and became a crisis.  And the main thing I accomplished was that I established trust with the whole team, which is a huge timesaver.

Crisis takes a lot of time to handle.  It’s amazing how over time I found less and less wrong with the operation.  Great Leaders walk their areas of responsibility coaching, counseling, listening, and teaching.  The new General Manager at the Sheraton across the street from my hotel told me years later that she knew she was in trouble when she looked out of her office window and saw me picking up cigarette butts.  I later hired her!

Have a good week, and enjoy your good routine

  • Ask to see those checklists as you walk your areas
  • Enforce the smoking policy as you walk your areas
  • Ask your Cast Members about their costume issues 

Soon you won’t find much wrong in your operation.  This is Performance Excellence!    . . . Lee

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