Monthly Archives: November 2010

Setting Goals

In the A – Z of hospitality leadership G is for setting goals.

Do your team know what you expect and how you’ll measure this?

In the article on Communication I talked about the need to let people know what is expected of them, and how their contribution fits into the bigger picture.

So how does this translate into day to day leadership?

It means communicating your longer term goals; what do you want to achieve over the next 5 – 10 years?  Then break this down into goals or objectives for the year ahead, for the business as a whole, for the departments, and on an individual level.

This enables your team to know what they are each responsible for. And when everyone achieves all their goals the department as a whole should achieve their goals. This seems obvious, but it’s surprising how many businesses don’t make this connection!

These goals need to include some KPIs or metrics. Most of us are familiar with SMART goals, which are a good starting point.

Here SMART goals are explained; however I’ve added in a few more criteria to make goals that bit more robust and more likely to be achieved.


Join me on my recent tele seminar where I share the answers to the questions I’m asked most often by my leadership coaching clients.

F is for Feedback

In the A-Z of hospitality leadership F is for Feedback

The giving and receiving of feedback is probably one of the most vital skills in management.

According to Ken Blanchard

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”

People need to know how they are doing in order know what to keep doing and what needs improving, and how.  For many employees it is a case of ‘No new is good news’, as they only get to hear if things go wrong.  Feedback is not only key for improving and perfecting performance, but – done in a constructive way – is highly motivational. Let’s face it; if you were doing something that constituted poor performance, was annoying, or let others down wouldn’t you like to know? And equally if you were doing something really well that made a difference to others and to the business, wouldn’t you like to know it was recognised?

Feedback starts with the impromptu “thank you, well done” but that on its own does not tell people enough to sustain or improve performance. To be effective feedback must let people know what specifically was good or bad, what difference it made and how it can be built upon or improved.
One way to do this is by using a very simple model:



When giving feedback, particularly on poor performance, it’s useful to know what you are benchmarking this against. If people don’t know what is expected of them, it is very easy to get defensive.  So establish the standards you expect and communicate these.  You may not always need to refer to these during the feedback process, but be mindful of these as you give the feedback.


What is the action they performed?  Emphasis is on their actions, not on your interpretation of it.  So you are feeding back what you observed or heard, not on their intentions, their personality or their character.  Limit the number of actions you comment on a level they can handle – far better to give feedback on one key action that they can digest and build on to make a difference, than ten things which leaves the message diluted (and invariably leaves them demotivated).  Because this is based on fact it is less likely to be challenged. Link back to the standard if necessary to highlight where people have exceeded or fallen short.


What impact did their actions have on the result?  This can include positive or negative impact on the end result, or on the process itself e.g. the amount of effort needed on their part to achieve the result, or the impact on others, etc.  When giving praise it is so easy to say to someone ‘that was really good, well done’ without saying why it was good or what made the difference this time compared with previous occasions.


How can they build on this for the future?  Remember, the purpose of feedback is to enhance performance and motivate.  So this last stage is important to determine what happens next e.g. develop to make it even better next time around, to correct a mistake or to perfect a process.  Put the emphasis on what is missing rather than what is wrong – building on strengths or positives is far more likely to engender enthusiasm. Using open questions, ask the individual how they think things can be developed or built upon.  This will help to gain buy in and you may be surprised by the options they suggest.

Here are the three key situations for giving feedback within the workplace.

1.    When all is going well – feedback and praise.
2.    Mixed performance – feedback mixed with positive and corrective action.
3.    When all is not well – feedback to address under-performance.

This model works equally well in all three.

Feedback is most effective when it is given as soon after the event as you can. But sometimes you may be better off delaying until the need of the shift or day. Take into whether the timing is appropriate for the individual to take on it board (e.g. avoid times when they are under tight time pressures, or about to start something for which they need total focus).  Consider your mood, e.g. if you are annoyed at seeing poor performance do you need time to cool off.  Do you need to wait until you can take them away from their workplace for privacy; as a general rule praise in public, reprimand in private.

Consider your motives before giving feedback i.e. what do you want the end result to be? Be prepared for their reaction, and how you will respond. But be direct, don’t sugar coat the message so it gets lost. Give praise where it is due, but when it’s not, make it clear that you need to see improvements or changes Preserve the other person’s self esteem by delivering bad news in a non-critical way, and concentrate on your pitch and tone so that valuable information is not seen as a complaint, criticism, whinge or nag.

Given in a constructive way feedback can not only improve performance but can raise morale, build rapport and promote initiative.  It also opens the door for your team to provide you with some feedback too.

More on feedback in Leading for Peak Performance. Find out more here.

Where do we draw the line in asking for TripAdvisor reviews?

I’ve just received an email from a hotel in the US where I stayed on business 4 years ago. I have to take my hat off to them for keeping me on their mailing list. Their approach is very effective at keeping themselves on my radar, reminding me of the pleasant stay I had there, and building the guest relationship. If I was ever returning to that city I would certainly stay there again or recommend it to others. And as I have regular contact from them this would be easy to do as I’d not need to go back on 4 years’ worth of business cards to find their contact details, thus making the referral process easy.

But today’s message had something in it I’m not so sure about. As well as offering a discount on a return visit, they are also offering to take $20 off my bill for any future reservations if I post a favourable review on TripAdvisor. Whilst I agree with encouraging guests to write reviews, is it ethical to give financial reward? Where should we draw the line?

What do people think?

Social media is one of the topics covered in Caroline’s interview series How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge.

Create scarcity and urgency

You might now be planning ahead to January and thinking about how you are going to bring in business in your quiet months. But this is probably the last thing on your customers’ minds at the moment. So what can you do to prompt a booking now rather than them leaving things to the last minute?

You can increase the likelihood of an immediate booking by creating a sense of scarcity or urgency in your messages.

For example:

To create scarcity:

  • Limit an offer to the first 10 customers who book
  • State the maximum number of people you can accommodate for a particular event
  • Let people know when you only have three rooms left for a popular date.

To create a sense of urgency:

  • Introduce bonuses for early bookings (opposed to discounts)
  • Impose a deadline and stick to it. The shorter the time frames, the better to prompt action. (But do ensure that you’re confident about the timing; you’ll shoot yourself in the foot if your offer goes out after the deadline has passed.)
  • Make sure all offers that have expired are no longer available on your website or to book. However, you can show the offer on your website but as ‘no longer available’ or ‘fully booked’. This reminds people to be quick next time an offer like this comes along! That way the offer carries on working even after it’s expired.

Adopt a mentality that your customers should be rewarded for booking early, (in the same way the airlines do), rather than rewarding those who leave things till the last minute with late deals.

Get more help and step by step tutorials for planning promotions with the 21 lessons in Running a Profitable Hotel Promotion.

E is for Empathy

In the A- Z of leadership E is Empathy. Putting yourself in another’s shoes.


Empathy is really understanding the other person’s perspective, position and feelings. It is the ability to ‘step back’, and achieve a detachment from our own emotions, and is essential for building trust, rapport and effective relationships.

It involves listening and understanding – not necessarily agreeing (which is different) – to the other person. Listening without judging.

As a minimum a good leader asks open questions to encourage and understand the views, feelings and attitudes of others, and reflects back to show they understand or to clarify. But a good leader will do this without being judgemental of others’ views even if these conflict with their own, and will be open to differences in opinions and perspectives.


Empathy goes beyond what is said, it is also demonstrated via your tone and body language. A critical or sarcastic tone will not encourage someone to share their views; neither will raised eyebrows, scowling or defensive body language.


Active listening is key, show your interest, ask probing questions (in a non-judgemental way) to ensure understanding. Aim to understand how the other person feels, why they see things as they see things as they do (so bring out any underlying assumptions) and to discover what they want to achieve.


Seek first to understand’ is one of the seven habits described by Stephen Covey in ‘The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People


Ask for feedback on your own behaviour so you can use this information to strengthen your relationships with your team. Be open with your own feelings and views too to enable your team to see things from your perspective, and by sharing your views you will encourage others to do the same.

Aim to develop a culture of trust and openness where your team can speak out knowing they will be heard and without fear of criticism.

Why is empathy important?

  • When you understand others’ perspectives it can help in the way you sell ideas to them and gain buy in (as well as the way you sell to customers and suppliers).
  • If people know they are listen to it helps to build trust between you and your team
  • It creates a more open and honest environment where you will get to hear of issues and concerns before they become a problem
  • Your team feel able to state their true ideas, feelings and beliefs maximising their contribution.
  • Empathy is also important in dealing with guests and customers, so demonstrating the skill with our teams will act as a role model


Building relationships with your team is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will is covered in detail in my new Leading for Peak Performance programme,

D is for Development

In the A-Z of hospitality leadership D is for Development


One question to ask yourself is “Could I honestly say I am tapping into 100% of the potential of my team?” If the answer to this is no, what do you need to be doing to tap into that potential?


We need to be able to develop people to be the best that they can. This gets buy in, it helps contribute to the business, and boosts their confidence, which means they are going to do a better job ultimately. The industry has loads of examples of people who have moved up through the ranks. So give people that opportunity. When you see somebody’s strengths in a particular area, think about how you can tap into that, how you can develop them.


Not everyone will want to ever have any more responsibility, or to be doing anything different from what they are doing now, but development is not just about promotion. Even for the people who are very content with the job that they are doing, is there an opportunity to develop their role just to make it that little bit more interesting for them. If they have been doing the same job for three or four years, and doing it in the same way all of that time, don’t you think they might welcome just a little bit of change in the way that they do it or what they do. Plus it give you some flexibility within the team and promotes teamwork if people understand each other responsibilities.


So identify your objective. Is it because you want to give that person an opportunity to develop their skills to move on? And, maybe, ultimately leave your hotel to work somewhere else, because they outgrow the job. Believe me, if they think they are better than the job, they will move in any case. So, at least this way they can move on knowing that you did everything to help their career and help their development. And that’s going to be a great advertisement when bringing in people to replace them; or help bring on people in more junior positions to replace that person.


Identify your objectives for that person’s development in terms of how it brings them on to do a better job where you are. What is it that you would like them to do that little bit better? Or what role might be the next logical step for them? What role might suit them ultimately? Have clear objectives and identify how it is going to contribute to the business or develop that individual.


Consider the range of options there are for developing that person, and what might suit both the topic and the individual’s learning styles. Development is not just putting someone on a training course. It could be assigning a mentor, working in other departments, shadowing others, setting them practical assignments e.g. setting up a promotion, working on a particular sales drive, reviewing rosters, improving standards within the business. Ensure they can see how it contributes to the bigger picture, and it does not get in the way of them achieving their core responsibilities and KPIs.

Involving people in day to day decision making can also help stretch them. When they ask for guidance and decisions rather than giving them all the answers, bounce it back to them and ask for their views. Involve them in decisions by asking for their views; to analyse the pros and cons of different options, and put forward their recommendations.


Development activity needs to be structured in such a way it allows the employee to learn rather than being thrown in at the deep end. If they are thrown in at the deep end they are probably not going to learn anything; in fact the opposite; it could shatter any confidence they had in the first place.


So take time to sit down with each of your team and plan their development to build on their strengths and stretch them. Identify their long-term aspirations, where do they think they can be contributing more, what they enjoy, what else they’d like to get involved with, how they would approach things differently. People will generally put more effort into the things they enjoy, and consequently make a better job. And generally the better people are at things, the more they enjoy them.


Failure to develop your team is such a waste, and the chances are that if you ignore their full potential they will go and utilise it somewhere else.