Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts golden rule revolve around the simple idea to treat others as you wish to be treated. This ideology is not only testament of true service ethics but a reality of human nature if we are to have a reciprocal state of progress in our professional and personal lives. It is not merely stated or easily achieved, but through consistent patterns of behaviours enact by action with purpose are new habits born.
Yet after almost two decades in business, travelling, working and communicating with people from all walks of culture across continents I can say these five points are a stickler for putting any relationship in the red.
No one likes to prepare for something only to have it pushed back time and time again. Yes, there are situations where it is inevitable cancellations must apply, but in postponing a meeting or the update on a project timeline, it is essential to provide clear and concise reporting on the need for extra time or cancellations.
A tip before committing to a project - plan well ahead. Think about not only the things needed to get done but the possibility of it not getting action in the time frame you assume it will be. It is better to offer a bit of cushion time and in doing so protects your integrity and the integrity of mutual interests. This simple act shows that you are serious about what you do and expect the same level of communication in return.
Failure To Follow-up
This can be particularly unsettling, and even the best of us fail to consider the significant repercussion sloppy follow-up can have on future exchanges. Underestimating the time of your recipient in providing prudent feedback or acknowledgement to emails, telephone calls or requested office information show a lack of personal organisation and can effectively make you lose out on new opportunities. This lack of transparency can make business partners or supporting staff feel uneasy working with you if they get the impression you are not dependable or respectful to their involvement or time. Even more, if it is a business colleague or longtime associate the body language can become stifled if both parties are not adequately engaged.
A good tip and something that has become very useful is the automated message builder that many electronic platforms offer with trending features including google. Technology has given us incredible tools that allow us to manage our time better. Get proactive, and create a timeline that organises your most important data and set boundaries or time limits that will let you effectively re-visit or follow-up with a Client, Associate or Team Member in an appropriate timeframe.
Don't Follow Through On Your Word
What’s worse than neglecting to follow-up —failing to make good on what you say you’ll do. Remember, everything you do or don’t do becomes a visual representation of you and your personal brand. Failing to uphold the letter of your own words can reflect poorly when trying to gain the complete trust from new business allies or team members.
As a good rule of thumb, think thoroughly before making grand gestures or getting overly confident in how much of your time and energy is indeed possible to commit to a new project. It is always better to create a WOW experience of going beyond expectations than it is to build the hopes of a Client or Team then only to fall short due to burn out or misconceptions.
Dodging Calls If You Don’t Feel Like It or Haven’t Adequate Information To Support Progress
An opportunity to use your voice to connect with a business contact or colleague is essential. Don't be afraid of speaking up even if you need a bit more time or don't have all the answers at that moment. Remember, this person took the time to call you out of their schedule. You may have been driving, in a meeting or other but being courteous to return calls in a timely manner are acts that reflect strong participation to the business relationship and shows your professionalism. It also allows you to reassure them and put to rest any uncertainty that may later create roadblocks.
Remember, respect goes both ways, and a breakdown in valued communication will create friction very quickly
Assuming Other People Will 'Get it'
Assuming that it is not necessary to follow up or make the required effort to ensure all parties are fully aware of their responsibility or satisfied is as the saying goes - to make an ass out of you and me - 'never assume'.
Remember you are dealing with human beings and uniquely so, paying the proper attention and time to ensure your integrity and efforts are well received is your responsibility.
Consider this scenario, you are working in the Food and Beverage department of a well-known vacation resort, and your job as Food and Beverage Coordinator requires the dissemination of information to the relevant departments in preparation for a wedding. After working a full week on details and logistics, you have come up with a lovely plan, spoken with the bride and groom and all is well for their arrival within the next few days. You've sent the email of clearly stated requirements to the pastry team, housekeeping, food and beverage director and front office team. You're all set and all is in motion and ready for the big day. You are confident all is well because you've done all that you could do. Or have you?
The reality is, plainly stated instructions are there for guidance but the real work revolves around physical efforts and real interactions through follow-ups either by e-mails, quick calls or site checks. The only peace of mind anyone can have that something is well received is to never assume progress has been made but to take the initiative in participating through the process of its achievement.