The Genie in the Room

Are you avoiding the "genie in the room?"

Dr. Jill Guindon-Nasir, Senior Corporate Director of Global Learning Solutions and Organizational Development at the Ritz Carlton Leadership Center, talks about how organizations often neglect "the genie in the room," a term she learned from the Wharton School of Business faculty during her studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

The topic refers to the fact that often times, organizations will hire consultants or try new trends, but they won't actually talk to their own people who are right there and who may have the answers, says Jill. She advises leaders to be approachable and to stay in close communication with their team members and colleagues; to listen and engage them in conversation about what's working, and what's not.

Learn why tapping into employees' knowledge and feedback can be your greatest source of strength for employee engagement and creativity.
So the genie in the room, I learned that in some of my doctoral studies at University of Pennsylvania, some of the Wharton faculty would talk about that. That a lot of people, they'll go outside, they will hire consultants, they will do different things, but they won't actually talk to their own people that are right there and that have the answers.

So a lot of innovation, or I even talk about different companies that have created some amazing things, they did that right there internally with their employees when they get together and told them that they were empowered to have the creativity.

So I think the genie in the room is just about getting in touch with your own people. It's about talking to them. It's about listening to them whether you like what they have to say or not. The employee engagement or satisfaction survey should not be the time that they are telling you everything that is wrong.

And if you're talking to people and constantly communicating with them, then you should know exactly what is going wrong. That should not be a time to say that, right? That should be a time where you are just evaluating what you already know.

So I think some of the greatest leaders that really get out there. Like I said, they're accessible. They're listening to their people. They are on the ground. You hear about these stories all the time. They will show up and they'll run the rides at an amusement park or they'll sit there and go on site and lift some of the boxes and do some of the things of the front line employees because they are staying in touch with what is really going on.

It's when you get out of touch is when I think that the issues really start to happen. You have to stay in touch with your people because they have the answers about what's going wrong. They just might not feel comfortable to actually tell you because you're not accessible and they don't feel it is an open door to tell you. So you want to find out what is really going wrong? What is happening?

Again, you don't want to hear those things. You might want to hear the negative things that are going on. So it's good to hear that because you see I have been in focus groups where people are talking about some of the things going wrong and then you'll ask them, "But what is going right?" Usually, that list is even bigger than the ones that are going wrong. It's just that those few things that are wrong they start to outshine it.

It's kind of like what you say a good experience people don't tell as many people, but a bad experience they tell even more. It is the same exact thing. Once you kind of take that head on, you look at it, and you say, "Okay, problem I am going to deal with you. We're going to talk this through," then it doesn't have as much power anymore.

You take that power away from that problem because you've actually addressed it instead of letting the rumor mill and everybody else start to grow it into something that it is not. That is why it is important to kind of hit it head on.

Dr. Jill Guindon-Nasir

Dr. Jill Guindon-Nasir has a passion for sharing best practices, implementing lessons learned and achieving sustainable results. She has over 20 years in business and has served at The Ritz-Carlton for almost 15 years. Her past positions...

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