Monthly Archives: August 2010

Solving an Issue

Here are two sets of questions to use to solve a problem or issue.

Take your problem and work through the first set of questions.

  1. What is the problem?
  2. How long have you had it?
  3. Whose fault is it?
  4. Who is to blame?
  5. What is your worst experience with this problem?
  6. Why haven’t you solved it yet?

How do you feel? Probably not very positive or motivated to do much about the problem!

 

Now work through the problem using the following set of questions.

  1. What do you want instead of the issue?
  2. How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
  3. How can it be solved?
  4. Who can help you reach this objective quickly?
  5. What resources will help?
  6. What can be learnt from this matter?

 

How do you feel about the problem this time around?

The first set of questions all look at directing blame.

The second set are aiming to resolve the problem.

These are great questions to ask your team when asking them to look for solutions to problems. Try using them in one to ones or team meetings when problem solving, and see what results you get.

 

Involving your team in problem solving is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme


Spur of the moment meetings

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 5

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.

Communication was one of the topics covered in “How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge” series of interviews, and   my new online leadership coaching programme is being launched in September.


Regular one to ones

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 4

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 https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-rescources/ 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.

Tomorrow we’ll cover spur of the moment meetings.

One to one’s are a key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme


Regular update meetings

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 3

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.

Tomorrow we’ll cover one to one meetings.

Communication was one of the topics covered in “How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge” series of interviews.

 


Daily Briefings

Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 2

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:

  • 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)
  • What special offers, events or deals you have coming up that need to be mentioned
  • 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.

Tomorrow we’ll look at regular update meetings.

My new online leadership coaching programme is being launched in September


Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 1

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.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the importance of the daily briefing.

Good communication is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme


Why do staff quit your hotel?

Yesterday I was at the local hoteliers’ association meeting where one of the topics of conversation was finding good quality staff, in particular chefs. We already know that there is a lack of new talent entering the industry so it’s important that we hang on to our best people. The hospitality industry has always had one of the highest labour turnover rates in all sectors of the economy but there are a few things that we can do to minimise staff turnover.

First of all unless we understand why staff leaving it will be difficult to reverse the trend. In an ideal world some kind of confidential exit interview should be conducted and wherever possible this is best done by someone other than a line manager. The reason for this is that if it’s poor management or leadership that has prompted the move, it’s unlikely that you’re going to learn the truth if the line manager is asking the question! The saying goes people don’t quit jobs they quit bosses.

But even if your staff structure doesn’t allow for this it is important to find out much as possible about people’s motives for leaving.

If the reason they give is more money look to see how your rates compare with the competition. But also look at what benefits your staff are getting that they may not be getting elsewhere and ensure people are aware of everything that makes up their package.

If they’re moving for career progression, is this something that you could a given them but just didn’t make them aware of the opportunities? What can you do in future to ensure that all your team get the recognition and development they need for their career progression? You won’t be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small hotel, but having some kind of succession plan in place does give people something to work towards. However, don’t make promises that you are unable to keep.

And if you find out you are the problem and the reason that people leave, reflect on what you need to do to change. Find out what are the things that people find difficult or frustrating about working for you or with you, and then figure out a way to change your approach.

My new online leadership coaching programme could be a starting point to getting the help you need and is being launched in September.


Can you train leadership?

As I work on my new on line leadership coaching programme for hoteliers I was asked today if you can train leadership.  Good question; and brings us back to one of those perennial questions – are leaders born or made?

According to extensive long term research carried out by CHPD (for whom I work as an external leadership consultant) a proportion of leadership performance is influenced by personality, values, beliefs and attitudes, which are either inherent or formed relatively early in life. A second component is the person’s skills and experience, which although can’t change over night, can be developed over time. But by far the biggest proportion of leadership performance is determined by our behaviours, which are the easiest component to change.

So can you train leadership? Yes, I believe you can. Providing you identify the behaviours needed and then work on developing those behaviours that will give the biggest impact on a person’s performance.

These might not be where the person is weakest. Rather than plugging a gap to develop a weak spot (unless it is having a detrimental impact) and end up with mediocre performance, it may be better to capitalise on a person’s strengths and develop those instead. (I think back to my recent interview with Peter Thomson – “people will never consistently do who they aren’t”.) Then set up teams where individuals complement one another. Think of a football team; if someone showed an aptitude to do well in goal, you would be more likely to develop this skill rather than try to develop this person in every other aspect of playing football; what you are more likely to do is develop their goal keeping skills.

One of the first things to do in changing someone’s behaviours is making them aware – being aware of what they are doing, and the impact this has (see article on feedback), then help them identify how to build on positive behaviours and change negative behaviours.

Foundations in Leadership is a new approach to hospitality leadership development. Do you ever feel you aren’t getting everything you want from your team?  Instead would you love to tap into their true potential so you can focus on the bigger picture? Find out more about the programme here and take advantage of the fast action bonuses.


Learn to let go

I caught myself this week doing something I really should have delegated to someone else. Not only was this tying up my valuable time when I could be doing something more productive; the person who should have done it would have done a better job, and in half the time!

Do you ever find yourself falling into this trap?

When you own the business or have high stakes in it, it can sometimes be difficult to let others get on with things. In my recent interview series ‘How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge’ two of my interviewees talked about how hands on they like to be. And it is understandable. And a good leader should be prepared to muck in and roll their sleeves up when absolutely necessary; but this should be the exception rather than the rule.

The skill is knowing when to let go of the day to day issues, and put your trust in someone else to get on with things, leaving you to focus on the more strategic aspects of the businesses.

So just check to see if you ever catch yourself using any of these ‘excuses’

 

■              “It takes too much time to explain, I can do it quicker”
In the short-term yes, but in the longer term if you delegate you are saving time

 

■              “They aren’t yet capable”
And never will be unless you start incorporating delegation as part of your people’s development plans

 

■              “No-one, except me, is up to it”
Maybe, but are you being too much of a perfectionist?  Does the task need such a degree of excellence?  If not, maybe someone can do the job adequately in less time

 

■              “I enjoy these tasks – losing them would make my job less interesting”
In the longer term, improvement in staff morale and performance will make your job easier and just as enjoyable

 

■              “I delegate some things – the things I hate”
Consider whether simply discarding and offloading work you don’t want to do is the most effective way to develop and motivate people

 

■              “If someone else does it I’ll lose control and respect”
You’ll lose more control and more  respect by not devoting enough time to managing the whole business effectively because you are too wrapped up in the detail.

 

My new online leadership coaching programme is being launched in September.

For the full article on delegation go here.

Caroline Cooper


How long is the queue at your hotel reception?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about first and last impressions. Now that so much of the booking and travel plans are made on line the reception is often going to be the first and last direct contact your guests will have with a real person.

Any hotel guest will know that the busy times on reception are early evening for check in, and after breakfast for check out. And what impression do guests get left with? The queue, and waiting to get your room key; or even worse, waiting to part with your money. I have yet to work out why this happens in so many of the hotels I visit.

What can hotels do to reduce this?

Staffing

Firstly in both instances, the rush should not come as a surprise! So why are there never more staff on to deal with these peak times. I frequently see more people behind the front desk late morning when there is little guest facing activity, than there is during these busy periods. Receptionists’ hours should be based on accommodating these times, and if that means more staff then, and fewer at other times, so be it.

This does not mean that they can only work on reception; there are plenty of opportunities to combine roles so people work on reception for an hour before moving on to other areas of the hotel. Administration, staff meetings, accounts, or whatever else is happening back of house should come second to dealing with a guest who is ready to check in or out.

And then let the reception staff focus on checking in and checking out, and have others on hand to deal with non check in/out matters – answering the phone, giving guests directions, dealing with keys that don’t work, welcoming meeting and conference hosts and delegates.

Systems

99% of guests will already have made a reservation. So is there a system in place to ensure all the necessary paperwork is ready for their arrival? All that should be needed is a signature on the form and confirming payment details. Maybe guests would be more receptive to upsells if everything else is in order.

The same goes for check out. A guest’s bill should be ready at the point they arrival at reception. I know that express checkout has gone some way to alleviate some of the pressure during the morning rush. The problem with express checkout is that in most cases the guest has to wait for the receipt to be mailed on to them. This is no good if they need the receipt to claim their expenses, and the receipt is lying at home, whilst they are still away travelling, or the receipt takes 3 -4 days to reach them, and they have deadlines for expenses claims.

Your systems should also include preparing for the rush – is the printer well stocked with paper, someone else answering the phone, complicated invoices checked and dealt with by the person who knows the detail, for example.

Training

However good your systems they won’t work unless everyone is trained in how to use them, and everyone works as a team. This requires training, not only in the systems, but what to do when things go wrong – when the printer jams, when there is a query over the bill, when their credit card won’t go through. The more smoothly and confidently these can be dealt with the better for everyone.

Reception staff need daily briefings so they know what’s happening in the hotel that evening or that day. This gives a smoother operation, without having to waste time asking others, and if they know what’s happening, there may be a greater opportunity for upselling too.

Remember the check in and check out will leave a lasting impression for your guests. Make sure it is a good one.

Caroline Cooper

Staffing and training is one of the topics covered on the forthcoming Hoteliers Leadership Coachig Programme commencing in September. Register here for more information or to attend the launch tele seminar