3 golden rules on how to manage staff effectively

After a recent trip to Fiji, Saurabh Khanna explains why business owners should lead their team ‘the LikuLiku way’

Recently, I was able to finally make my once-in-a-lifetime trip to the beautiful islands of Fiji.

I landed at Denarau airport, and after a rather sweaty and humid experience through the airport I was out on the mainland.

I hopped on a two-hour boat ride out from the island to this little paradise called LikuLiku.

Although my mind couldn’t really move further than the great food, blue seawater filled with colorful sea life, and the endless sight of the ocean, I couldn’t help but wonder how they were able to run such an efficient operation in literally the middle of nowhere! They had power generators, green waste recyclers, five-star chefs, security teams, everything you’d expect from a five-star New York hotel but in a small, almost empty lagoon!

So, I decided to speak with a gentleman named Steve Anstey. Anstey, the general manager of the lagoon, spoke with pride and confidence – “it took a lot of hard work to get here”, he said.

I am always intrigued with different cultures, and I have to say that Fijians have the most relaxed lifestyle I have ever seen. The three most important lessons taught to Fijian youngsters are how to swim, how to fish, and how to climb coconut trees.

Anstey, a stern manager from South Africa, was in charge of a team of 100 Fijian locals at the lagoon. I was even more curious then to find out how he manages the operations of his ‘laid-back-natured’ team – to ensure such a well-run resort.

likuliku

It just shows that even in paradise there are business lessons to be learned. Here are some tips I got from Anstey that could help start-ups of today…

Keep non-negotiable golden rules

At LikuLiku, the beauty of the island automatically seems to ease you into the relaxed lifestyle – whether you’re a guest of the island or a member of the staff.

Anstey allows for room to wiggle as long as the three golden rules are not broken. There is zero tolerance for breaking of any of these three golden rules. LikuLiku makes a special effort to ensure staff know and are reminded of these rules.

Now, the rules at LikuLiku are not ones you’d necessarily need to adapt here in the UK (no stealing, no alcohol and no violence). However, the principle is one worth thinking about. Three rules that are non-negotiable, and that form the backbone of your business can help give staff a sound sense of boundaries and direction – and as long as you remain flexible on some other areas (that don’t include your rules) – promote fairness.

Involve everyone in making your customers feel special

LikuLiku has the happiest and friendliest staff I have ever met. Everyone is smiling, everyone knows your name, everyone’s willing to help – it’s truly amazing.

The management at LikuLiku have meetings everyday where the staff are briefed on the arriving guests, their names, length of stay and the reason why they are visiting LikuLiku (yes, that’s right!). They go above and beyond to deliver a truly personal experience.

There seems to be this vibe and culture at the Lagoon of knowing the story behind every person. It’s almost weird for a staff member at LikuLiku not to know your name and the reason why you are there.

Looking back, not only does this make for a wonderful experience as a guest, but it creates an extremely positive perception of the competence of the staff and their attention to detail. Moreover, for the staff themselves, they feel a closeness to their customers that actually encourages them to go the extra mile.

Put standards before profits

LikuLiku is truly a paradise in paradise. I was fortunate enough to travel all the way from gloomy London to Fiji for staying at this lagoon. This experience will probably stay with me for all my life.

Talking to Anstey, it became evident that he’s not after bottom line profits. He’s not even after a set-up that allows maximum customer inflow. He’s purely after giving the best possible experience to guests at the Lagoon, and his staff share that very same vision with him.

This point is easily missed amongst competition but start-ups today can learn from LikuLiku’s policy. It’s possible to throw competition out of the water, not by undercutting on price, but by building a stellar product that’s better than anything else on offer.

Obviously profits are important – and so is understanding what it is customers most want from your business. But at a luxury resort in Fiji, price is not going to be the number one concern for users, their experience is – and I can confirm that it was truly unforgettable.

Saurabh is the Founder & CEO of Headely, a London based recruitment platform. You can find Saurabh on Twitter (@_SaurabhKhanna) or LinkedIn (http://uk.linkedin.com/in/saurabhk01)

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