Richard Millard’s employees wear dog tags. Those tags are inscribed with the words, “I am what I do,” and they are a symbol of
commitment to what makes Tecton Hospitality different. That commitment is also reflected in the hotel management company’s RedBook,
which helps guide the decisions of Tecton’s 1,400 employees. As chairman and CEO of the $90 million company, Millard is a model for
this culture, living the RedBook and participating in activities such as trading jobs for a day to get a better sense of the work his employees
do. Millard says these things help align all employees in the same direction, understand the problems others might face on the job and
take a greater responsibility for their work. Smart Business spoke with Millard about why four heads are better than one and why if you
can’t delegate, you’ve got the wrong employees.
Include everyone in your decision-making. If
you make decisions inclusively, everybody supports the decision, and you get
more of a buy-in when people feel that
they did participate. You make a better
decision that way. Two, three or four
heads are better than one in any decision
that you make.
If you’re ego-driven, it’s difficult to
make decisions inclusively. Sometimes
on the surface, things look much simpler
than they are, but the people who are
closest to the work know the answers.
Once people have been with you, they
know they can participate, but it takes
awhile. If they feel like they have a part
in the decision, they want it to be successful and they’re not standing on the
sidelines being a spectator.
Be yourself. You are who you are, and
don’t try and be somebody that you’re
not. If that’s a model that people like and
it lives up to what all of them say they
are, people respect you.
They may not necessarily love you for
it, but they respect you for it. You’re
never going to be perfect, and you’re not
going to do everything the way you say it
is, but you try to. But you don’t fake it.
Walk the talk. If leaders don’t walk the talk,
employees don’t believe what they say.
It’s very important to lead by example.
Do what you say you’re going to do.
Talk is cheap, and execution is everything in life. If you tell anybody you’re
going to do something, you better do it.
Never ask somebody to do anything that
you wouldn’t do yourself.
In the olden days, the general used to
lead his people into battle because he
led by example. If he wasn’t prepared to
die, why should they be?
Trust your employees. Delegating has to do
with having faith in hiring the right people who sometimes are actually smarter
than you are. You have to have enough
self-confidence to do that.
It has to do with trust and faith and letting people do things. Give people a job,
make sure they’re qualified to do it, have
some checks and balances, and let them
do it. If you don’t think somebody is
capable of making a decision, you’ve got
the wrong person doing the job. And if
you find yourself making the decisions
for other people all the time, then you
have the wrong person.
Hire the right person with the right qualifications, and let them do their job. If
they can’t do it, get somebody else. Don’t
keep making their decisions for them.
The way you trust people is through
their track record and your experience
with them. You trust somebody until
they lie to you or until they give you a
piece of information that makes you
look silly. Then your trust is not quite as
great as it was before.
Help people learn from their mistakes. Allow
people to be wrong, including yourself.
Show me somebody who never makes a
mistake and I’ll show you somebody
who never does anything. Let people
know that everybody makes mistakes,
it’s OK to make a mistake, and don’t beat
somebody up for making a mistake, as
long as they’re honest about it.
Realize that your way is not the only
way, and let employees do it their way.
Allow people to use their brain or else they get bored. Let it be their idea once
in awhile because there’s a reward in
that. When somebody’s executing and
it’s their idea, it has a much better
chance at success because it’s their deal,
they own it.
Obviously, you train employees to do
certain tasks, but after that, let people
make some decisions and some mistakes once in awhile.
Learn to accept criticism. You have to have
people who have the guts and the intestinal fortitude and the comfort level with
you to be able to tell you when you’re
not doing things right. It’s hard for people to do because they’re afraid. They
want to make you happy, but they have
to have the guts to say, ‘You’re not listening to us,’ or, ‘You’re wrong.’
Listen. I don’t think if someone comes
along and tells you that you’re doing
something wrong that you pretend
you’re listening to them. You either care
about something they say or you don’t.
When someone that work with you
points out something they think is
wrong, and they have pretty good reasons for it, you listen and think.
Now they may come along and tell you
they think it’s wrong, and when you
think about it, you still think it’s right.
But you listen and think about what they
say, and don’t try and figure out why
they’re doing it. Just say, ‘I’m going to
take it at face value; maybe I should
think this out again.’
Create an environment where people
can say what they think and where they
feel that their experience, comments,
thoughts and ideas are taken seriously,
and that they will not be punished for
saying what they think. Once you’ve
been in business long enough, people
around you know it’s like that, so when
someone new comes along, they feel it
relatively quickly, that you can say what
HOW TO REACH: Tecton Hospitality, (305) 577-8484 or