Sunday, May 14, 2006

Patronized instead of pampered

So after I posted about being brainwashed the other day, I tried to verify if I had remembered the Ritz Carlton credo correctly. (I did, verbatim) In doing this, I stumbled upon the handbook that is given out during orientation at the hotel when you are hired. It includes the 3 steps of service, motto, credo and the Ritz Carlton Basics, all of which are to be memorized. You can see a copy of it here if you like. (I still have my copy from years ago, but it has changed a little since) Some of the elements of the dogma were the source of much sarcasm once you were a seasoned employee. "Smile, we are on stage," comes to mind.

I was a model employee at first, a real gung ho Reese Witherspoon. I was so proud to be Ritz material. (gag) One of the things we were supposed to do was escort guests instead of giving directions to things in the hotel. I always did this, losing my time on more important things, and annoying many a guest in the process. Do people really want to be escorted to the bathroom? No, no they don't. I think people felt patronized instead of pampered.

The "basics" are really a great tool to give management firing power over the employees. You can be written up for practically anything since you sign a document stating that you will uphold the standards and basics of employment there. So. If we look at the list of "basics", we find things like "No negative comments" (which I see has since been removed from number 9). This is (was) one of the basics. If you complain, that's bad. But you must point out any hazards, and ask for equipment and help when necessary. That's good. So, you can't say, "Why has it been three weeks that the cappucino machine is broken?" However, the moment it breaks, you must inform your supervisor. No complaining after that though, boy, because that's negative.

Oh and I just remembered, we were never allowed to use the word "problem", instead, we had to use the word "opportunity". Seriously. In the restaurant, "the lady on table 15 has an opportunity with her swordfish" was exactly how you were expected to inform your supervisor.

Anyway, maybe this gives more insight to # 37 : I can hate you viciously while smiling.


Snooze said...

I love the use of the word 'opportunity'. I had a friend who worked in communications for the Ontario government about 10 years ago, and they also could never use the word 'problem'.

Freak Magnet said...

Nice about the opportunities. Real nice. That place would either pluck my nerves or brainwash me, as well.

Chunks said...

The Ritz people would drop dead in GP, the service here (everywhere here!) is AWFUL! It takes alot to be able to serve people, and serve them well. Brainwashing indeed.

t said...

Oh, brother.
"The lady on table 15 has an opportunity with her swordfish"?
Sounds like pointy-haired supervisor stuff!

Rebekah said...


All I can say is,

Pete Mitchell said...

Ahhhh, the joys of corporate nazihood: "You vill be happy little vorker bees ... or you vill die!"

We don't have problems either; we have challenges. And the key is what WE can do to rise to them. Unfortunately, when the 'challenge' is "The boss is a dick. And there ain't much I can do about that"; it does create a bit of problem ... I mean, challenge.

GayProf said...

When I was in high school, I worked at a mall clothing store that had a similar lengthy manual about the best way to peddle blue-jeans. No matter what a customer asked us, we were always supposed to answer, “Yes, you can!” So, if they wanted to exchange something (even if it had clearly been worn for the past three years), “Yes, you can!” If they wanted to get a shirt in a different color, “Yes, you can!” If they wanted to treat the sales clerk like a servant, “Yes, you can!”

We won’t even go into their life-altering philosophy they offered about folding sweaters.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

I worked at Canyon Ranch, in Tucson(voted World's Best yada yada yada yada yada). They were the same. Suck up to 'em while you grab the big bucks.
Happy Motha's Day,

ink said...

Now I know why hotel staff tend to freak me out. Wouldn't it just be simpler to say, "Treat the guests the way you would like to be treated if you were at this hotel."

(And, for the record, I would definitely find being escorted to the bathroom patronizing ... or outright creepy!)

sirbarrett said...

It is certainly a talent to smile at someone you wish was dead. That's sounds like quite a tough act over there at Ritz. I would have a big prob -I mean "opportunity" working there.

Now, where are your cappucino machines?

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

I gotta tell you, My new thing is to open your blog, go to the site meter and open the world map, just to see the red dot denoting myself as the most recent visitor to your blog. Maybe I need a life.

Kalvin said...

I hate it when they make you substitute in words. I actually think its more damaging and makes you feel like the company is becoming extremely invasive (I guess I'm neurotic about my own language).

S. said...

I used to work at a stupid department store that had similar handbooks and unreal expectations (like stocking 400 items an hour). It was great for those people stocking make-up but I had to stack bicycles and paint. It would take me all day to stock 400 bicycles. And then we would get written up if were didn't reach 85% productivity. This for a $4 an hour job. How crazy is that?

Gotta love the retail world.

Jason said...

I once snuck into a guest's room when I worked at a CP hotel and felt like I was in a mission impossible movie just trying to get out the next day without being seen by all the staff.

Patricia said...

note to self: skip the ritz