Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

Sea Views Blog with Adam Goldstein

Relying on Empowerment

Our customers understand the cruise business as a series of vacations that they experience over time. Each experience reflects the features of the ship, the daily activities, the personal service from the crew and the offerings in the destinations. And so it should be.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, whether on land or onboard, there is the fundamental business reality of people leading and managing other people to develop the strategies and execute the myriad tasks that enable a fleet of cruise ships to run successfully over time. The cruise business is extraordinarily complex because it mixes the worlds of hospitality and shipping, each of which on its own contains innumerable variables. The confluence of the two worlds yields something unique in the business world, IMHO.

One consequence of this reality is that our leadership team spends a lot of time talking about our people. Sometimes we are trying to determine if a particular person is ready or could eventually be ready to take on more responsibility. Sometimes we are trying to determine if our company culture is facilitating the behaviors we hope to see our people demonstrate. At Royal Caribbean International we have fabulous, hard-working people. Many readers know such people onboard our ships. You are less likely to know our people in the IT department in Miramar, Florida or the call center in Springfield, Oregon or the sales team in Shanghai. But they are making the business happen too. And their dedication does justice to that of their amazing shipboard colleagues.

This is on my mind because the other day at my staff meeting we discussed the ever-present request of our managers to be more empowered to do their jobs better. My question to the readers is: is empowerment something you are granted or is it something you feel? I asked my leaders to keep their antenna up for whether or not a manager identifies two or more possible paths and asks his/her supervisor to choose which path to follow versus whether or not a manager him/herself makes a recommendation as to which path to follow. My sense is the latter of the two innately feels more empowered and is the type of manager we should seek to enable. I look forward to your thoughts.

18 responses to:
“Relying on Empowerment”

  1. Matt Wicks

    Empowerment is something you feel, but it comes from an environment that is created.

    When management presents solutions/paths for individuals and asks them to choose the path, it’s true the individual is “empowered” to make the decision, but are not involved with the process of determining the path. Individuals feel empowered when they are engaged in the process of determining the best path. Managers should provide their recommend path, but also engage the individual as to why they hold this belief as part of a meaningful dialog that allows the individual to be a part of the process of determining the best path, thus feeling empowered.

  2. Pingback: Relying on Empowerment | Strategic Management Accounting

  3. Chuck flagg

    I think you need to romance your employees so they will in turn romance your customers. I believe empowerment is something you feel after it has been granted. An employee needs not to fear retribution for doing what he felt was right at the time to satisfy the customer or do his job better. If there is a better way it should be handled next time, then use that as training tool instead of as a reprimand. And publicly reward through positive reinforcement.

    Watching this song about a certain airline going viral over a broken guitar, one has to wonder what would have happened if the woman mentioned by name in the song had been or felt empowered to make the situation right.

    I worked at Continental Airlines under Gordon Bethune and he instituted a corporate culture that made all levels of employees feel empowered and you could see the positive results in that company. He even wrote about them in a book called “From Worst to First.”

    If you can, reward managers who are seeing their level of influence on a daily basis when they do come up with a system or process that does their job better. Living with the “this is the way this has always been done” mentality just does not work in this normal in which we live today.

    I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.


  4. juergen haar

    We understand what you are saying, but we find that the standard is not consistent. Some are very nice and capable, some are just so polite that it hurts, they do not like their job, get those out and you will be the best cruise line in the world.

  5. tom young

    If you always look to the supervisor to choose the path then you are merely a figurehead. However if you are given a choice and it’s yours to make second guessing in every instance could lead a manager to asking the supervisor to make the choice.
    As a manger I would look at the choice made and unless it was painfully obvious that a wrong choice was made i would go with that decision. If it happened a second time then I would question that persons judgement and point out that thinking out what will occur if either decison is made and weigh the negatives and the positives. If this still didn’t work then maybe that person is just not up to that particular assignment.
    I will say this there are supervisors that are incapable of allowing a subordinate to reach decisions on their own.
    I always look for trends. If a person continually shows poor judgement then remove them. If a Restaurant continues to not meet my expectationsdon’t go. If a vacation continuously fails to meet my standards change venues. If not you have failed the the people or person or place.
    Just my thoughts.

    Tom Young

  6. Mark Dunham

    Mr. Goldstein

    In my experience empowerment is something that “in effect” you are granted as a manager. When you have a manager that is natural or well trained leader they will by nature tend to self empower. They will make decisions and seek courses of action that continually move them closer to their goal or objective, very much free of oversight. However, if they are not granted the ability to be self empowered (either expressly or tacitly) they will perform below their own standards and the result will be an underperforming manager.

    All this being said, the manager must have the quality of empowerment innate in them. For some it will be full and up front, for most it just needs to be encouraged and celebrated and in the last few it is just not in the cards. I wish you good luck and being a regular RCCL customer I applaud your efforts.

    In my experience, the greatest action of upper management is to recognize talent, empower their actions and reap the benefits.

  7. Mary McTevia

    I can’t imagine the huge amount of manpower, brain power and sheer skill it takes to run a cruise line. Just one ship takes such a vast amount of people.

    Yes, some of those people are in the background, but they aren’t any less important. Our director states it like this: “You all make me look GOOD!”

    Thanks Adam, for reminding us of all the hard work from the people behind the scenes.


  8. Jeff Leonard

    Currently smoking is permitted on stateroom balconies. Will smoking be permitted on all balconies on the Oasis (Central park and Boardwalk included)?

    • Adam

      Hello Jeff, smoking will not be permitted on our Central Park and Boardwalk balcony staterooms.



  10. Dave Wagner

    What about some help for your loyal royals. You put out a special “new bookings only” for my sailing and I would have loved to UPGRADE to a balcony but NOOOO, RCCL won’t do that. You’d still be getting more money from me and have a lower priced room available.
    These business tactics have made me decide not to give you my money a year ahead of time any longer, I’ll wait till the last minute now, that’s obviously the type of customer you want.



    I have booked a vacation on one of your ships we booked way back in Jan-Feb, we are booked to go in Sept.

    I just have one question for you, since we booked so far in advance why are we not allowed to take advantage of your sales that are going on for people you are trying to book now? When we booked we received a 15% discount on shore excursions, now you are offering monies for on board spending we made a call and were told that its for new bookings, where is the incentive for the “old bookings” and to keep your custermers happy and to return? We are booked on the Majesty of the Seas for a 3 day cruise, I’m traveling with another family and will also be looking into a 7 day cruise for next year. The last cruise we had been on was on the Carnival Cruise line. Just asking?

    • Adam

      Thanks for your comment Michele. We always encourage our guests to book early for best selection of staterooms, availability for preferred dining, and best shore excursion options. We, like our competitors, sometimes offer incentives for people to book closer in on specific sailings, but these are more the exception than the rule. Most of our pricing programs are actually more lenient than most of our competitors in allowing guests to buy down to lower pricing when it exists.

  12. Mandy

    I agree with Matt.

    A former boss told a story of a customer service rep who hired a cab to deliver an urgent package that was left off the delivery truck. This was an excessively expensive means of getting the job done and was not the ideal solution, but she kept the customer happy. Therefore, while the manager advised her as to other ways she might have handled the situation, he still praised her for meeting the utimate goal – satisfying the customer.

    I believe everyone from the CEO to the administrative assistant should be able to address issues about which they are intimately familiar, without asking permission. Conversely, I believe that those who are not intimately involved should defer to those who are. In other words, just because someone out-ranks another, doesn’t mean he should call the shots if the lower-ranked employee has more knowledge of the situation.

    It seems like such common sense, but some companies just get too caught up in politics, policy and micro-managing.

  13. willyr0284

    I think that when OASIS first arrives to Ft. Lauderdale, you should have a welcome aboard party for Crown and Anchor members and to those people that have already booked staterooms on Oasis. At least invite those that live in the Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach areas. I am already booked on OASIS on 10/23/10 and counting the days.

  14. Adam allison

    Talking about the “Behind the Scenes” that happens on a ship. My comment is going to be in a VERY negative light! Because of just happened to me on a Royal Caribbean Ship, “Mariner of the Seas” I will NEVER cruise RC Again! Adam you NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!

    When you purchase fine Mexican Jalisco Tequila from Mexico you MUST check it in. I am a huge lover of a good Tequila. I personally hand selected 13 different brands one by one and tasted each one. I had to check in my bottles and “Behind the Scenes” they disappeared. It was $281 USD worth, but stateside it was well over $1K in Tequila. What the most disgusting thing about it was, is how I was treated asking about how to get it back. It was like I was the one who was the criminal for the ship loosing MY TEQUILA!!! I was treated very rudely from the start! and spent the last 9 hours of my last night on board trying to get the ship to help me, finally at Midnight I told them I won‘t leave without resolution! They nearly made me chase them hourly for a response, constantly criminalizing me, CHECK YOU SECURITY CAMS!!!! C‘MON! And all they did in the end was credit me (with proof of my receipt of purchase which lucky I kept!) the money back! And almost no remorse or apology! I cruise 3-4 times a year and WILL NOT use RC again unless this is fixed! I almost approached CPT “Johnny” in the elevator about his ships treatment of me, but held back, because I was so mad I would have only looked as a fool. I was livid that I was the one that had to spend the last 9 hours of my vacation fixing RC’s HUGE and BLATENT mistakes. Just to be treated the way I was. RIDICULOUS! How can this be fixed in the future, Princess gives you a receipt at least? I guess we will have to now try other brands to get what we deserve and get the suites! Its not like I was in an inside room. Plus spent 2K in the Casino! I gave RC LOTS of money! And was treated lowest class! NEVER AGAIN! I mean the attendants miss delivered my parents activity tickets to the WRONG room and the other occupants tracked down my parents after they had told the attendant. 8 hours later the tix were still sitting in the room not returned to the rightful owners, so they did the job, and TO BOOT! My parents had other passengers luggage at they’re door. It was bad… just bad! And I will go on a mission on Cruise Critic to note this and other blogs! Its not like it was one mistake the made! It was so many “Who Cares” mistakes! This was 3 days ago and IM still mad! Adam!!! You have work to do on that ship Sir! Until it’s fixed we will not be returning to RC. Too bad, were going to now cancel our Oasis New Years Balcony and try another ship!!!

  15. t rachford

    is it true that rccl charges for steaks in the dinning room??
    and they also charge for Room Service after a certain time,,
    someone told me this,,but I dont think its true
    can you help me ??????
    tom rachford

  16. H. Steele

    “At Royal Caribbean International we have fabulous, hard-working people.” Yes you do! Thank goodness! One of the main reason we chose RCCL over any other line when we “retired” and wanted to give our business to one line vs. all over the map… and we cruised on most lines before retirement… was because of the “empowerment”… and congratulations for having that culture in your company! We hate it when we are told “the Company says” or “Miami won’t let us”…. Great employees always know how to offer an alternative without saying “no”! And you have many, many of these employees… Congratulation! And don’t forget your C&A employees in Wichita… they, too, are awesome… and most often “find an answer/alternative/way to satisfy” … your staff on ships and in Wichita consistently have figured out a way to deliver the WOW… with minor exceptions…. and still work within the “Corporate” guidelines…. we do hope they are recognized and rewarded!

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