Essential dialogue and dealing with difficult conversations are critical if you want your operation to remain focused, competitive and productive, and here’s why you can’t achieve success without them:
(As published by Infinity Gaming Magazine October 2020)
In part two of Essential Dialogue we concentrated on conversations with the marketing manager. In part three I would like us to take our essential dialogue exchange directly to the casino floor level and hold a manager to subordinate conversation with our distinguished colleague the slots shift manager. Some might say that deliberating the topic of essential dialogue using such a meagre subject as the slot shift manager is barely worth writing about at all, but I find that this kind of assumption can be very misleading because it’s the slots shift manager who spends a significant amount time interacting with customers, which makes this particular kind of dialogue even more relevant in the sense that if you find yourself without customers, you may have already failed at practicing essential dialogue and whoever hired you as a manager could possibly need replacing.
With casinos everywhere experiencing sharp drops in customer counts the need for engaging in essential dialogue and accountability conversations is greater than ever as casino operators toil to remain relevant in a highly competitive market. Subordinates require increased amounts of guidance and reassurance, meaning that slots manager’s everywhere will inevitably find themselves having these types of sometimes uncomfortable conversations on a much more frequent basis. Fortunately, true leaders know that it is essential to continue to empower, motivate and reassure their staff so that they continue to deliver the kind of consistent and engaging experiences that their customers demand regardless of the operating environment or complexity of current challenges. The bad news is that the road to success can be a bumpy ride, so it’s essential to counterbalance distractions, cut out the noise and remain laser sharp focused.
The price of inaction and avoiding essential dialogue can, and will result in possibly irreversible consequences so the following examples of essential dialogue could prove useful for stopping your slots revenues falling off a cliff and your slots shift manager running for the panic button:
COMMUNICATION – “All staff needed to attend the new mandatory AML training program and you’ve known about and been reminded of this for the past month. Not a single employee from slots turned up for the training! How can you explain this?” – When left unchecked this serious lack of communications and accountability between shift managers can carry with it severe consequences for the operator such as fines and even criminal charges. In this case emotions will be running high so before even starting to use essential dialogue in an attempt to change these behaviors, it’s crucial to make the shift managers feel safe enough to talk about what happened beforehand as they could easily resort to silence or violence and ruin any chances of reaching a lasting solution. The bottom line here is that a competent slots shift manager shouldn’t need to be reminded of the importance of communications and accountability as they know that they would letting themselves and the company down by playing a dangerous game of pass the blame. It’s imperative for slots manager to use essential dialogue correctly with the shift managers to ensure that communication is used effectively to change attitudes, increase productivity and ensure that there is never a gap between intent and behavior.
PRODUCTIVITY – “According to recent systems reports a growing quantity of slots have been rejecting bills after each drop which is having a negative effect on revenues. This fact was confirmed on in the daily shift report, but nothing has been done to solve the issue, why?” – Even the most casual slots player will get frustrated if the machine they want to play doesn’t accept bills. Most will move onto the next machine and think nothing of it, but many will take it as a sign that the entire slots department doesn’t care about them and that’s the kind of problem your competitors dream about! Lack of productivity can come from a lack of motivation or a lack of ability so it’s essential to understand which sources of influence are causing the slot techs to neglect their duty and the shift managers not to follow up before moving forward. To accomplish this, it’s essential to encourage the free flow of information. We all enter a conversation with our own views, theories and experiences but when the conversation is free flowing, we are exposed to more accurate and relevant information and are able to use essential dialogue to maintain productivity by making better informed decisions.
TRUST – “I requested the floor supervisors performance evaluation reports by 12pm today as I needed to review them before a 2pm meeting with the GM. You didn’t deliver and made no effort to contact me. How can I trust you going forward?” Broken trust will cause a fast decline within multiple areas of your operations including motivation, productivity and revenues. Broken trust can also encourage behaviors such as poisoning of the work culture, sabotage, controlling hierarchies, intense micromanagement and let’s not forget the exodus of your best staff. Therefore, you could say that trust needs to be taken seriously. Trust has a high cost because without it, people can easily lose purpose and sense of priority. Without these two key requirements for achieving extraordinary results, the chances of reaching even your worst case scenario projected results diminish significantly. Essential dialogue can be used to regain broken trust by not focusing on the person but by focusing around the issues that caused trust to be broken and once these issues have been identified you will be in a better position to establish mutual purpose, clarify expectations, and commit to a strategy for regaining trust and improving results.
ACCOUNTABILITY – “you were late for the fifth time this week and you co-worker missed her ride home. You didn’t call in and we had to pay for a taxi. How do you explain your lack of accountability?” A leader who fails to deal with accountability issues such as broken commitments, violated expectations and unacceptable behavior won’t be considered a leader for very long so it’s important to identify potential red flags early on before they effect performance, as the longer you wait to confront accountability issues, the greater a victim you become of your own silence. Before starting an accountability conversation, make sure you know the facts and understand the circumstances surrounding them. Once you’ve identified the gap in performance your next step is to make the other person feel safe, establish mutual respect, explain the gap and and use essential dialogue to motivate the other person to understand their error and work towards the design and implementation of an actionable plan for improvement.
SUCCESS – “To be successful we need to work as a team and hold each other accountable but judging by recent customer service scores and performance evaluations, success will remain an illusion. How will we ever achieve our goals if we set ourselves up to fail before we start?” – Success takes focus, coherence, communications, organization and yes, you guessed it, teamwork. What success doesn’t comprise of is broken commitments, multitaskers, the blame game, responsibility dodgers and violent dictators. The above example exposes multiple accountability issues from different levels of the organization that clearly need to be dealt with urgently. An effective slots shift manager would never let an issue as serious customer service get out of hand by monitoring reports and working with each member of staff on a one to one basis to ensure they have the correct motivation and abilities to do the job beyond expectations. In this situation it’s essential that the slots manager establish mutual purpose as without it, success will remain an illusion. It’s also important to motivate those involved to discuss the problem openly by sharing ideas in order to fully understand the circumstances surrounding the issues and introduce more effective change. Natural consequences should also be made clear such as: without excellent customer service revenues will decline.
CONCLUSION – The slots department needs to work together if success is to remain a consistent part of the casino operation, and by using essential dialogue it’s possible to improve relationships, increase potential and use different opinions to your advantage by making the best possible choices when the stakes are high and before your shift managers start running for the hills.