The Ritz Puts on Stand-Up Meetings

The Ritz-Carlton chain is the only hotel company to receive the coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Here's a look at methods they use to guide their success.

M.I.N.M.: The Daily Lineup
Who: Leonardo Inghilleri, Senior VP, HR, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.
Email: leonardo.inghilleri@ritzcarlton.com
URL: www.ritzcarlton.com
Players: 75 to 80 members of the corporate team
Frequency: Every day at 9 a.m.
Purpose: "To remind us of why we came to work that day."
Why I Never Miss It: "Those of us at corporate headquarters aren't above the law. It establishes an emotional tie with the rest of the company."

Nobody understands perfection like the Ritz-Carlton. The Atlanta-based chain is the only hotel company to receive the coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Every one of its nearly 16,000 employees undergoes 120 hours of rigorous customer-service training. Maintaining such standards at 34 hotels around the world is a major challenge, says Leonardo Inghilleri. "We tell our employees to move heaven and earth to satisfy a customer," he says. "We have to equip them to do that - every day."

That's where the Ritz's daily lineup comes in. Every morning at precisely 9 a.m., about 80 of the company's top executives gather for a 10-minute stand-up meeting in the hallway outside the office of President and COO Horst Schulze. Just as important, within 24 hours, at every hotel from Boston to Bali, the rest of the company's employees get the same concentrated dose of the Ritz credo at their daily shift meetings.

Guiding Principle

Fast focus. "The meeting is part training, part operations, part philosophy - all conducted with drill-like efficiency. We work in a 7-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day business, and our customers are diverse. Employees need to know how to think on their feet to solve a problem."

Best Practice

One meeting, one issue. "We prepare a monthly calendar of lineup topics - ranging from the opening of a new hotel in Dubai to meeting-planner programs - and email them weekly to each hotel. For one critical moment every day, the entire organization is aligned behind the same issue."

Dress Code

Formal. "One of our service basics is the importance of immaculate attire."

Talking Stick

"The lineup is run by a volunteer facilitator. The meeting is split into three parts. First, we introduce the topic of the week. Second, we revisit one of our 'customer-service basics.' Finally, we run through operational issues that are specific to each department: anything from the specials on the menu to an upcoming meeting with an investor. Ten minutes after the meeting begins, everyone is back at work."

Cathy Olofson cathyo@channel1.com is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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