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Communicating with Your Team:
Are You on the Same Page & Does Everyone Know the Score?

by Caroline Cooper
November 2010

There's nothing more frustrating, and demotivating for staff than lack of communication and being kept in the dark. Unless people know what's expected of them and what's going on you'll end up with an unhappy team, and ultimately an impact on performance levels and increased staff turnover.
Hopefully the communication starts with a thorough induction, which includes not only an outline of their job and what's expected of them, but how their contribution fits into the bigger picture, the values and culture of the business and an insight into what happens in other parts of the business.
But recognise that a one-off training session will never be enough.

Your staff need to be kept up-to-date all the time.  They need to know what is going on in the business, and how this will affect them and they need feedback on how they are doing.  Here are four ways to keep your staff up to date and let them know their contribution is important and valued.

Daily Briefings
A daily briefing (with the whole team if numbers are small enough to make this logistically possible is ideal, or by department) can update everyone on anything that affects that day's operation. It's also a great way to get feedback from them too on things that need addressing sooner rather than later.

Cover such information as:
  • General day's activities and volume of business, and the impact this has on each department
  • Who is expected: VIP guests, special needs (e.g. disabled guests, special diets), regular guests and any known preferences, so staff can anticipate their requirements
  • Today’s menu and tasting, with details of all the ingredients of each dish, what to promote today, and what’s in short supply (even if only one dish has changed from yesterday’s menu, make sure it is communicated)
  • Any excess inventory, special offers, events or deals you have coming up that need to be mentioned or promoted
  • What other activity there is in the hotel or surrounding area that could affect service in any way, e.g. maintenance, road works, concerts, weather
  • Staff shortages, and cover of responsibilities
These actions ensure your staff are fully briefed and competent to deal with any guest’s queries or concerns.

A daily briefing also provides an opportunity for you to get feedback on any guest comments. You can discuss any questions or suggestions your team may have about operational issues that could have a bearing on the level of service or sales potential of the hotel. So, even on your busiest mornings make sure these briefings still happen – it’s generally on the days that are your busiest that things go wrong, and it’s generally your busiest days when you have the best opportunities for increasing sales.
Regular update meetings
Regular meetings - weekly, fortnightly or monthly give an opportunity to:
  • Share ideas
  • Give and get updates on what's happening across departments, to encourage teamwork
  • How the business is performing at operational level and any changes necessary or areas of focus
  • Changes happening in the business and how these might affect staff (before they happened and the rumours take over)
  • Give regular on going training or development
These type of meetings need to be two-way, (not the type of' town hall' address) and an opportunity for your team to have their say and put forward their ideas and suggestions. You may be pleasantly surprised at how resourceful they can be in finding solutions to problems. Often they add a fresh perspective.

Regular one to ones
Never under estimate the impact of sitting down with each member of staff on a one to one basis. Note here the term regular. These should be scheduled so staff can plan for them and around them. And nothing smacks more of "I'm not valued" that one to one meetings being continually cancelled for the slightest reason.
One to ones should be more than just a review of performance. Yes, that’s a part, but they should also be an opportunity to:
  • Giving feedback on specifics (see for a full article on feedback)
  • Talk about their ideas
  • Where they need support and development
  • What you want from them, and they want from you in future
  • Setting goals and direction for the coming weeks and beyond
However these will only be valued if you are true to your word and honour any promises made and can back up your feedback (good or bad) with timely examples. If people's previous experience of one to one meetings up till now has been bad or at best just a waste of time, it can take time to build trust before these can be totally honest exchanges.

Spur of the moment
And finally don’t forget the value of the impromptu communication. This might be anything from a simple "thank you everyone" at the end of a busy shift, to the 'emergency briefing' when something big hits. The thing is these are impromptu - either loses its impact if scheduled in advance and in the case of the emergency briefing the jungle drums and rumours will take over if delayed.


Caroline Cooper is a business coach with over 25 years’ experience in business and leadership development, and founder of Zeal Coaching, specializing in working with hospitality businesses, and is author of the Hotel Success Handbook. She is also creator of the Foundations in Leadership online leadership programme for hospitality managers, bringing a brand new approach to hospitality leadership development.

Caroline Cooper 
Zeal Coaching 
tel:  +44 (0)7887 540914

Also See: Is - No News, Good News - for Your Team? Employees Need Feedback to Become Great at their Jobs / Caroline Cooper / October 2010

Nip it in the Bud ~ Dealing with Poor Work Performance / Caroline Cooper / September 2010

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