Building a Culture of Service

Creating a workplace culture that puts service first – and why it matters.

Our crews have been busy traveling a lot lately! Each time they return, we share tales from the road. Among these stories are several that focus around the same topic … a culture of service (or lack thereof). 

Here are two recent stories they shared. Although the establishments they took place in were similar, their experiences could not have been more different.

First story.

On a Friday night, after rehearsing for the event, the crew went out to eat together. As they waited to be seated, a customer who was exiting the restaurant dropped their napkin on the floor. Several people noticed, but in the grand scheme of things, it was no big deal. 20 minutes later, the customer had left, the table had been cleared and cleaned, a new party was seated, and even received their first round of drinks. Throughout those 20 minutes, dozens of staff members walked by, many several times. But none leaned down to pick up the napkin.

As the night went on, that same lackluster attention to detail was increasingly evident. Service was slow, food was lukewarm, the staff needed to be waved down to request refills (a few had to be ordered multiple times).

Second story.

The following evening, after a full day of sessions, the team went out for dinner again. It was busy at the restaurant, and even though they made a reservation, they needed to wait at the bar while their table was cleared off. As they were waiting, they saw a busser bump into a server, who in turn spilled everything they were carrying. Every employee in the area with a free hand immediately swarmed over (including the nicely-dressed manager).  The staff worked together to clean the mess and everything was completely cleared within minutes.

This attention to detail and willingness to lend a helping hand was noticed throughout the evening. The food was delicious and came out piping hot, the server was personable and gave knowledgeable recommendations, and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. Patrons could clearly see the staff working together and how they enjoyed helping each other during busy moments.

Ultimately, these stories are about much more than a dropped napkin being left on the floor or a busy server dropping a tray of food. They’re about workplace culture – and how that culture affects the experiences of both the workers and the customers.

Creating a culture of service.

A culture of service is something that may seem hard to define – but when it’s present, you can easily tell. Of course, if it’s hard to define, it may seem even harder to create.

Regardless of your industry – restaurants, retail, healthcare customer service … even the live event industry … there are a few key elements that create a culture of service.

1. Lead by example.

“A manager’s job is to remove obstacles and set their team up to succeed.”

Tom Stimson, Business Advisor, Author, Coach, and Speaker.

The role of a leader is not simply to oversee a project or iron out mistakes. Good leaders are actively involved in the success of their organization and the teams they lead. They are responsible for teaching and developing those around them.

The success of a leader can (and should) be measured by the success and growth of those they’ve mentored.

A leader is responsible for setting the tone for everyone else. Whether this means greeting their staff with a smile at the beginning of a busy shift or creating and maintaining a calm backstage environment during an event, being a leader means acting professionally and proactively planning for any situation that may arise.

2. Teamwork.

Our team saw it in the second restaurant – when two people collide, even more should come together to clean up. This is true in an office, warehouse, and onsite. Good teams work together, communicate clearly (and frequently), and have well-known expectations for safety/security/appearance/etc.

The true power of a team is tested when things don’t go according to plan. Without teamwork, employees look to point the finger and deflect blame, while a strong team is more concerned about crafting solutions and outcomes.

Pro-Tip: conducting All Hand Meetings throughout the year helps every member of the team understand their role within the organization, the organization’s expectations, and how they contribute to the bigger picture.

3. Treat Coworkers as Internal Clients.

It’s easy to become complacent with the people you see every day. However, teams work better when they treat each other with the same positivity, energy, and respect that they treat their clients with. It’s important that each team member shows up every day with a commitment to helping each other just as much as they help their clients.

As with clients, it’s important to be respectful of everyone’s time, communicate clearly, avoid interrupting others, and curtail unproductive complaining.

Ultimately, if you wouldn’t say it or send it to a client, you shouldn’t be saying it or sending it to your coworkers. Treat your team with the same level of respect and kindness that you’d treat anyone else.

This will create a culture that fosters growth, innovation, and kindness – and it will be just as evident to your clients as it is to your internal teams.

What does this have to do with live events?

Great question! We all understand the importance of service, and the culture that goes into creating great experiences. But why does that matter when it comes to live events?

Event production companies work under the umbrella of the service industry – we’re working with clients to create incredible experiences that share messaging and excite audiences. It’s just as important for show crews to have a culture of service as it is for a restaurant.

That being said, we believe every organization can (and should!) create a culture of service. Whether it’s serving their customers, their communities, or their coworkers, a service oriented culture creates positive mindsets and inspires employees to put their best foot forward.

We love when our crews notice how culture affects performance – we hope yours do too!

At Encompass, we have unique backgrounds that situate us perfectly to produce high end and complex offerings. We’ve worked in broadcast television, touring entertainment, live sporting events, and countless convention facilities across the country.

We have technical design experience and a disciplined process in place that allows us to easily scale events and shift from in-person to virtual without angst. There isn’t much that’s beyond our scope and we love the intensity of putting on events!

If you’re a planner working to create an event, seeking help with virtual event technology, or simply want to learn more … we can help! Sign up below to receive our updates (we promise to keep your contact information secure and won’t “overshare”).