FYI at Innisfree Hotels

By Mike Nixon, President

When FYI started, it was 100 percent Julian’s idea and 100 percent my program.

I must have had some direction. He must have wanted something. What he wanted was to spread the virtues of our corporate culture throughout the company, from the ground up.

We discovered The Virtues Project. Not Baha’i-based but with a Baha’i influence, it came out of a foundation in Canada seeking to implement virtues like kindness, justice and integrity in everyday life.

In the beginning, the virtues were limited in number. We were trying to find a way to get these virtues out to our community, so we started in our hotels.

The vision was that everyday, we’d share a different virtue with our teammates that would be inspiring enough they might go share it with their families.

FYI was born.

Everyday, there is a team huddle led by the GM of each hotel. A virtue is the biggest part of it.

As FYI evolved, we adapted the virtues to be hospitality-specific.

Take BRAVERY for example: If anyone doesn’t think hospitality requires bravery, they’ve never met a woman who has traveled 500 miles with her children to find out the room she reserved has only one bed.

Now, each virtue had a twist to our industry. We added in inspirational quotes by famous people in an effort to drive it home.

The other section of the original FYI paper document was a place where GMs could fill in information that was important to share with the group. The idea was that Phyllis from accounting could say her son graduated from the 5th grade and she was very proud … to celebrate each other.

Some very profound announcements came out of that. We would learn a housekeeper’s son got out of prison, or that the first child in a whole family graduated from college.

Maybe just by osmosis, other people would learn about that virtue.

After a while, FYI got away from its original intent, and we’re trying to bring it back.

It became a time of hotel announcements instead of people announcements.

The original dream that we’d all sing Kumbaya together became more like, “Wear your nametag.”

Today, there are around 100 virtues. When we finish them, we begin again. Because turnover can be very high with line-level employees, we want to repeat ourselves so the new group gets a sense of the culture here.

When it’s presented correctly, you get the buy-in.

FYI is a way to get the entire hotel team together once a day. We often get so busy in our own jobs that we forget we are a team. Just five or 10 minutes together make a difference. It takes place at the same time every day. There is no question. Nobody misses it.

And that, my friend, is the “why” in F-Y-I.

– As told to Ashley Kahn Salley

Lead Storyteller, Innisfree Hotels