For many leaders, face-to-face interaction with your workforce is instrumental in keeping the company ship-shape.
Of course, this is no easy feat when many of your 43,000 employees work on the high seas, which is the case for Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy.
That’s why she embarked on a mission to visit all of the ships in Carnival’s fleet when she took the helm in 2015.
During that time, she made it her goal to meet with as many Carnival employees as possible.
“Nothing replaces face-to-face interaction,” Duffy told Business Insider. “So as much as we all love our technology and we’re always pushing out emails, I think we still need to be establishing connections at a human level and building trust that way. That really allowed me to make that human connection with people at all levels of the organisation.”
Duffy still travels constantly and only hangs back at the company’s Miami headquarters for about a week every month.
When she visits one of the line’s cruise ships, she’s not just convening with direct reports, officers, and other company leaders. Duffy said she makes it a point to also talk with housekeepers, dining room wait staff, and performers — anyone who is “very close to the action.” The goal is to check in and get a broader range of ideas on how to improve Carnival.
Duffy said she usually poses the same three questions to her employees:
1. What’s working?
2. What’s not working?
3. If you were me, what is it that you would want to know?
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, MIT Leadership Center Executive Director Hal Gregersen said that good leaders must avoid becoming caught up in a loop of puffed up, sugarcoated feedback.
That means asking employees “challenging new questions that fuel important insights” to get a better sense of how things are looking on the ground and whether or not a major change is needed.
“I think that’s really part of my job as president of the brand and the company to make the time to hear directly from the people on the front line,” Duffy said.
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