Managing Mondays

Wine Wednesdays

Cashew Wine

A Different Kind of Wine

On a brief visit to Roatan Honduras, a port of call that the ship I was working on was visiting, I decided to visit one of the resorts. On our way there, which was early in the morning, the guide on the bus was pointing out the many floras and faunas they have. All their exotic fruits he was mentioning, and the cashew wine that they produce. mmmm. Wait. What? Cashew Wine? What is this I said to myself? But he wasn’t elobarating so much, so I wanted to ask. What was this Cashew Wine from Honduras? 

Image from the internet. Not mine

The Cashew nut tree is very prominent in Honduras, especially in the South. This wine is fermented from the juice of fresh Cashew fruits, grown  in the village of Namasigüe in  southern Honduras. It has a rich aroma and embodies the character of its exotic parent tropical fruit. He said that the most prominent is the Acaxú wines, and they are on the dry side, drier than the ones produced in Goa, India and Belize. Oh, so other places make cashew wine too! And then he said that they have been making it for a number of years too! Wow! How come I didn’t know about this!?

The fruit of the cashew tree is an accessory fruit and is called the cashew flower, with a strong sweet taste and smell. In Honduras they have a dry cashew wine, however in Belize for example, it is considered a sweet wine. Either way, it is better served cold. Many also say that it is like a Port wine as it is quite strong in taste. The wine is made from the cashew apple pulp, which is very fruity and juicy, said to have notes of mango, raw green pepper and a little hint of grapefruit. Cahew wine is made through the distilling of the Cashew Apple juice. It was normally crushed with feet for maximum juice extraction, however, there are also new machines that they have now been using, due to the high demand. Fermentation lasts for 3 days, and normally takes place in copper pots.

Image from the Internet. Not mine

It is not as common and popular in the US and Europe and it gets quite expensive to get the licence to distribute, however, if you have a chance to visit Honduras or Belize, be sure to try cashew wine. Taste new flavors of wine, and compare to grape wine. In a time were more and more people are aware of their surroundings, nature, and opting to be vegan, gluten free and so much more, wine like cashew wine offers a great alternative and an even greater taste for those who choose it.

Cashew wine. Who knew?! I was very grateful to have learned something new and interesting, in a place I had never been to. Next time you are eating a handful of cashews, remember where they come from, and that their cashew flower fruit is now a cashew wine! Cheers to you!

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

Leading by Example

Your Employees are the Result of You

Just like young kids absorbing everything their mother or father does, your new employees, whether they were there before you with another manager, or are new to the company, they will consciously and subconsiously absort the traits of their leader.

I always stress how important it is to lead by example. If you are always shouting at your team when they do something not up to company’s standards, they will start shouting at each ther and at the guests or customers. If you treat them nicely, positively, and take time to guide them through the processes and a step by step explanation, they will take their time with the guests and with each other. Even with you. If you don’t treat them right, they are not going to treat you right eventually either.

You need to create an environment where respect is visible, attention to detail and positivety is apparent. It all starts from you. It starts from the top. Whenever I visit a team on a cruise ship or hotel especially and notice certain traits from the team that are not so good, I always try to see how their manager works, acts and reacts. If a manager for example is not attentive to the team’s questions, requests and so on, they will in time act the same, whether they are getting training by someone, attending a meeting or even with their customers or guests. 

You need to always think as their leader, that they are watching your every move, seeing how you talk, how you deal with escalated issues, your time management, your precision, your work ethic, you positivety, your reaction to certain action, how you respond to difficult questions, how you act in really difficult situations, and so much more. Think. Think for a second. How would you like to see them work? That is exactly how you should work. If you blow up and get visibly upset when dealing with an angry customer, don’t expect your team to deal with the same situation in a different way. Don’t kid yourself and pull them to the side or have a meeting with them to see why they acted that way if you do the same.

Be the better Manager. Be the Better Leader. Show them how the work should be done, and you won’t have too many situations with your team. Always Lead by Example. It is one of the items I always focus on in all of the training that I give with different types of teams and Managers. Leaders and Managers are all different, but leading by example should be the same.

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

There’s no I in Team

.….But there is I in Individual

I have always believed that when you have a tight and united team, whether it is a small team or a large team, the end product, whether a service or a product, is better. As Managers we always tell our employees to work together, to work as a team, to respect each other, compliment each other, work well together, help each other and so much more. It is also true that when a team really cares for each other, the work is done better. 


As a prime example, and one that I have done and witnessed in my teams, is that when 1 employee, 1 team member doesn’t know the answer to the guest’s or customer’s question, when they ask one of their team members, they give them the answer, or they help them assist the guest. Same when an employee has made a mistake, or given the wrong information for some reason, or was having a very bad day. I have seen it many times, were the guest comes back upset that he or she was givent the wrong information, and the other team mate doesn’t make the other one look bad in order to look good themselves. They apologize and let them know that it was a one off and that they are great at their job, and then assist.


 Now, if this employee would have told the guest “Yes I know, he is not good at his job, I’m sorry you had him to help you, but I can surely help you and I will let the manager know that he didn’t help you, or give you the wrong information”, that looks really bad on the team and the management. A team that works together, surely works better for the advantage of the guests or customers.

However, the managers sometimes still make the mistake that they see every team member as the same person. In order for the team to work well together and be successful, it needs different personalities, efforts, expertese, levels and different fortés. You cannot have everyone great at knowing how the system works, or everyone great at talking with the guests, or everyone good at the phone. You need a little bit of everything. Your employees characters and personalities matter a lot. It colors the team and they are all different. 

You might have a person that is always so happy and someone that sometimes needs a little push to regain the smile when shouted at from a guest. You will have someone that is always challenging you and questioning you as a manager and another one that wants to be in your work time all the time. You will have the one that always unites the team and plans nights out, and another one that doesn’t hang out too much. I’m sure you get the point by now. Everyone is an individual that contributes to the team’s success. So when you approach an employee to correct them in something, to praise them, to give them disciplinary action, to promote them , to ask for help, you need to know your employees well enough to know how to approach them. 

Don’t generalize and assume that everyone reacts and acts the same way! See the Individual in each employee and make sure they become a team!

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

Who Works for Who?

What Some Managers Get Wrong

I don’t mean to start off with the negative, but it is unfortunate to see so many employees become the manager of the team and suddenly think they are better than the rest. Of course, you are now the manager, or one of the managers, for a reason. You have worked hard, put in your efforts, did more than others and so on. But the moment you feel that because you are the Manager, you have a team to work for you and that your team owes you, is the moment that you are devaluing your team, yourself and what you do.

In any management training workshops that I do for many managers in hotels, firms, companies and cruise ships, I start by asking the same question; ” Who are you here for?” In the case of hotels and cruiseships, the majority of the managers tell me that they are here for the guests. WRONG. Managers that have thier own staff/ team to work directly with guests are not there for the guests. These managers are there for their team and their team is there for the guests. Of course, they are there to make sure the guests are happy, but they need to take care of their tram first. Same goes to firms and companies with clients. These managers don’t deal directly with the clients so, but their employees do. I’m not the first one to say this. 

If you feel that your team owes you and that they are there for you, you are very very wrong my friend! YOU work for them. THEY don’t work for you. If your team is not successful, then you are definitely not successful either. The manager needs to be the one working more than his team, developing them, helping them, supporting and empowering them. And this can only be done when the manager is highly present, attentive to his team, guiding and leading them.

When managers think that they have the team to work for them, the guiding, leading, coaching amd empowering stops, and instead, you get an unhappy, overworked, scared of the boss kind of team. Show them you are there for them to help them be better, to succeed and to develop. Remember that the manager’s success relies on the employees’ success, happiness, advancement, empowerment and so much more.

I have always worked hard for my teams. They didn’t work for me. I WORKED FOR THEM. AND STILL DO.

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

Working with Guests and Customers- Continuation from Last week

How to deal with an Irate Guest

Last week on Managing Mondays, we started talking about the steps to take when you are faced with a very upset guest, and most of the time, it is because as a company or product, it failed their expectations. We mentioned the first 4 steps which were to remain calm and poised, to use your best listening skills and let them know you are truly listening to their concerns, remain calm and aknowledge the guest’s right to be angry, and to not take the encounter personally. You are there to help and they are reaching out to you because it is part of your work to assist them when they encounter a problem.


Today, we continue the rest of the steps. After listening to the guests, however long that needs to be, we then need to react and action. The next step is to actively Sympathize. After the customers vent, they want to know that you understand where they are coming from and how they are feeling. Express sympathy for their unpleasant customer experience. Respect and understanding go a long way towards smoothing things over. With sympathy comes in the next step which is to show Empathy. Put yourself in the customer’s or guest’s shoes. Would you be happy with what happened or what was supposed to happen but didn’t? There should be a show of emotion, without giving off your emotion, but your empathy. If this doesn’t happen, the next step of apologizing will not be as effective.

Apologizing grcefully is your next step. Whether the cutomer’s complaint is legitimate or not, is really irrelevant. You need to express an apology for the problem they are having (or perceive to be having). A simple straightforward statement like “I am really sorry that this has happened to you. Let’s see how we can be better for you. Don’t forget the Power of a Name. Addressing them by their name or last name is extremely important. Once you use a name, you are suddendly speaking with a real person, an individual that has a job, family, and a reason behind their frustration. 


It is important to speak soflty, especially if the guest is raising his or her voice or screaming back at you. If this is happening, you might want to take them inside an office or to a side, so that the other customers or guests are not being affected. The softer and quiter you speak, the more the guests need to listen to what you will be doing for them. If you try to shout over them, it becomes a verbal battle. The customer will eventually lower his or her voice to hear what you have to say for them. After all, they approached you for a resolution and you are letting them know what you will be doing. The next steps are finding a suitable solution and owning responsibility of the situation. The worst thing you can do to a guest or customer is to give their concern to someone else and they have to repeat, making them work during their vacation, or visit or experience. Don’t pass the buck as that makes you look incompetent or that you don’t feel like helping them. Make their problem yours and work towards fixing and providing a resolution for them.


Remember, this doesn’t come immediately, it takes practise, and patience with yourself to learn more of how better you can be to your customers or guests. If you missed last week’s Managing Mondays post, go to Captin Falzon on facebook or add Captain Falzon on wordpress blogs to be able to read it. Remember, the happier your guests, the easier your work will be! Happy Monday!

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

Working with Guests and Customers- An Introduction

How to Deal with an extremely Irate Guest

If your work consists mostly of dealing and talking with guests and customers, then you have for sure at some point come across someone very upset, rude, or both. Most of the time it is because they are not happy with a service or product. After years of this experience, I will tell you now, that 98% of the time they are right to be upset and angry. But not directly at you (unless you really have done someting personal to the guests that affects them personally). And most of the time, they are genuine. It took me a few years to really have this embeded in me, until I had figured it out, mainly because of experience and different training sessions. And during that time, I would say, I pissed off a few guests with becoming angry because they were angry, didn’t beleive them, or made the situation worse. It didn’t happen a lot,  but I am not afraid to say it happened a few times in those few years. For me, now, that is unacceptable.

Today we will look at some of the many steps that the manager and the employee need to have run through theit thoughts whenever they are faced with a really upset guest or customer. We will go much more in depth in the blog sessions to come, but I wanted to briefly highlight a few of them today. Remember, how you respond can make the difference between a customer or guest that feels satisfied with the resolution and one who vows to never patronize your business again.

Steps:

The 1st step you need to take is to remain calm and poised. If this doesn’t happen or you loose it very fast, what follows is in vain. Believe me when I say this. It happened to me. As soon as you loose your cool, you are done. The next steps are very hard to achieve. If a guest is yelling, being loud, or otherwiese rude, nothing can be gained by responding in a similar manner. The customer’s tirade might make you ffel like yelling yourself, but don’t. Control yourself. Remember, it is not personal. They just need to let someone know and that someone is you, in your position. 

The 2nd step is to use your best lisening skills  and let them know you are truly listening. The first thign an angry customer or guest wants to do is vent, and to do so, you are there to listen. Listening patiently can diffuse a situation as long as they feel acknowledged. Body language is also very important. Miantain eye contact and a strong straight posture. This shows how closely you are paying attention to their problem. Take notes and don’t talk, let them talk. After they finish, repeat and summarize what they have said and ask if the information you gathered is correct. Be patient and aknowledge the guest’s right to be angry. 

The next big step, even though I have already mentioned it, is to NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Listen to their emotions without any of your emotions. It’s a very fine line and this is sometimes quite hard for many customer service agents to do and to realize, but if you work on it continuously, by time this becomes very easy for you. It’s a very fine line and this is sometimes quite hard for many customer service agents to do and to realize, but if you work on it continuously, by time this becomes very easy for you.

After these 4 steps, it is time for you to action.  There are a few more steps you need to take. Now that they have vented, you listened, you need to assist them, apologize and mean what you say and what you do.
Next Monday we will cover the next few steps, like sympathizing, empathizing, apologizing,  speaking softly, voicing your solution to the customer, owning it and taking responsibility. Stat tunes for thr continuation next week! Have a great and productive week.

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

What Type of Leader Should you Aspire to Be?

Here are a few notes on what to expect when you become a new leader and how to make yourself become a great one

When I became an Assistant Manager at the Cruise Line Company I work for, even though I had managed before, it was a totally different thing. Imagine the difference of quantity of staff, guests and work, between a hotel and very large cruise ships. During my first few weeks as the Assistant Manager, I needed time to know my team and my manager. I kind of remember being a little too soft, in an attempt to make sure they like me. Everyone kind of does it, but I knew it wasn’t the way. I also knew that I shouldn’t be the other extreme either, by just being too strict and telling them what to do. So I focused on showing them how I want them to work and talk to our guests by doing it myself. That way, I was leading by example.

Being a Manager doesn’t mean that you make your team work so that you could look good. Being a Manager is Leading your team into success and ensuring they are succesful. It means that you work for them because they work for the guests. You are there for them, to lead and guide them, protect them, train them, and make sure they are successful for themselves. When I then became the Manager, that was exactly what I aimed to do, with little failure.

If you expect your employees to come to work 5 minutes before, you should also do the same. If you expect your employees to treat your guests or customers with empathy and with kindness, you should do the same. Treat your employees really good. Respect their work, give them good feedback as much as possible, and listen to their ideas and also their life stories and what they are going through. BUT, don’t expect them to do the same for you. They don’t work for you, it’s the other way round. Don’t expect them to tell you what a good job you did with that irate guest, don’t expect them to listen to what is happening to you, and most importantly don’t expect everyone to like you. 

Once, I was opening one of our new ships and I had started training the managers and the teams by now, something I really love doing, and one of the employees told me “Wow Marie, you are so good. Everyone loves you.” While that comment was very positively natured and well meant by this employee, I did thank her but reassured her that it is not possible to have everyone love you and the way you work. If everyone loves you, then you are doing something wrong as a manager. Yes, the aim is to have the majority of the employees like you, and like working with you, but you cannot satisfy everyone. It is impossible. There will be either people who don’t like how you work or deal with things through charachter, others that stick to the past managers or others that like how you work so much that they get envious. So you see, “everyone loving you” cannot happen. As a Manager, you do need to have most of your employees liking you or else it doesn’t work. Respect your team and they will respect you. Bend over and backward and sideways for your team, but if they don’t do their job properly, show them how, and also show them the consequences and how you expect them to work, through your leadership and performance.

When you become a new manager, make sure you do get to kow your team and that they get to know that you are there for them. Set examples, not just deadlines. Set great and rewarding targets, not just numbers. Make sure they feel comfortable approaching you for assistance. And for yourself, as a leader, make sure you are happy leading, make sure you are doing everything in your power and work to achieve their success and not their love.

Be a Better Leader than you were Yesterday.

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

Maximizers and Satisficers

Are you a Maximizer or a Satisficer? Or are you Both? Or do you use them in different life scenarios?

What is the difference between them and how do you use them Professionally and Personally?


About a year ago, I found a book and if I remember correctly, it was called “Why less is More”, or something along those lines, however I remember a lot from the content of the book, which is the most important. It confused me, but as I started reading the first few pages, I could immediately tell what the book was all about. It started informing how Maximizers and Satisficers behave in day to day life. The author also said that with the amount of choices for the same product that we have nowadays, it becomes very hard sometimes to make a quick decision. Take a packet of cereal for example. There are aisles and aisles full of cereal. How do you choose and how fast can you choose?

A Satisficer will take action after the criteria they are looking for is met. As an example, if one is looking for a cereal with the lowest sugar content and contains a few nuts and dried fruit, as soon as they find one, a.k.a. what they are looking for, they take it and buy it, and do not need to try and look for other products.

A Maximizer needs to make the optimal decision. So, this maximizer is also looking for the cereal with the lowest sugar content and contains a few nuts and dried fruit. However when the maximizer finds a product, he or she will keep on searching for a similar one, and compare, and tries to find another one and another one. So even if the maximizer finds what he or she is looking for, the maximizer will not make a decision until they have examined every product and compared everything. They need to know that they are making the best decision ever.

Most people will be more of a Maximizer or a Satisficer in life, but that doesn’t mean that they are always either one or the other. And that also doesn’t mean that if you are mostly a Maximizer in your personal life, that you are also so in your Professional life, or vice versa. Maximizers tend to spend a lot of time on one thing and sometimes, as a consequence miss out on other things or the subject itself. The author also said that Satisficers tend to be a bit more happier than Maximizers, as the latter spend too much energy on one thing. However, when it comes to business, work, and leadership, it could be very beneficial. 

As an example, I tend to sway between the both, or maybe I can be a limited Maximizer. I love to have the best, do the best and find the thing that I love, but I’m not going to spend an extensive amount on one thing. Sometimes, if I find something that I’m looking for and it attracts me, then I won’t look any further. That’s more towards the Satisficer side. At work though, whether I am preparing training, talking to an employee, producing manuals and training material, I do tend to be a little bit of a maximizer. 

If a Leader is a 100% Satisficer, chances are that a business or a team or a company will not become the best in their business. You should be aiming to be the best at what you do. A Maximizer is great for business and for the development of one’s self. Be a leader that sets examples to your employees or your team. Show them that you would want the best for your business and for them. Show them to work harder and to spend quality time preparing, choosing or working to Maximize everything they work for.

There is no right or wrong with being a Maximizer or a Satisficer, but the choice you make every day and at work is highly important on what you choose and how much time you decide to spend on what things. 

What are you mostly, a Maximizer or a Satisficer?

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

Choosing Your Words Carefully- The “No Problem” word

How Great is your Communication to the Team and to your Guests?

There is a word in the Customer Service Business that I despise. It’s the word “No Problem”. Read it, Listen to it. It has 2 negative words in it. “No” and “Problem”. However, almost everywhere you go, as an example, if you ask a waiter for an item, or even simply ordering your food, many of them will say “No Problem”. Especially if it is a request, there is a 91% chance that you will get a “No Problem” back. When the waiter gets you your requested item and you say “Thank you”, there is a 96% chance that you will get a “No Problem” back. I have a little problem with it. Why?

I love to Conduct Training wherever I am, even if unscheduled and the teams always appreciate the extra assistance in making them better at what they do

If a customer or a guest requests something and you are able to do it or provide to them, they will most of the time say “Thank you”. They are genuinely thanking you for being able to enhance their experience or attending to their needs. When you are telling them ” No Problem”, it is like telling them: “It took a lot of effort for me, but I am working in this position and have to help you whether I like it or not, and because I have to do it, I did it, even though it would have been easier for me not to need to do it.” Instead, we need to be saying “Absolutely”. Wow, what an amazing word to say to a guest or a customer. “Absolutely, I want to do anything I can to make you happy or to provide you with what you need.”

Maybe some guests or customers don’t realize it is such a negative word, however there are many people in the customer service business like me, that notice these things. Why would you not want to say something better than “No Problem”. You need to sound friendlier and that you want to be there and want to make their experience better. You and only you are responsible for providing their comfort, their experience or their service. How we talk and what we say to the guests may affect them subconciously. By carefully choosing very positive words, responses and also basic communication to them, will definitely affect how they rate you when they need to. You need to think of each and every guest or customer as your most important guest or customer.

Teach and guide your Team with Interactive Training and Role Play

I always make sure to include a “How to Communicate better to your guests”- (What to say instead of), in my trainings whether it’s onboard the largest ships in the world that I work on most months in the year, or whether I am invited to do a few Customer Service lessons at renonwed Hotels and Boutique Hotels around the world. I dedicate an entire module on what words to say that sound extremely appealing and satisfying to your guests and customers. Another example is a sentence starting with “Unfortunately we don’t….” If a guest or a customer asks you for something or a service that is not possible or available, by starting off with he word “Unfortunately”, you have already lost a lot of the guests attention because without saying anything more, you are already telling them you cannot provide it to them and as the guest already knows they are not getting the service or the item they want, they can either get upset before you tell them something else, whether it is an alternative or another solution. They stop hearing you for just a little bit. I have experienced all of this by the way, and as soon as I started to learn more how to communicate to my guests, it improved me, my service and the company tremendously. Start with something positive. You need to tell them that their request is not possible, but there are some other alternative solutions to it. So ease into it. Start by, for example, “Although we are not able to provide your requested service, we do offer…” How much nicer do I sound here! Much Nicer!

Extremely Happy buy hearing one of my team members talk so professional and positive to our guests

There are a lot of details that I could get into here with alternative responses, however it would be an extremely long blog. If you are interested in getting hold of this type of training, email me on: captainfalzon@gmail.com and I will be happy to provide it to you. I am always available to help your teams become better team players and leaders, therefore providing better service to your guests and customers! Happy Monday. Manage well, Lead well!