By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.hotelmogel.com)
Mentorship and training are consummately important aspects of any successful business, but one of the most salient rigors of hospitality is that no manager has the time to properly devote to this task. We are all too busy putting out the proverbial fires and managing the day-to-day that we neglect the long-term because we’re mentally and often physically drained.
There are both obvious and lurking dangers, though, in sidelining formal mentorship and training that could result in a lack of succession planning or, worse, operational deficiencies that compromise guest service. One other seldom mentioned corollary here is that relegating mentees to only ‘learning by doing’ or any sort of ‘trial by fire’ means that they become psychologically locked into a given way of executing tasks whether it’s the best and most efficiency way or not – often leading to what is coined as legacy issues.
Knowing that dedicated chunks of time for training will forever be sparse, the laudable trend proliferating to combat this nowadays is that of microlearning or microtraining. The human brain is more inclined to absorb information and to advance skills in bite-sized morsels, and we are starting to acknowledge this behavior in how we instruct narrow disciplines. This process is often greatly enhanced by technological means to thereby enable pupils to learn wherever and whenever they want.
If you properly onboard your supervisors and hold them accountable, these new app-based education tools can significantly boost operational skill sets as well as save managers’ time and motivate the end user so you can better retain top talent. Moreover, there’s an alternate play here in that such software can be utilized as a secure portal to onboard managerial recruits and safely display confidential information. With these advantages at play, the shift to microlearning environments is inevitable.
After you grasp these benefits of the microtraining revolution, what’s proposed now is an adjunctive philosophy pertaining to the purely in-person rapport between mentor and mentee. After all, this is a people business and no app will replace that altogether.
In a harried environment such as a hotel, no senior manager has, say, an hour every day to meet regularly with each individual reporting to him or her. There’s always some crisis at the forefront, and frankly we hoteliers already have too many meetings on our plates to begin with.
Indeed, good leaders work to set up regular weekly or biweekly meetings to run through projects, but these gatherings are far more about planning next steps than exploring decision making thought processes. Again, we seldom have time for the true personal development of others, leaving this as a laissez faire approach whereby there will always be those who flounder under pressure. What if instead you had a loose system for the onboarding of managers to ensure that you minimized any such lemons?
Just as microlearning calls for intensive bursts of training, the proposed concept of ‘micromentorship’ would act akin to the morning lineup or daily huddle except on a deeper, more individualistic level. Lasting no more than ten minutes, such meetings could be regularly scheduled at a given time and at a frequency of twice or thrice per week whereby you cover just one or two topics without getting into the grand overarching career planning stuff that really has no application to the quotidian workload in the first place.
By limiting the allotted time commitment for both the mentor and the mentee, you ensure maximal concentration from the two parties, ensuring the lessons are most effectively absorbed. Furthermore, while one-hour meetings are much more likely to be subject to postponements due to all the various crises that arise, a check-in that’s no more than a quarter of an hour remains nimble and flexible to daily impasses.
Then combine this soft touch technique with an online training tool to handle all the basics and your hotel will have an ostensibly first-rate system for rapidly ushering rising stars toward autonomy and ultimately success. Undoubtedly many of you are already engaging in some form of micromentorship already, but by codifying it around a neologism and enforcing it through the senior team, we help give it true authority to thereby work its magic throughout your hospitality organization.
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Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.