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Interview with a Service Superstar

publication date: May 4, 2013
author/source: Bryan Williams, D.M.

Interview with a Service Superstar

April 22, 2011

We will periodically bring you interviews with people who work like they own it! These service superstars consistently work with pride, passion, and professionalism. The purpose of these interviews is to gain some insight into how these world-class service professionals approach their job and what is needed to keep them motivated.
This week, we have an interview with Rebecca Stayner. She is the office manager of  Generations, LLC, which is a long-term care company based in Portland, Oregon. Here is what Rebecca had to say in response to our questions...

        In your own words, what does it mean to "work like you own it"?
"Work like you own it" means to act like the actual owner would act at any given moment. Everything matters. What would the owner choose to do? It also means to have passion, and use a set of guiding principles to make a decision. Sometimes the shortest minutes of my day are the ones that I take pride in, having done something meaningful for someone else. I'm also fortunate in that I get to see the owners of Generations regularly, and how extremely motivated they are. I see how they take the time to deliberate over key decisions.
"Working like you own it" also means to never talk poorly about people, but rather set them up for success. Setting people up for success involves:

  • Troubleshooting
  • Not withholding pertinent information
  • Double-checking my communication to and from my team
  • Remembering that I chose to be here, and following the company's vision, mission, and values

       What motivates you to go above and beyond to WOW your customers?

Having ownership over something / Knowing that my managers recognize the evolution of my job over time / Exposing me to educational opportunities and recognizing that I'm worth investing in.  

       What do you consider to be your own personal service standards?
Well, the mantra I play in my head all day is a variation of a quote I once heard (from Thomas Huxley): "Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not and give every single person the service you would give a loved one."  

        What advice do you have for managers who want to keep people like yourself motivated and engaged?
To really engage employees, the manager needs to communicate with their staff. Also, allow the staff to see the senior leaders as "real people", who model the mission of the organization. In fact, I recently saw one of our owners, Wendell, rush past my desk in the corporate office lobby, and dash outside. When he returned, he told me that when he was in his office upstairs, he saw an elderly man stumble on the sidewalk outside. So Wendell ran outside to check on the man to make sure that he was fine. 

       Give me an example of a time you WOW'd a customer
         A resident attending a writing class on campus had a one page piece he had written and brought to me, needing 6 copies to share with the class then next day. I noticed his handwriting was particularly hard to read, so I asked if I could type his paper for him, saying that it would take just a minute to do. He expressed relief because he was supposed to read it out loud while people in the class followed and that it would be much easier for him to read from a typed page.

He brought me one page a week for several months and I saved all of them on the computer. Just for fun, when his class ended, I pulled up all the writing he did, put it in the chronological order of his life stories contained within, added a few graphics of locations he specifically mentioned in his travel stories, added an elegant cover page with his name, and bound about 6 copies in older presentation materials we were no longer using around the office. The effect was actually quite excellent. I stuck them in a large envelop and left it at his door.

After the Christmas holiday he came to say that he handed out the books as gifts to his family and that they read them together. He said many of the grandkids had never heard any of his stories at all and he got compliments on his story telling abilities. This resident stops in regularly just to say hi. :)

       Give me an example of a time you WOW'd one of your co-workers
          There was a new employee in the Wellness Center at CherryWood Village (CWV) and one of my duties is to convert the CWV calendars into pdfs and then forward them to the person in his position so that he can email out to contacts/prospects/families.

It felt a little strange to be introduced merely as 'welcome to the team, please do this for me' so I decided at the first occasion I could to introduce myself in person. So while at the next senior leader meeting at CWV, during a break (I had called ahead to check if he'd be working that day), I went down, introduced myself and asked him about himself, how he liked CWV, and his personal/professional goals. He said he was trying to study grief counseling and pictured that as having great benefit to our residents and even employees.

When back at the office, I used some of our AMEX points to purchase a book with the highest recommendation ratings on the topic of learning the art/skill of grief counseling. When it arrived a few days later, I took it to our VP of Marketing and Operations, Lewis, because knowing Lewis has a degree in psychology I thought he might be a good contact for someone just starting out in the field. Lewis said he'd be happy to take the book to the new employee and offer his insights and contact - which he then did the very next day.

We got a nice thank you email from the employee and the cooler part, for me anyway, is that in the course of regular email communication, he often gives me an aside about where he is in the book, where he is in his pre-licensing process, and other experiences about how it's going.

B. Williams Enterprise, LLC
Email: info@bwenterprise.net

Mailing Address:

15480 Annapolis Road, Suite 202, #223
Bowie, MD 20715

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