Proximity Management

I just read an excellent article on “The real secret of thouroughly terrific companies”, by Peter Bregman. Bregman recounts and explains his terrific experiences in staying at the Four Seasons Hotel Chain. He sees what he calls “Proximity Management” being practiced. The managers know about their employees. There is a lot of trust within the different properties. There is open communication. There are monthly meetings, without any agenda, and the GM (Michael Newcombe) just engages in conversation. There are such meetings with all employee groups. 

Here is one anecdote, of how open communication solved a huge problem:

During his meeting with the front desk staff, he learned they were slower than usual in checking in guests because rooms weren’t available. Then, in his meeting with housekeeping staff, someone asked if the hotel was running low on king size sheets. Most CEOs wouldn’t be interested in that question, but Michael asked why. Well, the maid answered, it’s taking us longer to turn over rooms because we have to wait for the sheets. So he kept asking questions to different employee groups until he discovered that one of the dryers was broken and waiting for a custom part. That reduced the number of available sheets. Which slowed down housekeeping. Which reduced room availability. Which delayed guests from checking in.

Read the full article at The Harvard Business Blog here.

2 thoughts on “Proximity Management”

  1. I agree that the article is very interesting. The reason I started looking in to this was because a number of my colleagues are struggling with their 121s with their staff. The main reasons for the struggles are not knowing what to work on with top performers. They feel that the 121 is a waste of time because they have nothing to work on. I am keen to read more in to this style of management as a way of aiding 121s.

    Does anyone have any advise on using this style of management with 121s?

  2. SImjoh:

    Thanks for visiting. I do my 1-1s regularly every month. The main thing that I enforce is that, there would be minimal status talk during the 1-1. There are status meetings for that. The 1-1 is an exclusive time for discussing other things such as:
    – things that could be improved in the system
    – new ideas that the employee has
    – anything that I could improve on.
    – does the employee have any concerns about the work env.
    – any other talk?
    Sometimes the talk does go over to personal side of things – which is fine too, because I learn the other warmer side of the employee, and get to know him/her closer. Effective management in my opinion, is to know the emplyee inside out and knowing their capabilities, such that, work can be delegated, to get the best work done, with satisfaction from both sides.

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