Thursday, March 15, 2012


People  are funny.  They sure do have differing opinions when it comes to making choices.  Someone once said, “Opinions are like belly buttons; everyone has one”.

As a youthful GM, I once made the decision to allow my staff to select their own style and color of uniforms.  After numerous attempts at a consensus, to no avail, I ended up having to make the choice of uniforms myself.

Some years prior to that, when I was a young and inexperienced management trainee at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, I was given the assignment to help solve a lingering problem.  [As a side bar, management trainees at a hotel are like the “Mikey’s” of the management team…..remember the “let Mikey try it” commercials?].  There was a Quality Assurance [QA] Committee at the hotel which was comprised of several representatives from all employee groups, including at least one from each department and each shift.  It was determined that the number one complaint, according to the employee suggestion box, was that the food in the employee cafeteria was not satisfactory and was impacting employee morale.

With my new assignment freshly in hand and with a somewhat naive but enthusiastic approach to my new challenge, I proceeded to poll the vocal rank and file.  I had created what I thought was a well- prepared questionnaire and asked as many of the associates to complete it as possible.  I made it a point to receive input from associates from each of the three shifts as well as from participants of each meal period.  Finally, after two weeks of polling and close to 300 opinions out of a pool of 650 associates of the 1012 room hotel, it was time for the compilation of comments and for the report of my findings to the QA Committee.  I’ll never forget the confused look on their faces as I reported the two top employee comments:  Number one was  “the food stinks” and number two was “the portions are too small”.

After much deliberation and discussion, I made my recommendation to always allow associates the choice of having hot dogs, hamburgers and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches available as a food offering at any time throughout the day or night.

Negative comments declined by 30% following the implementation of the new menu choices.

I guess the moral of the story is…When you ask for people’s feedback and get conflicting comments, read between the lines.

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