The Union Club of Cleveland’s Lawrence McFadden, CMC, GM/COO, believes an employee’s support system outside of work is critical to success and that those individuals deserve the club’s appreciation, too.
It is often said, “You don’t leave an organization. You leave people.” But what happens when an employee’s family no longer believes in the people their loved one works with?
In my formative years, my lack of interest in my colleagues’ families could have been described as a professional veneer.
My culinary exposure should not be to blame. Our mantra was “fewer distractions will serve you better.” Many kitchen cultures omitted “feeling” and “concerns” at the door, leaving culinary tasks as their only concerns.
When becoming an Executive Chef, simply asking about staff came with an awkwardness, followed by an imposed mental nervousness.
Interview questions like, “How important is the employee’s family in his or her ability to effectively do a job,” never resonated. My predictable response was always, “Technical ability trumps other interests or needs.”
My maturity eventually changed my perspective and I took a more engaged interest in our staff’s families. I rekindled past friendships while developing a more personal understanding of the people I worked with.
This past year, our employees’ families have been an unmeasured success in our business. These groups provided critical emotional security as our staff came to work. Our unwavering belief in our staff led to a deeper trust in the trust our team’s families had in us as an organization.
Never have we spent more energy checking on families and providing them and loved ones with daily encouragement. As some of our staff members’ family members lost jobs, there was a “fear” for the future. Our role as a club migrated into a pillar of hope or a simple empathic ear during this past year’s journey.
My career has afforded me the privilege to be a part of some great teams. Bill Marriott, Simon Cooper, and Arne Sorenson are inspirational icons who balanced business with humanitarian views. Their natural focus on families kept them centered and consistent in all their values. Our employees here at the Union Club are no different. They light up when we ask about family, often extending questions about a unique occasion or a simple birthday wish.
While our members are often celebrated in business and within their community, their humanitarian and philanthropic influences are often what they are most proud of.
One great way we celebrate families is through our floral program. We often send flowers to family members for their unwavering support of our staff. We’ve eve heard family members joke that the club sends more gifts than their spouse does. In all seriousness, we appreciate the support framework that is necessary for dedicated service excellence.
When we first started this program, we sent flowers to our controller’s wife. When she received them, she thought her husband was no longer with the company. We quickly adjusted the message to read, “Thanks for your unrelenting “current” support of our organization.” We specifically word it as “your support” knowing the importance of a staff member’s balanced life.
Another impactful, employee-family-focused program is our Union Club Foundation Scholarship where families can attend a local charter school and the club will cover the cost of that individual’s tuition. This is an open gift to our staff’s children, grandchildren, and even close relatives as the club tries to impact future generations in addition to serving current families.
While interviewing for this position, I was excited to engage with the club’s membership of professionals, personalities, and influencers. Often in my daily walkthroughs, after I say hello to staff, we always talk about is always something about their family. For those I am a little more familiar with, I’ll note something about spouse, or child shared in previous conversations.
During staff interviews, my go-to question has become, “Will you please tell me about your tribe?” The responses to that simple question often defines if that individual will find a comfortable fit within our service culture.
Dale Carnegie’s once said, “A person’s name is the sweetest sound.” This simple statement motivates my practice of reciting our members’ names when and if possible. Similarly, I acknowledge when a member remembers my wife or daughters’ names. It inspires me that they may see me as a friend, not just as an employee.