By Robert A. Rauch
Whether you are an owner, industry executive, general manager or aspiring industry leader, 2017 is going to be a very solid year as we have forecasted. We have also covered the Top 10 Trends of the year to help us stay ahead of the game. But one of the additional keys to success is team member satisfaction. Without a satisfied hotel staff, we have no foundation upon which to build. So here is a primer that has as a premise the following statement from Laurence Geller, Founder of Strategic Hotels and Resorts and Chancellor of the University of West London, “a great leader must surround him or herself with people that are better than themselves.”
“Strong leaders are essentially great generalists in terms of knowledge areas, attitudes and skill sets…and focus on others and not themselves,” according to Keith Kefgen, author of Loneliness of Leadership: Solitude to Success. Leadership is one of the areas we focus on within our hotels to promote a positive environment. Attitude starts from the top and trickles down to everyone else. Good managers/supervisors with a hands-on approach can build teams up and help grow individuals. When team members have someone to lean on, learn from and that listens to them, they are much more satisfied and their quality of work significantly increases.
In this environment where hospitality has become more science than art, it is often forgotten that to train and motivate staff, we must have a strong foundation of knowledge. In addition to some of the basics, this knowledge must include the ability to budget by forecasting both revenues and expenses, the awareness of which distribution channels are most profitable, revenue management tenets and finally trends. These include robotics, artificial intelligence, mobile check-in with smart phones and more. Further, a “business success plan” for the hospitality industry requires a new set of disciplines. Knowledge acquisition of the changing technologies coupled with strong service leadership skills will make the transfer of the success plan to each unit manager much easier.
Perhaps the most critical items for a business success plan are to have a vision, a clearly defined set of goals and a “glass is half full” mindset. Leadership talents include caring, giving and building others into leaders. Not only is it important to be a leader among your team and staff, it is very important that one remains an industry leader as well. Staying informed on the constant, rapid technological advancements within the industry will make all the difference when competing with other companies and organizations. There is a need to compare today’s distribution channels with those that were in existence over the past few years to become aware of just one of the significant differences. The observation of an emerging mobile web, a blossoming social media market, the sharing economy disruptors and development in digital marketing are all pivotal in staying ahead of the curve.
“Where trust is high, resistance is low. Therefore, change and progress come quickly. Conversely, where trust is low, resistance is high. Therefore, change and progress come slowly,” according to Dr. Randy Ross in his 2016 book Remarkable: Maximizing Results through Value Creation.
Company culture has become extremely important in retaining good talent and trust is developed through this positive company culture. Jumping ship is easy to do unless employees are truly engaged and supportive of the mission. While job benefits are always a positive, they are now so common place that they cannot stand alone when it comes to employee retention. Take a note from how we treat our guests and create an environment where your team feels valued, cared for and respected. Then watch as your service scores reflect the work of a satisfied team.
In his book, It’s Not Just Who You Know, Tommy Spaulding lays out a new level of relationships. He claims that “those who separate themselves from the pack define the interests of ‘others’ and work tirelessly to help them advance.” Spaulding goes on to explain that these “penthouse” relationships move up from surface level of facts and social niceties to complete transparency marked by long-standing loyalty. However, he cautions that “many people lack the skills, confidence or motivation to build professional relationships that go beyond mere networking.” So take that as a challenge and start to develop that deep trust!
Labor and Related Costs
Financial leadership skills are valuable for all leaders to have, especially those who want to advance. Moreover, fiscal health is another leadership responsibility item that requires guiding the organization toward profitability. Line managers and department heads sometimes lose sight of the fact that their decisions have financial impacts on the business. Leadership must always be caring and compassionate but today’s increasing worker compensation costs, health insurance costs and labor costs may cause a business to fail. If that occurs, human conditions like layoffs, bankruptcy, foreclosure or hostile takeover will be much worse than the stress of dealing with and reigning in expenses. Today’s labor costs represent nearly 45 percent of hotel costs when we factor in worker’s compensation, health care costs and other payroll related expenses so we must hire the best available talent.
When we hire, we must look for leaders who have self-confidence, ask lots of questions and care for others. These are the types of people who can someday replace us; perhaps they have some unique skills that we do not have. After we have hired the right person, we must train the team members in the specifics of the job and coach them to do their job well. After both training and coaching, the manager (leader) needs to get out of the way and let people do their job. Delegate tasks, authority and decision-making, but hold people accountable for their actions. A manager who works seven days a week to make sure things get done right is missing the most important attribute of leadership.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, be honest, caring and hard-working and you can begin to build the trust needed to drive your organization. Be both a teacher and a mentor so that when people learn, they also feel like they have a “go to” source for advice. Our greatest assets are our team members and our customers. If we treat them both honestly, care about them and work hard to preserve the quality and attention to detail that they require, we will have helped to create a “unique selling proposition” that sets us apart from the competition.