As part of their mindset and culture change efforts, Iolani Palace* has implemented Arbinger’s 3A+ performance management system. In 3A+, employees meet regularly with their managers for open conversations about their performance. The process sparks self-accountability among employees and boosts collective results (learn more).
It also means managers sometimes receive surprising feedback and gain unexpected insights.
At the Palace, one manager wondered why she was always putting out fires.
It seemed she never had time for her more strategic roles. She felt stuck solving the tactical problems her employees brought to her.
In addition, she struggled to boost employee engagement. She had been trying to solve absenteeism, low morale, and low productivity for some time, with no success.
She asked her employees for feedback.
This manager used the 3A+ conversations as an opportunity to learn about her own leadership style. She went into the conversations with curiosity, carefully preparing herself beforehand to openly receive whatever feedback her employees might give.
And what feedback they gave!
Based on her employees’ comments, the manager realized she’d been micromanaging. She’d been running around firefighting because she’d never empowered her employees to put out the fires themselves.
On the problem of employee engagement, she saw that she’d been trying to motivate her employees without asking what would actually motivate them.
This feedback sparked a desire in the manager to change.
It was difficult – she wasn’t used to giving up control. She heavily relied on her boss for coaching and support, and on her direct reports for continual feedback.
The results were phenomenal.
Regarding the engagement problem, the manager discovered her employees had come up with some excellent improvement ideas long ago, but had never felt comfortable sharing them with her. Now that they could see the manager’s openness and curiosity, they reciprocated by putting all their ideas on the table. Some suggestions included adjustments in scheduling, daily and weekly goals set by the employees themselves, and the incorporation of a few Native Hawaiian values to provide a better cultural connection to their jobs.
More broadly, the employees began running with projects, solving problems, and generally performing better than ever. This led to significantly improved customer service, especially with incoming calls for tour reservations. Billings for group tours—many of which were older than 90 days—were brought up to date, thereby reducing accounts receivable.
Most importantly, a new relationship developed between the manager and her employees, in which two-way communication became commonplace. Her employees felt more satisfied about the work they were doing and more empowered to make improvements along the way. This transformation played a major role in the Palace’s stellar 2016 performance, which surpassed $1.5 million in ticket revenue—the highest ever.