Behind the turnaround

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou

I’ve had one of the busiest quarters of my life. From around September last year, I’ve been on tour around the country and launched my sanitary bank campaign, which required a lot of travelling. At the same time, I was a judge on the just-concluded Blaze BYOB TV show.  

This meant I was away from my family, so we had a talk and I promised we’d go for a one-week holiday away from the city. We went someplace a week ago, and got VIP treatment all the way from the hotel reception to the rooms.

I’m a very curious chap. There had been some stories spread about this particular hotel, so I was really surprised that their service had gone way up to an A+.

I asked around for the manager to see if we could have a chat because most businesses, when they get to the point of bad press, tend to die.

Customer satisfaction

Fortunately, the general manager happened to be a fan, so we hit it off nicely and he gave me the turnaround story.

The hotel had a management issue, and by the time it got a new team on board, it had to reboot everything. That meant new staff and a new strategy.

I took a walk with the GM, and he kept pointing out the renovations and most importantly, highlighting the tenets of their business model. At the top of his list was customer satisfaction.

I feel like the term ‘customer satisfaction’ has been blown out of proportion in business journals; I wanted details. What also got me was that the GM’s thinking was different, but he had a complaint that I’ve talked about in one of my columns.

Millennials are a really smart generation, but they’re the ‘microwave’ generation; they want overnight success. Most are not willing to work, yet they have lots of demands.

I think what separates them from most other generations is that they’re informed. And whatever they don’t know, they can find out from the device in the palm of their hands in real time.

Anyway, my daughter came to find me, so the GM and I had to cut the story short. I’d promised not to work, but clearly, I was breaking promises already. I got some reprimanding from Gweth about this as we walked to the beach.

The following morning, my family didn’t wake up as early as I did, so I left for the restaurant to have breakfast. And I was itching to know exactly what the hotel did differently. Fortunately, as I was having my breakfast, the GM came to my table and I invited him to pull a chair.

We picked up from where we’d left off. He mentioned that he employed new energy, with three-quarters of his staff being millennials. And as much they’re a different breed, the hotel took some time to just study them and then came up with a different work approach.

The takeover

This reminded me of what I do with Kaka Empire every year. But before I go into the details, let me tell you about a reader I met the previous week.

He asked me a question I hear often: Why did I agree to write this column, which meant I’d be giving away secrets to my Empire, secrets I’d found out the hard way over the course of many years?

Well, I’ve never looked at it that way. The only way people should look at it is that we were inspired on our way up, so we should do the same. Plus, you don’t lose when you give out information.

Anyway, this is what I do with millennials at my company: I admire their traits and I believe their approach to the world is pretty golden. So every year I look for young people in fields that they aspire to work in, from management to the front desk, and give them a ‘three-month takeover’ of Kaka Empire.

This basically means I get a group of millennials to take over the company for a period of time – with a share of the profits, of course. The key outcome I want is the most dynamic and creative approach and execution of business ideas and goals.

Truthfully speaking, these are months I look forward to. Just seeing them in action gives the business new energy. Keep in mind that they don’t have experience – they’re just running on instinct. It’s been a very successful campaign, and every year, we end up employing more people to my team.

And I owe one of the transformations in my company to this new generation of young, emerging business moguls. Anyway, let me get back to my holiday. See you next week.

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

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