Home New Technology Integration: Conquering Interdepartmental Communication

New Technology Integration: Conquering Interdepartmental Communication

Last month, we discussed the possible pitfalls associated with deploying new technologies onto your casino floor. This month, we’re focusing on one of those main potential pitfalls—interdepartmental communication and ensuring everyone involved in the project and its success is well informed and comfortable with its implementation. We hope you’ll see that it is critical to minimize as many variables as possible that have the ability to destroy the excitement surrounding a new slot innovation before it has a chance to grow legs, intrigue players and, most importantly, increase revenues.

The miscues we examined last month all boil down to communication, or more accurately stated, a fundamental lack of communication and understanding between two departments. In most facilities, a typical scenario may play out like this:

The slot director drops in to see his marketing counterpart to verify that the promotions staff has been studying the detailed documentation for the upcoming install, and inquires about the product launch. Upon entering the office, the slot director is barraged with many questions regarding the product and its purpose, each of which was clearly included in the documentation.

This extended conversation sends up red flags that the promotions staff is not up to the job, because the questions, combined with marketing’s failure to dive into the project headfirst, indicate a complete lack of interest. The slot director is immediately upset that marketing wouldn’t take the time to read the documentation he spent three months producing.

He accuses the marketing director of running a lax department and threatens that if this promotion fails, it will be his fault. The marketing director bristles because he doesn’t need a 200-page document to run a marketing campaign, and slot boy should have just provided a brief overview e-mail. Besides, what does a guy who spends the majority of his work hours lost in facts and figures know about players? The slot director storms out of marketing without actually seeing what has been prepared for the event.

There are several major issues at play here, and the least of them is the failure of the promotion. The directors obviously have very different ways of looking at the situation, and each feels the other is wrong. Now, two of the most influential directors for the casino are at odds with each other, distrustful of each other’s methods and suspicious of each other’s intentions.

Effective communication between departments is essential to the smooth and profitable operation of a casino. No one person has a skill set varied enough to perform each and every job in this very complex business model. Each department is diverse and requires a unique skill and personality set to optimize its performance. Understanding your own department’s values and how they relate to the overall property is as important as any aspect of your job.

Your work principles determine your short- and long-term departmental priorities and are very important when it comes to standing up for the best solutions for your property. That said, you cannot presume the path you choose to solve a problem is the right path for others. Just because the marketing director chose to act differently than you expected, doesn’t mean he hasn’t grasped the concepts necessary to succeed. The takeaway of this scenario is that everyone is different. Some folks need to verify and validate data before starting tasks, and others work best on the fly building a plan as they go.

One of the most important factors in a successful product launch is strong interdepartmental relationships. It’s unfortunate that the casino industry doesn’t have a Dr. Neil Warren to study the characteristics of individuals in a workplace based on 29 dimensions of chemistry and compatibility to match us with our most-suited coworkers to create a harmonious like-minded duo ready to take on the world.

That said, there are psychometric tests available for little or no cost that can help us understand our own behavioral traits and the traits of those we communicate with on a daily basis. These tests can only help us better understand each other. Although there are many different tests available, our favorite is the DISC quadrant behavioral model.

This method was designed to examine the behavior of individuals in their environment or within a specific situation and provide indicators as to how they will react. The model measures styles and preferences of behavior and how they will likely modify in stressful situations. It assumes that characteristics of behavior can be gathered into four major “behavior styles,” and that individuals tend to exhibit specific characteristics common to that particular style.

Every personality has the characteristics of all four styles, and what differs from one to another is the extent of each. These areas are dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance. Each area has its own unique value, and understanding the differences between these traits and the blends between each makes it possible to better understand individuals with less conflict.

Just for fun, take the abbreviated DISC test at www.123test.com/disc-personality-test/ and compare your results to the following behavioral descriptions:

• Dominance: People who score high in the “D” category are very active in dealing with problems and challenges. High “D” people are described by others as demanding, forceful, strong willed, driving, determined, ambitious, aggressive, and pioneering. Low D scores describe those who are conservative, low key, cooperative, calculating, undemanding, cautious, agreeable, modest and peaceful.
• Influence: People with a high “I” influence others through talking and activity and tend to be emotional. They are described as convincing, magnetic, political, enthusiastic, persuasive, warm, trusting and optimistic. Those with low “I” scores are described as reflective, factual, calculating, skeptical, logical, suspicious, matter of fact and critical.
• Steadiness: People with high “S” scores want a steady pace, security and do not like sudden changes. High “S” individuals are calm, relaxed, patient, deliberate, stable, consistent and tend to be unemotional. A low “S” is indicative of those who like change and variety, and are described as restless, demonstrative, impatient, eager or even impulsive.
• Compliance: People with high “C” styles adhere to rules, regulations, and structure. They like to do quality work and do it right the first time. High “C” people are careful, cautious, exacting, neat, systematic, accurate and tactful. Those with low “C” scores challenge the rules and are described as self-willed, stubborn, opinionated and unconcerned with details.

By having a better perception of what an individual is motivated by, you’ll be able to spend more energy tailoring a communications approach that is more easily processed by others. In a typical casino, there are varying degrees of compatibility between departments, not just toward tasks but interdepartmental relationships as well.

After using the DISC psychometric tool at multiple casinos, we have come up with a non-scientific generalization about the difference between slot and marketing managers and directors:

Slot Managers and Directors
Slot management tends to be reactive by both nature and design. Their main priority is to keep the machines and floor operational and to provide the best product selection possible. A down machine represents lost revenue. They are detail oriented, systematic, apolitical and must adhere to numerous rules and regulations. They are also very active in dealing with problems and challenges related to the operation of their floor and others often see them as pushy and demanding. Because they are attuned to detail, they can fail to see the value of the “big picture” and are comfortable defining details and specifications.

Marketing Managers and Directors
In comparison, marketing management tends to be proactive, “big picture”-oriented individuals that are unconcerned with details that do not directly involve their department. Although this can appear to others as flighty and arrogant, marketing management limits their exposure because they need to market the property as a whole and any extraneous information tends to bog down the creative process. They are convincing, political, enthusiastic, persuasive and optimistic.

After studying these profiles it quickly becomes apparent the tools the slot director provided to marketing were exactly the opposite of what they require. If we want to ensure the success of the deployment, doesn’t it stand to reason that we must provide the correct information? If the slot director had provided marketing with an executive summary of the project that included the major features of the product, the portion of the player base it was designed for, and an offer to provide any additional information on request, they would have assisted the marketing department far more.

Until the day comes when we can jam a USB port into the marketing director’s head, or some other less invasive method is designed to communicate complex facts and ideas, face-to-face communication and meaningful understanding of unique personalities is essential to providing the information necessary to achieve the goals we all envision.

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