By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky

Amidst a labor shortage, hotels the world over are looking to do more with less, be it digitalizing or automating processes, devising new recruitment strategies, increasing the reward structure to prevent employee, churn, or ramping up team productivity by whatever means necessary. All are good ventures, but instead of only focusing on the ‘staff’ we must also take a sharper look at the ‘manager’.

In a lean organizational structure, many managers or supervisors have become, to borrow from baseball, pinch hitters for other departments or all-round utility players able to complete a variety of tasks for a myriad of previously siloed operations. Over the past two years, we’ve seen revenue managers take on sales roles, ops directors check guests in at the front desk, and GMs change beds. These were short-term measures, of course, but the point is clear; hotelier roles are rapidly evolving and properties that stalwartly adhere to traditional roles are bound to get left in the dust.

And even as travel numbers tick back up to the pre-Covid golden years, we don’t see this ‘role amalgamation’ reverting. From the owner’s ever-pecuniary eye, utility players on the income statement look like more ‘utility’ – that is productivity – per available player.

But there is one aspect of the average manager’s quotidian duties that we’ve harked on before and deserves repeating. Hotels suffer from too many meetings and too many meeting participants who simply shouldn’t be there. The world is moving too fast nowadays, and time is too precious for a decision-by-committee style of administration.

Without writing an entire 300-page dissertation on organizational behavior in the post-Covid era, let’s apply a litmus test that we’re borrowing from one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the 21st century – Jeff Bezos. Love him or hate him, the man knows how to run a company, and we’re sure anyone holding Amazon stock would agree.

This hallowed litmus test that’s weaved its way through Silicon Valley is the ‘two-pizza rule’. Simply put, any meeting should be attended by no more individuals than can be fed by two whole pizzas.

There’s a lot of psychology to unpack here. First, many managers, and even executives, confuse ‘busy’ or ‘work’ with realized ‘output’. You can table ideas and debate them ad nauseam, but if no decision is made and no subsequent action taken, then it’s all for naught. Some managers feel the need to attend every meeting to fill their day and give the appearance of being busy when the whole point of any meeting should be to reach consensus then divide the work up to conquer.

Differentiating between the state of being busy and output should then clue you in to how to reform your company’s meetings so that more projects are executed without having to onboard new bodies. Thinking by way of two pizzas, does this person really need to sit in on the meeting? What’s their express purpose for attending? Would having them read the meeting minutes suffice? Who is taking these meeting minutes, or at least summarizing the discussion and follow-up steps? Who has seniority to assign or delegate these resultant activities?

This two-pizza rule also applies to video calls. While it may seem polite to include as many managers as possible, let’s not forget that humans are naturally horrible multitaskers. So, when you ask someone to attend who doesn’t need to be there, they’ll end up going on mute and wandering onto unrelated tasks or going into inbox-clearing mode, and only performing at mediocre quality levels at best. Again, do these people really need to sit in on the call? Very often, you’ll get more done – that is, more output – from two managers hashing it out over the phone than a courteous video call where two managers are compelled to attend, then contribute mere salutations at the beginning and end.

No doubt you may have heard of similar aphorisms that can help make your organization more efficient. We say, “Whatever works.”

While the two-pizza rule presents an appetizing visual to make it more memorable, the productivity drives you are currently seeking out in the ‘labor’ department should be simultaneously conjoined with ways to make your ‘manager’ time structure more effective – whether they involve food analogies or not. Either way, it’s all about attaining a healthier bottom line, for which reducing the number of attendees as well as the frequency of meetings are both great places to start.

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Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry or Adam directly.