Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The New Gold Standard in Education

Have you ever stayed at the Ritz-Carlton and experienced its WOW factor or Mystique?  I have not had the opportunity to stay there, but am aware of its distinction and top class service. I was intrigued when a friend shared with us how her business was transforming due to the use of the New Gold Standards shared by the Ritz-Carlton.  Even though these standards were developed to provide quality service to guests for the hotel industry, it can easily be used in the service we provide in education. There are schools that are just as successful in providing these same type of WOW experiences for their students. I became curious to see what standards both industries have in common.

Joseph A. Michelli has written about the success of many companies including Starbucks, Zappos, and the Ritz-Carlton.  This blog is about my reflections as a result of reading The New Gold Standard:  5 Leadership principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience.  Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.  I chose to see the term "student" rather than "guest" or "customer".

These are my top 5 take aways from the reading; not to be confused with the 5 New Gold Standards.

1.  "The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid." - Thomas Kempis

This quote reminds us that as much as our mission as educators is to provide rigorous experiences to maximize student potential so they may be successful in this ever changing global society, it cannot be achieved if the base from which it comes is not strong.

The Ritz-Carlton reminds us that we must purposefully "select" rather than "hire" when filling in a stakeholder position affecting students. The new member must go through a purposeful orientation instilling the Credo (mission), Motto (core of culture), and Service Values (ways of BEING rather than DOING) and carry these with them at all times throughout their career.

As a teacher, I must continually ensure that my objectives are clear, manageable, and congruent with the mission of our building.

"Service Value #3:  I am empowered to create unique, memorable, and personal experiences."

2.  "We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves otherwise we harden." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

The number one Gold Standard for the Ritz-Carlton is to define and refine.  The staff not only carries the Credo, Motto, Pledge, and Service Values with them, they are reminded of those standards in the daily "Line Up".  It is in these positive meetings that they are reminded of the mission, hear examples of exceptional experiences, get recognized for achievements, and receive motivational quotes for the day.

I am reminded about the importance to continually reach toward the moving carrot.  It is not good enough to just read the great works of others in education, but make a commitment to use what I have learned, as long as it will take the students to a desired outcome. The purpose of my blog is to take the inspiration from what I have read and post the take aways in what I will commit to do.

"Service Value #8:  I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow."

3.  "Achievement is largely the produce of steadily raising one's level of aspiration and expectations." - Jack Nicklaus

The Ritz-Carlton has a standard to empower through trust. Employees are empowered in many ways to enhance the experience they can offer.  Their opinions count and can be heard at "Day 21", the daily Lineup, department meetings, SWOT meetings where data is shared, and when solicited for ideas of innovation.  They are empowered to handle any roadblock that comes their way, even if it doesn't pertain to their particular job.  They learn that to obtain the desired outcome takes a collaborative effort.

Students should not be in a building where they feel they can refuse to pick up their lunch garbage or someone else's by saying, "It isn't my job." Not only will I work on modeling that we all share in the responsibility of the functioning of the school, but include other stakeholders, such as the custodians, when doing my job.

"Service Value #7:  I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that needs of all are met."

4.  "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." - Theodore Roosevelt

The fourth Gold Standard reminds all employees that "It's Not About You".  The Motto of the Ritz-Carlton is "Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen".  This is used as the core of their culture.  It is enhanced with their "3 Steps of Service" which states that guests will be greeted by name, have their needs fulfilled, and receive a fond farewell by name.  Understandably, this is an essential element in the foundation in order for the mission to be achieved.

Continually building relationships with all stakeholders must be my personal mission, especially with all students.

"Service Value #1:  I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life."

5.  "Aspire, achieve, teach.  Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The fifth Gold Standard may be what puts the Ritz-Carlton over the top of others in its industry and that is to leave a lasting footprint.  They understand that they are part of the community in which they reside.  They take their first Credo seriously of being a "place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission".  All staff are empowered to carry out this mission when they see a need in the community.  Collaborative efforts are made to involve many community members to work together in meeting the needs of others.

The benefits of working with students on a community service would not only take care of a need that could effect them, but brings together the community as they work on a common cause.  This foundation is what gives the students the support they need that can enhance their ultimate potential.

"Service Value #4:  I understand my role in achieving key success factors, embracing community footprints, and creating mystique."

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Sketch notes by @vrzemaitis

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