What you forgot to tell your volunteers before they started, but there's still time (part 3 of 3)

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I have enjoyed this 3 part series applying the customer service philosophy of Horst Schultze, former COO of Ritz-Carlton to our roles as Sherpas who help guests ascend to greater heights at our churches. In the first post, Schultze identified the 3 customers that represent the 3 types of guests that I believe come to your church every weekend and how to be ready for them. In the second post, we learned from Schultze the 3 things every guest wants and I started to unpack how we can address those wants in the context of your church. 

In this post, we will look at the one thing we all forgot to tell our volunteers before they started serving but that I want to begin telling them now. This one thing is my takeaway from what Schultze would say to the entire staff of a new Ritz before they open its doors for the first time. 

Whenever a new hotel would launch, Horst Schultze would meet with about 700 staff including housekeeping, concierges, bellhops, dishwashers, wait staff, and more to infuse the DNA of their culture of customer service. He would begin by saying something like, "Good morning. My name is Horst Schultze, I am the COO of Ritz Carlton, and I am important". Staff would than look at each other, resist rolling their eyes, and listen as he continued. "I am important to this hotel chain. But, if I do not come to work for a week, no one will notice. If you do not come in for a week and the dishes are not washed, or the bedding is not clean, or the food is not served in a timely manner, everybody will notice. Yes, as the COO, I am important. But I started out in Ritz-Carlton as a dishwasher and I know this for sure: You are more important than I am". 

Imagine the impact of that. Comprehend the truth of that for a moment. As I think that through it I have to admit that if I don't show up at work for a week, guests are not going to notice. But if there are no volunteers at Guest Central engaging guests, if there is no one baking cookies to give them, no table hosts at Next Step helping them discover their best play in service or helping them find a small group that is a right fit for them, all the guests will feel the effect of that absence. As Director of Assimilation at my church, I am important. But the volunteer Change Makers on my teams, they are more important that I am.

What if we let that cat out of the bag when we deploy new volunteers? They deserve to know this, and we need to treat them and prepare them in light of this reality. So next time you onboard a new volunteer, launch a new team or a new campus, tell your volunteers the truth before their first serve: They are more important than you. Honoring that reality will go a long way in defining a culture that connects guests well. Knowing how integral they truly are will create a community of Sherpas who will help others climb farther, better and sometimes faster toward being fully engaged followers of Jesus. 

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves". -Philippians 2:3

Special thanks to a great podcast from Andy Stanley that allowed me to hear Schultz tell this story. And here's a book to pick up and go further with your staff on topics discussed in my last 3 posts:

Click image to order

Click image to order

Posts coming soon on signs and solutions for process breakdown. Note also that Climbing the Assimilayas will be down this Saturday thru Monday and go live again Tuesday with a whole new look. Until then!

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  • What do you think your volunteers really think of themselves? What are 3 adjectives that you think they would use to describe their value?
  • When was the last time you communicated their value to them both as a church and as a leader? When is the next time you will do that? How will you do that?
  • Is there a way that you can genuinely let them know that they are more important than you are as staff? How can you build such a paradigm into every volunteer before they begin serving?
Greg CurtisComment