I’m a big fan of Danny Meyer. If you don’t know who Danny Meyer is, he’s the founder of Union Square Hospitality Group. He wrote a book called Setting the Table, which is an amazing book on, among other things, managing restaurants.
If you’re not in New York or in the restaurant business, he’s the guy who started Shake Shack.
Danny Meyer has said and written many wise things, many of which have influenced my management style. But there’s one thing that he wrote that really keeps coming back to me, and I’m paraphrasing here…
“Service” is the technical delivery of the product – speed, accuracy, etc. – but “hospitality” is how you make the recipient feel while you are delivering the product.
I’ve taught that lesson many times over, I’ve hired entire teams with that in mind, and I’ve counseled managers on how to hire and cultivate hospitality in their restaurants.
But the more I reflect on it, in occurs to me: this isn’t just restaurant wisdom, this is wisdom, full stop.
All day, every day, we “perform” for others. For our boss, for our significant other, for the other drivers on the road, for the cashier at the grocery store, for our children, for everyone we meet. Factor out everything but the technical delivery of our action: we turn in assignments, we share a bed and chores and such, we avoid crashing into each other (usually), we pay for our groceries, we feed our kids…
I would encourage you to stop and evaluate – as often as possible – how you are making the recipients of each of these services feel while you’re delivering your service.
Are you making your boss feel at ease because you deliver the product with a smile, a day early, with extra notes and thoughts to demonstrate that you’re eager for more work? Are you making your boss feel like you respect him or her by following the instructions, reading between the lines, and going out of your way to make the boss’s priority your priority?
Or are you turning in your work at the very last second, making excuses, such that the boss accepts it but feels like he or she should maybe back off on you a little? Are you doing the bare minimum, so your boss feels like what they asked of you was too much? Are you making your boss feel negatively about you and your work through the manner in which you deliver on what they ask for?
How do you make your mate feel in the delivery of your obligations to the household? Do you make it feel like an imposition and like he or she owes you one? Or do you make it feel like it’s a pleasure to get to make his or her life a little better through your work?
Do you drive in a way that conveys your desire to make others’ lives a little easier? Or do you ride the bumper of the guy in front of you to make sure that late-merging asshole sliding up to your right knows that he waited too late, and you’re not going to be the sucker that lets him cheat his way into this lane?
Do you argue with the grocery checker when the price is off by 30 cents on something that was supposed to be on sale? Or are you cognizant of the fact that you pay $5 for coffee on a regular basis even though it’s free at your work simply because you like the $5 fancy coffee better, and 30 cents of “it’s the principle of the thing” is really just you being an asshole and making the cashier’s day worse?
Do you convey your excitement for the opportunity to take your kids to school? Do your kids know that you consider it an absolute honor and privilege to be their parent? Or do they possibly think, as their brains develop and they start to understand passive-aggressiveness, sarcasm, and rudeness, that you consider them a burden and an obligation?
It’s not enough to do your job. Doing your job makes you replaceable, because like it or not, others can do your job, too…and if you do your job well but make your boss/partner feel like crap while you do it, eventually, your boss/partner will seek out other options to get the job done. Your kids will grow up remembering you as a passive-aggressive nightmare, or worse, they’ll do the same stuff to your grandkids. Your kids will grow up feeling like they are worth less than they really are, and that will play out in their lives in ways you’d never wish upon anyone.
Doing your job while focusing on making the recipient feel positively about it makes you damned near irreplaceable, because no one’s looking to replace the bad-ass performer who’s also a super-likeable person.
Remember, we’re all delivering something to someone every day. Service is the technical execution of the delivery of that something. Hospitality is how you make people feel while you deliver it.
Both are important, but you’re delivering without having to think. Focus intently on how you make people feel while you deliver, and watch things change in your world.