Tag Archives: Leadership & Management

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,


The A to Z of hospitality leadership ~ A is for Attitude

Welcome to the first in my A-Z series of hospitality leadership.

A is for attitude. Your attitude.

 

It’s easy to criticise our staff’s attitude, their enthusiasm for the job, the way they support their colleagues, how they talk to your customers. But how much of this stems from the example you set?

Attitude is one of those things it’s sometimes a little difficult to quantify. What we can quantify are the behaviours – what people see or hear – that suggest our attitude.

So to give an example:  You have to announce a change in some internal systems that may not be well received because they involve a little extra work for everyone, including you. The tone of your message – what you say and how you say it – focuses on the negatives and uses words and phrases that emphasise the extra work involved, but make no mention of the benefits and the reasons why. You also stress that you are also being affected. This could easily infer that you have a negative attitude to the changes.  Net result? They will too. Conversely if you focused on the benefits these changes bring and your confidence in the team that they can deliver your attitude will be perceived as being positive.

Your attitude is conveyed in all that you do – how you interact with guest (and what you say about them behind closed doors), your support for management decisions, the enthusiasm at which you approach challenges, how receptive you are the staffs’ ideas and suggestions, even down to your personal organisation and personal presentation.

Always ask yourself – what attitude am I conveying , and is the example I should be stetting for the team?

Involving your team in problem solving is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my tele seminar: Leading for Peak Performance on 19th October.


Dealing with poor performance ~ Part 4

Eliminate the gap

We said that the goal is to improve performance or prevent this happening again. This requires buy in and commitment from the other person. In order to change, there needs to be some incentive. The fear of the disciplinary process may be enough, but it is hardly motivating! Nor is it any guarantee of a change in behaviour.

Understanding the reasons enables us the come up with options, and to gain buy in we need to ask the employee for their ideas on how to improve. Sometimes a simple “don’t do it again” is all that is needed, but it may not be as simple as this.

For example if the issue is poor timekeeping, but the reason is there is no bus that gets them into work in time for the start of their shift, the problem wont just go away – can we change their shift times? Is there someone who passes who could give them a lift? Or they may be a carer or their partner / child is ill and cannot leave home until the nurse or help arrives.

Of course the problem may be down to a flagrant disregard of the rules, in which case you must first help the employee to understand the impact of their behaviour.  Homing in on the effect it has on his or her team mates, of the impact on guests, or the business may not be enough to get buy in. Focus on something that is important to this individual employee. An example might be making their job easier, being able to finish their shift on time, getting cooperation from their team mates, the opportunity to be considered for other roles, etc. The conversation needs to be tailored to suit the individual’s motivators.

Agree on an improvement plan.  This will involve gaining their commitment to improve, and may require some help from you or other members of the team.  Then agree how and when it will be monitored, as well as any consequences if there is no improvement.

Finally show your support and encouragement. If you suggest or imply they can’t or won’t improve it generally becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Managing poor performance is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme Leading for Peak Performance which is being launched in late September.


Dealing with poor performance ~ Part 3

Examine the reasons for the gap

The only way to do this is to get the employee to talk the situation through by asking open-ended questions, and by listening.

There may be a number of legitimate reasons why someone has not performed to standard.  Lack of resources, time pressures, insufficient training, bottlenecks in the system, mixed messages in terms of expectations, for example. (See my earlier article “Bad workmen or poor tools?“).

Everyone has a right to a fair hearing.  However do be prepared for the excuses – “well Fred does it all the time and gets away with it”, or “I don’t see why that’s a problem”, “No one’s ever told me that I had to do that”. Is this a genuine disciplinary problem or an indication that help is required? These last two responses suggest that some more explanation or training is needed, and you may need to draw a line in the sand and set out your expectations for the future.

Also consider if the problem is down to relationships, to get attention, a grievance, or a clash of personalities.

Only by really understanding the reasons are we in a position to turn the situation around or prevent a reoccurrence. Tomorrow we’ll look at how to eliminate the performance gap.

 

Managing poor performance is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme Leading for Peak Performance which is being launched in late September.


Dealing with poor performance ~ Part 2

Establish the Gap

What is it they have done or failed to do? How does this compare with the standard or rules? What is the impact (actual or potential) of their actions? We should be focusing on actual behaviours – what we have seen or heard first hand.

It’s very easy to haul someone into the office to take them up on something you’ve been told by someone else, only to have them deny their actions. So gather facts (opposed to hearsay, and others’ perceptions and opinions). Be prepared to give specific examples, the more recent the better – so don’t start dragging up something they did or said two months ago.

Avoid making judgments about their attitude or personality e.g. “I don’t like your attitude”, or “you are very arrogant”.  What have you seen or heard them do that has led you to that conclusion? Is there a genuine shortfall in standards of performance?

By focusing on their actions and behaviours you are less likely to get a defensive response and it is easier for people to identify what they need to change.

Tomorrfow we’ll go on to look at eliminating the gap.

Managing poor performance is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme Leading for Peak Performance which is being launched in late September.


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 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


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.