Category Archives: Casino Host Culture

War Stories: Cautionary Tales from ‘The Trenches’

Many years ago, I had primary responsibility for a big casino promotion. My bosses were at the big gaming show in Vegas (before it was called G2E; it was a loooong time ago) and I was launching a big 6-week extravaganza without them for the very first time. We had floor sweeps to hand out scratch-off tickets, offering a variety of prizes for matching symbols. Every ticket had the potential to be a winner, but the odds suggested we’d have only one or two “big” winners (of $1000, if I recall correctly) for the entire 6 weeks.   Non-winning tickets could be dropped into a big drawing drum for the grand finale: a pickup truck to be given away on the last night of the promotion. When the second and third “big” prize winners showed up within hours of the first floor sweep, I knew we had a problem. Someone had figured out how to cheat the scratch-off…and I was sure of it when the fourth winner of the night was the same person who had turned in the first winning ticket.

The GM and I wrote an announcement that I would read over the PA to suspend the scratch-off portion of the promotion, and we quickly printed out truck giveaway entries to be handed out until we could sort out the issue with the game tickets. It was with trepidation that I began reading our announcement, but security and a handful of sympathetic guests (regulars, but the good kind) were nearby to offer moral support. Only twice since have I been in front of a crowd so hostile. As I clicked off the microphone and took a step to leave, a handful of them surged toward me, blocking my exit route to complain about the provision that we would not accept any more “winning” tickets. A few of these had multiple tickets in hand, suggesting that they had picked up tickets others had left behind…it was a mess.

From this promotional War Story, I learned many things.

  • Have scratch tickets printed by someone who has lots of experience with them so it’s impossible for players to cheat.
  • Involve the Security Manager and Compliance department when doing promotional planning to help ferret out vulnerabilities in the conceptual stages.
  • Don’t be afraid to do what’s right for the honest guests, even in the face of some who are angry that they can’t take advantage of a vulnerability they found.
  • The NGCB had our back. Our rules were clear and enforceable, and they stayed in the loop with us as we navigated those uncharted (for us) waters.
  • The loudest voices you hear aren’t always the ones you should pay the most attention to. My GM was cool, calm, and collected as we worked through our short-term plan. Loud, angry voices had no place in that discussion, though we obviously thought through the effect we’d have on our guests.

Everyone who has worked with the public at all probably has some pretty good stories to tell; it’s likely they’ve got some that will curl your hair. Thinking about them for this post actually had me chuckling earlier:

  • The club rep who figured out how to cash out points belonging to inactive guests, but didn’t notice the transactions on a detail report the same rep ran each night for the manager’s review.
  • The angry patron who grabbed a supervisor’s tie to pull him over the counter and almost found himself prone when the (former military) associate instinctively drew back a fist. Fortunately, no one was harmed during this little episode.
  • The promotional attendant who set up a promotion to run with pre-determined winners…and didn’t see any problem with that.
  • The guest who called the company headquarters to complain that he’d been told his patronage wasn’t important…since the casino wouldn’t increase his offers just because he thought they weren’t sufficient.
  • The high roller who hung up on his host because the host uttered the word, “No” during a brief phone call. (The host called right back and said “It seems we were disconnected before I had a chance to tell you what I CAN do.” The guest was all ears.)
  • The small gang who gathered at the promotions desk to write down the winner’s names at nearly every drawing because they were convinced the giveaway was rigged against them.

Here’s the best part about these War Stories: every single one of them teaches us something. The club rep learned that there are checks and balances to prevent theft and that a few hundred bucks was all it took to lose a promising career in gaming. The patron learned that he would be asked to leave private property after assaulting an associate, with a minimum 12-month exclusion to boot. All of us who have worked with casino promotions have learned that people feel entitled to win and will always suggest that someone is cheating them if they don’t. The high roller learned that sometimes it’s better to be quiet and listen to the rest of the story before shutting someone down (particularly if it’s someone who can help you). The gang learned more than they ever cared to know about how electronic drawings work, as the executive responsible for promotions gathered them close and did a mini-workshop on the software’s capabilities.

So, tell us in the comments below: what are your favorite War Stories, and what did you learn from them? Any lesson is a good one, though the ones learned “the hard way” tend to stick with us. Those where we learn what NOT to do are even better, because we may not have to live through the awkwardness and difficulties ourselves (or only tangentially).

Share with us the stories that came to mind as you read some of mine. We can’t wait to learn from your experiences!

7 Habits That Help Hosts Succeed

In a world of increasing digital contact and fewer human interactions, Player Development still has a focus on personalized contact, whether by phone, email, snail mail or in person.There are techniques that successful Casino hosts employ to build relationships with valuable players and secure their loyalty.

These the 7 Habits that we’ve observed in successful casino hosts:

  1. Successful hosts are detail-oriented.  When you’re responsible for hundreds of valuable casino patrons (and their spouses, at least by proxy), it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Remembering a guest’s children’s and grandchildren’s names is just the beginning. Does she smoke cigarettes? Which brand? What kind of room does he prefer, and does he have a favorite in your hotel? Will he want to go to the steakhouse right after he checks in, or will you need to go and pull him off the tables so he won’t lose his reservation? This kind of attention to the details about his or her players allows a casino host to provide personalized service that hardly exists anywhere these days. It sets them apart.
  2. Understanding profitability is key.  The details a good host remembers about his players aren’t limited to preferences and habits. He needs to understand the profitability profile of each player and his associates in order to proactively motivate them to make visits to the property without overspending the casino’s assets. Here’s a good rule of thumb for tough comp decisions: If you wouldn’t foot the bill yourself, why would you expect the casino to do so? Look at play patterns, redemption patterns, and associated play in aggregate before making a comp decision. It is entirely possible to motivate a player without spending money on supplemental offers.
  3. Good hosts don’t let good players languish. Does Susie usually make at least one trip per week? Have you seen her lately? If not, you should give her a call. Did you hear that Ron was upset about not getting tickets to last weekend’s Beatles tribute show? You should look into what happened and check in with him. While it’s sometimes appropriate to allow an angry guest some time to cool off before making contact, it’s better to reach out soon and re-establish communications before they try a competitor and decide they’re treated better someplace else.
  4. Information is king. Sharing it is key. Whether overheard on the gaming floor or learned in a training session, like any good employee, a good casino host will look for ways to incorporate things they learn into doing a better job taking care of their players. This includes learning what not to do! A great PD team leader will encourage hosts to share what they’ve learned, particularly about promising players or competitor activities, so they can work together to be proactive against any threats or looming disappointments which might be mitigated.
  5. Balance the wants of the guest with the needs of the business.  It’s often a precarious position to be in: your players want what they want and your company says it’s a “no go.” There are a myriad of ways to make everyone happy, and a good host will navigate through the possibilities until finding just the right one. From making an alternative offer, meeting the player halfway, presenting a case to the leadership in advocacy for the guest, or coming up with a brilliant out-of-the-box idea, hosts whose heads AND hearts are in the game will find a solution that keeps the players and the bosses happy.
  6. Remember to take “me” time…but not too much!  While it’s true that working in a 24-hour business with some of its most demanding patrons is almost assuredly a recipe for burnout, most of the PD pros we’ve met love their jobs so much they don’t ever want to do anything else for a living. In order to keep themselves on an even keel, dedicated casino hosts have to take a breather now and then to keep from going into overload. Leaving their players in the hands of their co-workers may be nerve-wracking, but the time away from the constant demands of  the job is essential to long-term well-being and success. Aside from weeks-long vacations, there are ways to regroup and refresh during the work week as well. Enjoy a hobby, take a walk around the neighborhood, meditate, go to the gym, read an engaging novel. Finding a way to disconnect from the world for a few short hours and recharge one’s batteries can make all the difference.
  7. When all else fails, host pros ask for help. It’s not easy to admit it when we need assistance. Whether it’s with a computer program, finding time to accomplish everything on the day’s to-do list, or handling a sticky guest situation, there’s nothing like another perspective to help a host move past a roadblock and keep things moving. There’s no reason a host who needs a hand shouldn’t ask for the assist. Studies have shown that people who do favors for others tend to regard the recipients in a more favorable light, because who wants to help out someone who isn’t deserving? This happy side effect can help to bring a host team closer together while solving the issue at hand. Nice, huh!?

There are a lot of moving parts in a casino host’s set of responsibilities. These 7 attributes can indeed make a good casino host better. Think about it: If you’re refreshed and fulfilled, have the tools you need to execute what’s best for both the guest and the business, and you proactively seek solutions to the day-to-day demands of your players, you can’t lose.

This article is brought to you from casinoplayerdevelopment.wordpress.com, sharing Helpful Ideas on Player Development.

How do you keep your team rolling?

I swept my whole house today. You’re probably wondering why I started with that fascinating factoid, right? While I was moving the dust mop through my kid’s rooms, I noticed that the stuff I was sweeping up was reacting differently to the mop’s motions based on its individual nature.

There was a yellow bead that kept rolling right past the rest of the stuff I’d swept up, and there was a tiny metal bead (like a BB) that rolled pretty well but mostly stayed with the pile. There were some dust bunnies under my 16-year-old’s bed, and they stuck to the dust mop. The leaves under my 9-year-old boy’s bed were stubborn and didn’t want to be swept up, so I had to get the bristly broom for those.

Your player development team is a lot like the stuff I swept up today. How? Each individual on your team responds differently to the same stimulus. The yellow bead is the host who takes your advice and direction and runs with it, not looking back to see where the rest of the team is. The BB was your “steady Eddie” host, who stays with the pack and keeps moving at a steady pace.The dust bunnies are like the hosts who won’t make a move without a push. The leaves are the hosts who keep doing what they’re going to do regardless of your attempts to motivate them, at least until you force the issue.

In my experience, player development pros get better when they have to step outside their comfort zones, and their leaders sometimes have to start sweeping to get things moving. The dust bunnies would still be under my daughter’s bed if I hadn’t swept. The yellow bead would probably have ended up in a different place on the floor, and the BB would be hanging out with the leaves. They needed motivation to move; to roll.

Each of the members of your host team needs motivation too. Most likely, it will take something tailored to each individual to get maximum results.

The host who’s rolling on without regard to the rest of the team may be ready to take on the challenge of being a mentor for another employee. The one who is rolling along but not excelling may benefit from some encouragement to implement his ideas. The ones who want to hang back and need a push might do more if they know you’re watching and keeping track of their accomplishments. The stubborn ones could get better with training, so they should be paired up with a “rolling” host.

Take the time to evaluate your team individually, assess the tools you have available to get them moving, then choose the right combination of tools and methods to start things rolling. Then, repeat as necessary. Just like I’ll have to do with the clean(er) floors in my kids’ rooms.

How does a casino host find good players?

When I started my gaming career, I was first hired as a casino host. In those days, we mostly walked around the gaming floor looking for quality players we could sign up for the players club and chatted up the guests in the high limit areas. Later, when we began mining the database to identify better players and assign them to the hosts, the Player Development function turned into more of a phone-based activity. The evolution of the Player Development program is still going strong, and I believe we need to land somewhere in the middle of these two activity types in order to be most effective.

Today, many casino hosts have lists provided to them by the database team, so they work their way through phone calls and mailing lists, often never meeting their players in person until they’ve communicated a handful of times. Some hosts have worked in PD for a number of years and have developed their own “book of business” – hard-won high-level players who call when they want to gamble. A handful of these hosts are independent operators, who can send their players to any number of casinos instead of representing just one property. It is my belief that any good casino host will understand (or seek to learn) how to “cut in” to a good player, establish a rapport, and move away from dependency on the database team to build his or her book of business.

So, how does that work? How will I find these mythical “good players”? How will I know whether they’re really worth my time? I have provided a few of the best places to look below.

  1. Go to the busiest slots areas on the gaming floor and talk with the players there.  See who has your property’s highest players club tier, watch the action as you visit, take some names and look those folks up to see how consistently they play well.
  2. Talk to the slot attendants and see who they recommend you meet.  They’re not always right, but they know who sits at a machine feeding it all day and they can tell you who you missed.
  3. Make friends with table games shift/floor supervisors.  They can quickly tell you who bought in for big money and where those players are now if they’re still in house.  Want to know who blew a lot of cash in a hurry?  Because these important and busy employees have to do the paperwork related to the biggest losers, they should be able to at least give you a name.
  4. Ask your guests for leads.  Birds of a feather do flock together, so talk to your best players and give them incentives to invite their gambling friends to your property.  Buying a round of buffets for 4 doesn’t cost very much and it makes your current player look important to their friends.  If the play is good enough, make it the steakhouse instead…and everybody shines.
  5. Learn what affinity groups are near your property and find ways to introduce yourself.  Do you host mostly table games players?  Hit the links and distribute your business cards, because many golfers also love to play casino table games.  Do you mostly handle slot players?  Find the local bingo parlor and grab a dauber, because you can learn which bingo enthusiasts go to what property while you play.  Do you have lots of guests from one particular ethnic group?  Do some research and find the community gathering place for that nationality, then offer to speak or distribute casino merchandise at a get-together.

Just like any other sales function, networking is essential to the casino hosts’ ability to build a stronger list of players and/or a book of business.  Finding players with high potential can be a challenge, but developing this skill will make you a more valuable employee and help you achieve your theoretical targets.

Do you have successful tactics to add?  Please feel free to comment!

Player Development isn’t a Department. It’s a Mindset.

Does everyone at your property sell the gaming experience to your guests? Just as importantly, does everyone at your property understand that the main function of a Player Development department is to sell the gaming experience to your most worthy guests?

It still amazes me how many people work in gaming without a clear understanding of the role Player Development professionals play in the operation. When given the opportunity to do the job they were given, Casino Hosts can drive revenue. They build relationships with patrons. They make it easier for a guest to choose YOUR property over going to visit a competitor. They provide concierge-like service to players who have a real impact on the bottom line, especially when those patrons don’t come in as often or play as much as they once did.

How is Player Development a mindset? It extends to every casino employee who has direct guest contact as well as those whose work affects the guests. (So, basically everybody.) If a dishwasher doesn’t do his job properly, one of your pickiest profitable players might receive a drink in a dirty glass. If a slot attendant assists a guest without introducing himself, he doesn’t exactly make a good impression even if the service was timely. When maintenance isn’t keeping up with broken fixtures in your restrooms, your guests notice. Honestly, we don’t want ANY casino guest to experience these things. This means that every employee needs to understand the basic principles of Player Development in order to keep the guests raving about your property.

These principles include using a guest’s name, responding quickly and professionally to guest requests, and anticipating guests’ needs (and meeting them). These are all things that PD pros do every day. Happily, they are things every casino employee can do, too! These simple measures help to solidify the loyalty of the guests who frequent your property, and they give new or undecided guests a reason to come back.

Even if front-line employees don’t fully understand the Player Development function, they can learn to do the things inherent in building player relationships to make your property more profitable. By keeping your guests top of mind, all your associates can facilitate keeping your property top of mind with those guests. In general, building relationships with patrons who help to keep your doors open is a function of player development that applies to every guest and every employee with whom they come into contact, either directly or indirectly. Helping your associates understand this is the first step in creating a PD mindset that will differentiate your customer service from that of your competitors.  And that, folks, is a good mindset to have throughout your operation.

6 Things to Look for in a Casino Host New Hire

The truth is, it’s not an easy thing to quantify what you are looking for in a Casino Host, particularly if the candidate in question has never been a host before.  Read this summary, to see if you agree, and then and click to download the interview questions.

A People Person

When you interview any host candidate, the thing you are looking for is a natural tendency to be a “people person.”

Ask questions about specific customers the candidate remembers and why.  This sort of question works whether you are interviewing someone who has been a host before or not, even if the background of your candidate doesn’t include customer service.  Recent college graduates should have some sort of work experience (summer jobs, internships) where they had to provide a product or service to someone.  That is what you need to tap into to determine whether they are truly attuned to people as individuals.  If they are not, keep looking!

A Positive Attitude

Taking any new job can make someone anxious.  Taking a new job where one is responsible for the needs and wants of a casino’s very best players is daunting even on a good day.  An angry high roller is of critical importance and a host using a negative approach is likely to fuel the fire; then nobody wins. Devise some interview questions specifically geared to identify whether the prospective host is one who sees things in a positive light most of the time.  Ask about a difficult situation with a co-worker or customer and how it was resolved.  Whether the candidate solved the problem on his or her own or if it needed to be escalated, how he or she tells the story will give you some insights into a “glass half-full” mentality (or not).  If the glass isn’t at least half full, this candidate isn’t the one you want.

A Willingness to Learn

This attribute extends beyond the ability to learn how your property expects hosts to handle the company’s assets.  Willingness to learn includes gleaning and utilizing information about individual players and their preferences, how to handle conflict on behalf of a guest, navigating computer systems and how they are integrated, plus a myriad of other intricate details necessary to manage such a dynamic marketing role.  Ask about subjects the candidate enjoyed in school and why; inquire as to training programs the individual has experienced and what he took away from them.  Also, assess computer literacy during the interview; a host in this day and age who isn’t comfortable tackling a new interface is assuredly going to be at a disadvantage.

A Go-Getter

Some of the most charismatic hosts have a fatal flaw: they require external motivation.  These hosts are great with guests, they can talk with people from all walks of life, and they are fierce advocates for their players when the need arises.  All great attributes for a host, right?  Right!

Interestingly, not all hosts are great at tracking and reporting on their own activity, providing justification for questionable comp decisions, following up on guest phone calls or other correspondence, or completing guest-related tasks such as reservations and confirmation contacts.  It only gets done on deadline through much pulling of hair and rending of garments…and that’s due to you hassling them repeatedly to get it done on time.

You want someone who can engage and follow through.  Ask about how the interviewee handles follow-ups, requesting long-term assignment examples for recent grads and specific work examples from non-host candidates.   An experienced host should be able to give you some idea how many room nights or tournament seats he is able to fill in a telemarketing session.

A Sense for Confidentiality

Some of the best hosts I know have a different critical weakness: they share too much.  Whether it’s personal information about themselves or dissatisfaction with something in their professional life, a host who burdens a guest with unnecessary information is not one you want.  Just as one shouldn’t tell a guest “that’s our policy,” one should also never say, “I can’t believe they won’t let me give you…”

To screen for this, ask the candidate about a time she experienced a disappointment due to a policy or guideline in her past and how she handled it.  Another, less subtle, way to find out about the candidate’s tendency is to ask about a situation where rumors and over-sharing had an effect on her  customer service or job performance.

A Passion for Life

Most importantly, a good casino host is likely to become a person for whom Player Development will become a way of life.

To find that attribute in a candidate, and determine whether or not the passion in his life might grow into a love of Player Development and casino marketing, ask the tired old question about what he dis/liked about a past job or activity, but add a twist.  Ask what she thinks would have made her like it more.  Ask her what she would’ve changed if she were in charge.  Find out why the role was or wasn’t a good fit and why.

Ask questions about what the candidate does when he or she isn’t working, too. You cannot become overly personal here, but look for the thing that makes the candidate’s eyes light up.  If it’s something related to being a good casino host, then you’ve got a good one.  If you can’t find the thing that makes his eyes light up, maybe you want to keep interviewing.

And click to download the interview questions.  You can download them in MSWord and change them to meet your needs.

Are you reading this because you are applying to be a Casino Host? Then click here for more helpful information on how to Become a Host

 

Finding Balance in Player Development

As many readers of this blog already know, it is the job of a casino host to produce return trips from a property’s best players.  That means they are always in contact with guests, building and enhancing relationships with their players both “old” and new.  The key to doing it right means ensuring the host is in contact with a variety of players, many of whom are at different places along the bell curve of their player cycle.

What do I mean?  Well, think about a cross-section of a casino’s database.  There are guests who have just discovered your property, or maybe they just signed up for a card even though this is their 4th visit.  Either way, these are your new players in terms of marketing.  Then you have the “regulars.”  These people play within a predictable pattern, and are likely to be in one of the top tiers of your players club.  You know them and they know you.  Surely you have decliners, who might fall between the cracks in your player retention programs.  If direct mail doesn’t move them, a host call might, but if no one realizes they’re missing, they might get that call too late; after they’ve found an alternative in one of your competitors.   Finally, there are the ones who are “lost.”  They haven’t been in for a while due to reasons you may or may not know.  Obviously there are players like these at all levels, but your hosts really need to be aware of those who are among your best.

Since it’s easiest to talk with people you know, many hosts tend to communicate over and over with the same core group of guests.  I often refer to them as “the usual suspects.”  They are generally good players who become the ones you look for in a roomful of players at an event or show or tournament.  These players absolutely deserve the attention, but focusing too much time on these players means that the host doesn’t manage her time properly and other guests go unnoticed or un-contacted.  Additionally, contacting them first every time there is a value-added opportunity for them means the profit margin on the guest (or couple) shrinks with every offer they accept.  You run the risk of unprofitability once spending on these players exceeds your target reinvestment percentage.

It’s better to spread that spend around.  Make sure your department’s overarching goals include specific activities targeting players in all stages of their cycle of worth to your property.  Identify a player profile of those you stand to lose to a competitor (using drive time, ZIP codes, frequency, and other metrics to see what those players “look like.”)  Determine how you’re going to segment new players and build goals for getting enough of them to return and become loyal (and profitable!)  Teams of generalists should have goals targeting reactivation and acquisition as well as retention, and they should include a little reach so they don’t fall by the wayside throughout the goal period…your property will lose good players along the way if the hosts aren’t working them.

120x110_tree_onlyTechnology can help you identify, segment, and track contacts with any player according to criteria you set.  Test, survey, adjust goals, monitor progress and measure results as often as possible to ensure your plans are working as expected.  Establish goals which require your team to shift priorities from only touching retention.  Talk with your hosts and understand the challenges they face.  Keep acquisition and (preemptive) reactivation top of mind with the team so they don’t lose sight of your best players in all areas of the cycle.  Keep everyone up-to-date with regular periodic reviews and updates of progress and pace to goal.  That way, every member of your Player Development team is on track, on pace and ready to change course if needed to reach the finish together.

What Kind of Culture is Best for Casino Hosts?

It takes a special kind of “people person” to be a good Casino Host.  The backgrounds of today’s hosts are quite varied, but the thing they all have in common is that they are delighted to be in the company of others.  A host has the ability to make each of his players feel as though they are the most important person in the world.  Hosts can make “no” sound like “I’d really like to…”  And they need a particular kind of environment in order to thrive and do their best work.

Like employees in any sort of job, hosts expect to be compensated for the work they do.  Hosts should be paid a salary commensurate with carrying a company phone that is likely to ring at all hours of the day and night.  Casino hosts have to cater to some very demanding guests, but because the guests are worth it, most hosts pride themselves on satisfying those “difficult” players.  But again, just like any other employee, hosts require more than just a paycheck in order to do the job to the best of their ability.

Think about the primary tool in a Casino Host’s toolkit: the relationship.  It is more powerful than a comp, brings players to the casino more reliably than the direct mail program, and trumps new or updated competitors in the long run as long as it’s been properly built.  Interestingly, a strong relationship with a team leader should be part of a host’s compensation.

The relationship a Casino Host has with his or her team leader will, in many cases, directly affect the host’s level of engagement with his or her assigned players.  In a recent blog post on Harvard Business Review, the author suggests that engaged employees feel “loved,” and that the more “love” an employee feels drives a higher level of engagement in the job.  The post clarifies that the love in question is “companionate love,” derived from a feeling of connection and warmth in the employer/employee relationship.

“You mean we have to hold hands and sing Kum By Yah in a circle at our host meetings?”  As entertaining as that might be to watch (contact me before you do this; I want to have you record it and send me the video file!), what I am proposing goes deeper.  I am suggesting that team leaders invest some emotional capital in the hosts to help them flourish.

Any good Player Development professional will confirm that the relationships hosts (or any casino associate, for that matter) build with the property’s players build loyalty and help a casino hold on to their share of the gamer’s wallet.  Strong host/player relationships can prevent a player from defecting to a competitor over a disappointment or other negative experience.  Doesn’t it stand to reason then, that the relationship between an employee and his or her team leader would have a commensurate effect on the employee’s performance and direct engagement with the job?

Here are some ways to build that companionate love without crossing the necessary boundaries of a workplace relationship.  Spend some time with the members of your team during the workday.  Learn about them: family ties, personal motivators, challenges and frustrations, hobbies and interests, background experience, and growth aspirations.  Share some of your own workplace experiences with the members of your team so they see you more as a fallible person instead of just as a “boss.”   Ask them for feedback on your leadership style.  Demonstrate their importance to the property’s success and implement their ideas whenever you can.  Lavishly praise their accomplishments and provide candid and fair assessments of their performance when improvement is needed.  Observe their performance first hand and discuss your observations.  Talk WITH them and not just TO them, just like you should with your guests.  Generate a dialogue.  Build strong working relationships to ensure they each feel a connection with you.

Not the warm and fuzzy type?  Don’t fake it.  They’ll know.  Just be genuine.  Step outside your comfort zone for them.  Make the effort.  It will make a difference.

How will you know it’s working?  When the members of your team feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns and speak freely, you’ve arrived.  If someone isn’t doing the best job possible, and you approach them to discuss it, defensiveness melts away during the conversation.  If it’s real, you’ll both know.  And your team will thrive.

By all means, share your own experiences with us.  Tell us what you’ve done that worked or what you’ll do to build that kind of relationship with your team.