Early on in my career I was lucky to meet my mentor. I was young, and didn’t realize how important his casino management philosophy and advice on the casino life would become. Reflecting today, his wisdom has guided me well.
The casino business has always been a small world. Certainly, years ago it was smaller than today. The proliferation of casinos worldwide has produced many new faces, but we are still small. Those of us in the business live a life that not many people will ever get to see or understand.
Consequently, this small world meant that career opportunities were not as prolific as other industries. This had the effect of creating a management philosophy, among many managers, based on self-preservation. Once a person achieved a certain perch, they would do what it takes to not fall off.
Many experiences have been shared by others in the casino business. Some managers deflected blame or, developed cliques with loyal subjects hoping for advancement or protection. Unfortunately, this still happens today and the list could go on. Ultimately, managers who engage in this type of management style are weak. It’s a reflection of their lack of true leadership skills, self-confidence or stated experience. These types of individuals will always exist and we must learn to work through them as best we can. In the end, they rarely last.
What I would like to touch on is something different. Significantly apparent in the past, and still around today, is the following notion. “If I don’t teach people what I know, no one can take my job.” In other words, self-preservation. Engaging in this philosophy means that the manager strives to make himself look good through the ignorance of others. This is followed by the expectation that a team member should inherently know what to do in any given scenario. Sadly, when kept in the dark, the employee’s motivation eventually wanes. As a result, this type of manager must work harder to maintain strong morale and productivity among the team. The idea of success flows from the top, down. It is a poor strategy that goes against the adage, “Work smarter, not harder.”
On numerous occasions I have had stories relayed to me about managers that don’t take the time to speak with staff, neither as a team nor individually. Some I have spoken with had never even met their manager. This is a type of casino management philosophy that can change.
Employees who are engaged are happy. They are also eager to learn new things and work towards their career goals and become successful. Many want to feel like what they do matters; that they have an impact on the success of the business.
In my career, the following has been my philosophy:
If I can teach someone everything I know and guide them in the right direction, eventually replacing me, I have achieved success.
In the casino business, there is a reason for everything we do; for every decision we make. The reason may be unapparent, but it exists. If we want our team members to develop and learn, we must be willing to teach them the “why” behind certain things we do. I am not implying we share information that may be confidential. Though I do believe that we have an obligation to enlighten our future leaders on the rationale behind:
- The development or implementation of procedures.
- The course of action for successful conflict resolution.
- How or why compensation occurs for a patron.
- The creation/change of a game spread/mix.
And the list is effectively endless…
Our casino management philosophy should be to teach and develop our future leaders. More often than not, we will not have strong managers if the expectation is that they learn on their own while we keep our knowledge secret.
As an executive, my success is dependent upon the success of my team. If I teach, develop and support my team, I am giving them the tools to succeed.
Therefore, contrary to the failing ideology described earlier, success flows from the bottom, up. A leader who teaches and develops his team will create respect and loyalty. This, in turn, will engender a positive work environment and an engaged, successful team. This leads to a successful business, and by default, the leader’s success.
Don’t be afraid to share what you know. It is the ultimate compliment to be replaced by someone you taught. And if you are truly knowledgable, there is always room for one more in a casino… anywhere in the world.
And that, is my casino management philosophy.