3 Mistakes Hotel Managers Are Making with Their Employees

May 29, 2019

 In other industries such as logistics or manufacturing, supply chain management (SCM) is the method of controlling the different elements which come together to make up a particular product. First coined in the 1980s, SCM came to represent a more efficient way to manage all aspects of manufacturing, ensuring that there was consistency and aligned outcomes for all the components. Can this be applied to hotels? Of course!


A hotel product though, is more than just a collection of physical materials – it also contains a strong service element, is part of a community, and occupies a conceptual or “branding” place in the hospitality landscape. Supply chain modelling for a hotel product must therefore include a careful study of the human element – namely hotel employees, whose work directly impacts the satisfaction of guests, and whose turnover rates are infamously high compared to many other industries.


Recruitment is a key link in the supply chain, and as a manager, there’s a lot to be said (everything, in fact) for re-examining your recruitment strategy and finding ways to strengthen it. A lot of hotels only recruit employees when there is a specific need, for example – but this is a narrow approach that can result in missed opportunities. By engaging in consistent recruitment efforts throughout the year, you’ll develop a clearer picture of the talent pool, hiring trends, and workplace incentives. One international group with whom I worked had a very clear strategy that in good times they would hire and fire and in bad times they would hire and fire, always looking to improve the DNA of the group by bringing in new staff and even if there wasn’t a role, they would bring in good people and wait for an opportunity to place them. (They also ensured that the lowest 5% of the DNA pool were given an opportunity to grow elsewhere but that is another story.)


Of course, an employer must be able to offer real and lasting value to employees in order to attract them. Hotel management today is, more than ever, dramatically affected by the dynamics of employee morale and good managers are in tune with how it affects the health of the organisation. Since tastes and technologies change, exploring these dynamics is a learning process that never ends.


There are, however, a few big pitfalls to consider. By making the following mistakes with your employees, you might just be making your own job harder.


1. Micromanaging


It’s ironic that some people who micromanage their employees are in fact trying to motivate them. In reality, the effect is demoralising and anxiety-inducing. A 2015 study found that employees who feel that their supervisor could name their strengths felt “engaged and energised” at work. By contrast, when employees felt that the supervisor was focused on their weaknesses, performance suffered.   


If tasks are not being completed to standard, it usually means one of three things – the wrong person was hired; there is poor communication; or, there are gaps in training. The happy result of good recruitment, communication and training practices is that it allows the manager to delegate tasks with confidence. When employees feel their every action is being scrutinised, they can’t take ownership over their role. I admit that I have done this myself in the past, but then learned that when the team is performing very well it is best to just let them get on with it! The importance of an empowered and motivated staff cannot be overstated.


2. Panicking


As someone who has enjoyed a long career in hotel management, I know what it can be like when things get hectic or there is extra pressure from the boss or from the owner.  


Has the GOP dropped? Have review scores changed dramatically? Has occupancy been rising or falling over the last year? Any change in performance can lead to pressure and sometimes panic. Some managers thrive and can quickly adapt to the situation, but others panic and then ignore structures and systems that are there to help during these times.


A good manager knows that they are not alone and in fact have some wonderful resources to draw upon – including their employees. The examples above are things that can and should be discussed with employees if they are to feel like their voices are valued, and are to have a real stake in the operation. Employees often have far better insights as to what is going wrong than senior management, so when in doubt, stay calm and ask the team!


3. Not recognising good work


All of us want to feel like we’re providing value in our work, and that our value is appreciated. And, whilst some people meet or exceed goals when they have incentive to do so, it is also true that some people just like to do a good job and appreciate being recognised. There will be no end to the conversation around how to motivate, inspire, engage, and incentivise hotel employees ­– because everyone is different – but on a base level, the importance of a “culture of recognition” cannot be stressed highly enough.


Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive either – hand-written thank you cards are a good example. Providing learning opportunities are another. Using internal technology to recognise great work is another way to tell people what a great job someone has done.


Leaning how to provide a sense of growth and upward movement for each employee is a huge part of being a successful manager. Employees who know that their manager (and the organisation at large) appreciates the value they deliver, and cares about their growth, is an effective way to boost engagement.


Finding weak links in the chain


As the old saying goes, a chain is only as good as its weakest link. On that basis, what are the links that form your hotel “chain”?  Good hotel managers consider this question on a regular basis; great hotel managers not only consider it but take action to assess it and address it. If we could see our own supply chain with perfect clarity, what changes would we make?


Manager-employee dynamics are a critical link the supply chain – and when research on job satisfaction among hotel employees is published, we see these themes echoed again and again. A hotel can be beautifully designed and built, and can have great amenities and furniture, but if one of the key links (i.e. staff) isn’t invigorated from within by positive dynamics, it will never be the best product it can be.


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