Practical Wisdoms

“It doesn’t matter what you say you believe—it only matters what you do.” ―Robert Fulghum, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

Every organization and industry has guidelines it must abide by to get the best results for its particular interest. Sports have governing bodies, physicians have peer reviews and private industries use best practices as an alternative to mandatory legislated standards. While casinos are bound by the rules and regulations established and monitored by the different regulatory bodies that oversee their jurisdictional boundaries, we give little credence to the concept of best practices as an industry. Employing Robert Fulghum’s approach in his book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” we will highlight a series of best practices that can help casino floors operate more effectively in the long term.

1. Be open to wonder: Keep an open mind toward technology. Being a successful slot director in this day and age requires equal parts technological enthusiast and modernization cheerleader. The tools to help us attract the next generation of casino patrons are being developed today more quickly and less expensively than ever before. But, to use them effectively, we must convince those around us that innovation is the key to expanding our revenue stream. To effectively advocate for anything, you must be more than merely a supporter—you must be a champion for that product or service.

2. Don’t be a dinosaur: Remember that extinction is a direct consequence of evolutionary failure. If you want to avoid becoming an artifact of the past, your facility must remain relevant in the eyes of your clientele and to those you seek as future patrons.

3. Be willing to try new things: If you truly want to be innovative in your business, you need to welcome emerging technology. Seriously consider allowing your facility to become a beta site for both major manufacturers and start-up businesses alike. While the headaches of product development are real and can result in a substantial impact on your floor, they are more than offset by the ability to influence the design of a product to suit your needs. Moreover, there is often a substantial cost reduction for those properties willing to host a new product, and you become recognized by both manufacturing leadership and your peers as an innovator.

4. People matter: An important distinction between simply being a manager and becoming a true leader in your facility is the level of knowledge you exhibit related to your employees. While a database exists to help you “remember” your clientele’s birthdays and anniversaries, how well do you know those same events as they relate to your staff? Sadly, even though you spend as much—if not more—time with them than your own family, chances are you don’t know them anywhere near as well as you should. Set aside remembering birthdays or anniversaries for a moment; do you even know their spouse’s name or the names of their children? Start simply; remember those people and the occasions that are special to them. Even the most basic effort on your part will make them feel like they truly matter and reflect positively in their working relationships with fellow staff and clientele.

5. Be respectful to others: Although the concept of respect in the workplace is trumpeted in businesses all over the country on a daily basis, the reality is far different in the facilities. Be respectful of other people’s ideas, beliefs and limitations. Be consistent; if you discipline a member of your staff for breaching a policy, you need to maintain the same standard for all others who fail to adhere to that policy in the future. Even though you may have formed valid reasons for handling the situation differently, your staff will only observe the difference in behavior and chalk it up as favoritism.

6. Speak clearly, listen actively: The fast-paced and often chaotic nature of our business requires managers and directors to be clear and concise in verbal and written communications. Avoid buzzwords and phrases that sound intelligent but mean different things to different people. To communicate effectively, co-workers, executives and regulators must speak simply, listen diligently and provide examples that clarify intent. Don’t assume that because you detailed your plan, others will automatically understand its merits or consequences. Compose your communications at a seventh-grade reading level to ensure it has the best potential to reach the widest audience. Do not work in a vacuum; update your team often to allow continuity of the project in the event you are removed from the situation.

7. Share your knowledge: You undoubtedly realize your knowledge and experience enabled you to reach the station you possess today, but you may not realize that sharing that same information will allow you to reach the next level. We all know smart people in our industry who hoard their knowledge and dole it out only when it suits their needs. While these individuals are generally regarded as “experts in their field,” many are stuck in dead-end positions for that very reason. Their careers derail because the personnel they oversee never reach their true potential. Share your hard-learned lessons and experiences with your staff and create the next generation of leaders for your facility. Someone in your past took the time to share lessons with you; you have the obligation to pass that favor forward to someone else. Once you start sharing, others become comfortable sharing in the same fashion, and the institutional memory of the facility takes a huge leap forward.

8. Be nice: It seems like such a simple thing, but it resonates in everything we do and with everyone we encounter. It’s easy to be pleasant to people that are agreeable toward us or when we get the opportunity to present someone with good news. It is infinitely harder to be agreeable when we are not being treated nicely ourselves or someone is being confrontational toward us. When it gets difficult, visualize yourself in their situation and it should become easier to understand and empathize with their reaction. In some situations, “killing them with kindness” is the best possible action on your part, as opposed to what you really want to do!

9. Lastly, have fun: Appreciate what you do for a living, and if you don’t take pleasure in what you do, find an occupation you can enjoy. Most of us will work for approximately 40 years before we have the security to retire. Some will never have the financial ability to give up working, so how we feel about our profession definitely impacts the relationships we have in both our personal and professional lives. Fun is the best revenge against mind-numbing tasks, and it is not only contagious but often the best way to manage the day-to-day struggles related to this very long journey.

With the majority of casino floors across our country having the same titles and similar layouts, differentiating your property from the competition is difficult and resource-intensive. While you may not have a great deal of influence when it comes to developing marketing campaigns, you can always look for an edge by maximizing those things you can affect. These “best practices” provide a path to leadership that is neither expensive nor complex and guaranteed to offer customers a friendlier atmosphere in which to work and play.

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