Teach Back

blogentry_paulAre you a young professional?  Have you spent significant time in your day questioning the status quo?

Sometimes it’s difficult to break barriers.  I know a lot of young professionals – heck even some not so young professionals – who don’t know what else they can do to make a difference. It’s very easy to just give up.

Leadership. That’s what makes the difference.  I think that is why I’ve had to fit into that role of being a leader. It’s not because of power.  It’s not because of pride.  It’s because sometimes stepping up is the right thing to do.

My style of leadership has always been leading by example.  You have to be able to teach back and show any team you are on that you mean what you say.  You do what you mean.  If I tell people that I am loyal to my company – I mean it and I do everything to uphold that belief.  If I tell people that I am a good person and overall practicing Catholic – I know I’m not doing anything in this world that would prove otherwise.  The right thing to do is not always the most popular.  It’s easier to stray.  Easier to give up.  Easier to lose faith.  In the past few weeks, I’ve had a tremendous leadership opportunity – guest service training of over a thousand employees.  Some of them have been working at our property for more than 10 years.  Some of them have old habits.  Some have seen signs of the times that many of us may never experience.  A time when Vegas was fat.  Spending was rampant.  Times were good.  How do you motivate your team to keep on fighting the good fight when there may not be a promise of anything on the other side?  You remind them that they are human.

Teaching is one of my favorite things to do.  Anytime there is a training assignment, I volunteer to lead it.  There’s an importance to messaging.  Sometimes I think I want to me a motivational speaker.  Not because I have anything particular to talk about at the moment – but mostly because I love to talk.  I love to talk because I love to listen.  Listening is more than just hearing people’s conversation.  Listening is being observant.  Hearing their tone of voice.  Reading their faces.  Reading their posture.  Getting them motivated to take on another day with a different breath of life.  How do you convince someone that everyday is a beautiful one?  How do you convince someone that they can do even more at work than they already are with work draining them?

I accomplish this by trying to be entertaining. Out of the 12 or so trainers we have in Beverage and Restaurants – I’m by far one of the loudest.  I’m not shy about raising my voice in hopes that I can raise the energy level of a room.  Hopefully they don’t see me as a crazy person.  Each class has about 20-30 employees in it and most of them don’t know me yet.  When I talk, I know I need to get to them on a personal level.  So I share my story of how my parents are also food servers – how their tip money pushed me through college.  Now I have a hook. They may bother to listen to me because they know I am a product of hard work.  I’m not just privileged to have a management position and paid to lecture them.  My messages are different each time depending on the room.  But my point is the same.  We can work together as a team.  We can make the difference.

I always forget people’s names.  That’s something I need to work on.  Maybe it’s something I should promise.  I promise to be better with names.

As part of the training, we ask our employees to make some new promises.  Things they will do to be better at their jobs.  I made promises like how I’d know the drink menus and specials better.  What are all the restaurants known for?  I made promises that I’d look into making sure the restaurants look brand spanking new. I hope I can keep those promises just as I expect our employees to keep theirs.

So whenever you’re in a rut as a young professional – think of it as an opportunity to teach those around you how things SHOULD be.  Don’t accept the way things are.  You make the difference.  Ask – are you going to be a teacher?  Or are you going to allow yourself to follow those who have no faith in fighting the good fight.

Paul Nguyen

Dream. Captivate. Inspire.

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