By Hannah Wallace February 28, 2009

Pat Neal, CEO, Neal Communications

We are working very hard to try to keep our team together and optimistic. I wish I could say that we had novel ways; I think I am just leading the traditional way: trying to communicate and motivate; leading with a human face; trying to connect with the executives and the team; and trying to communicate truth, vision and optimism. We have communication meetings every two months, usually planned around a holiday or celebration, with an economic update. Our most recent celebration was Groundhog Day. We had a Groundhog Day skit by employees about seeing one’s shadow to predict the future, and one about making lemons into lemonade.

Mark Becker, general manager, Hyatt Regency Sarasota

We have a couple of great incentive programs to motivate our associates. One is called, “You've been caught.” We give cards to associates if they have been doing something great, then we put the cards into a drawing for gifts. In our All-Star program, we recognize six associates each month; I take them to a restaurant and each of them receives a gift and complimentary parking for the month. We use a guest survey as incentive for our room attendants. Those with high performance ratings are given gift cards to Wal-Mart. And our associate and manager of the year get an extra week of vacation, two free airline tickets to anywhere in the United States, a 5-night stay at that particular Hyatt and $500 in food and beverage credit. 

Mary Ruiz, CEO, Manatee Glens

On the business side, we use the same techniques we have always used to be successful. We are a little different than other companies: We are communicators, and we always tell our employees where we are financially, and where we are doing well and where we are not. What that does is allow for my employees to have trust in me as a CEO, and to participate in our success as a company, to turn around the failure. We are always looking years ahead, we have plans and alternatives for the future; we are always planning new services and opportunities. In bad economic times, our employees always know we have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. We recently cut 17 positions; we met with each person individually, explaining our decision, giving them suggestions and support. We have also developed a wellness committee based on our employees’ suggestions, with the idea of taking care of each other. As a CEO, many things worry me: uncertainty, laying employees off, the recession and being worried about the future of my business. That’s why I have to take care of myself, too. I walk two or three miles every morning, I do fun things. Ultimately I can’t take care of other people if I can’t take care of myself.

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