Give constructive feedback -what have they done well and how it has contributed; where they have fallen short and how this can be improved.
Communication is a two-way process, not only do people need to know what’s going on, they want to be heard. Daily briefings need to include what’s happening that could affect the operation or the customer experience in any way (e.g. maintenance, staff shortages, unavailable products or services), as well as any feedback from staff on their observations or ideas. Let your team know how the business is performing, and what this means to them.
Having a happy and motivated team will not only help you retain your talent and reduce staff turnover, but will lead to better productivity and customer service, maintaining sales and controlling costs.
If you want to retain your best people you need to give them what they want.
We may not want to admit it, but you or your management team may be the reason that people leave. Rather than hide your head in the sand, 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 before others decide to jump ship.
How much direction do you provide? Do people know exactly what’s expected of them, and have the tools, time and resources to deliver? Lead by example so there are no mixed messages.
Ensure that you and your management team are approachable. Provide support when it’s needed, and be receptive to when this is required. Not everyone will be confident enough to ask for help. Consult staff and listen to their ideas; they may be able to offer better ways of doing things.
Take time to talk to staff to build relationships and show an interest in them as individuals. Listen to and act quickly on any concerns. Identify what’s important to them recognising that with the varied cultures and backgrounds of your staff that their values and priorities may sometimes be different to your own.
In the final part tomorrow will discuss the impact good communication with your team.
I’ve worked with a number of businesses recently who have had to make cuts and changes. This makes people uncomfortable, and so when another opportunity comes along, they jump at the chance if they feel it has better long term security.
Communicate any changes that are happening in the business before they happen, and how this might affect them.
Set standards so that people know what’s expected of them, and can measure their own performance, and not left in doubt about their contribution. Be consistent, ensuring the same ‘rules’ apply to everyone. Focus on telling people what you want to achieve, i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it. This gives people flexibility to adopt their own style (you’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process) rather than living in fear of not being able to comply with strict processes. And make sure you provide the appropriate tools, resources and training to do the job effectively.
Training your staff in the mechanics of the business operation puts them in a better position to contribute to cost control and income generation. If people understand how the business makes its money they are then in a position to contribute to this and put forward their own ideas. A win-win for both.
Tomorrow we’ll look at whether you or your management team may be the reason that people leave your hotel.
When staff leave, if the reason they give is more money look to see how your rates compare with the competition (bearing in mind for some roles your competitor for staff may be in totally different industries). 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.
What about the less tangible aspects of their package. Recognise and reward performance and achievements. Celebrate and share successes; identify and utilise people strengths, training, delegating and giving them control and ownership where appropriate. Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, e.g. housekeeping is often the most undervalued department, but is commonly the most profitable aspect of a hotel.
Encourage and reward loyalty by conducting regular pay/benefits reviews. Think about incentives that are within reach of any member of staff who performs well. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has an opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills or strengths.
Career and prospects
If they’re moving for career progression, is this something that you could have 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?
Grow from within where possible, and give people the opportunity for career progression as well is enhancing the skills to do their existing job. Think also about life skills; for example offering English lessons. And make use of the training grants available through the tourist organisations, colleges, and government-funded schemes.
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, be careful you don’t make promises that you are unable to keep.
Make training a part of day-to-day management, so it’s not seen as something that is additional or optional. This goes for both staff and supervisors/managers. Identify those who have an interest in developing their CV and are willing to take on training responsibilities as part of their own development.
Tomorrow will look at the impact of changes in your hotel business and how to minimise the disruption this brings.
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, so are we just deluding ourselves if we think we can beat that trend? Well maybe there are a few things we can all be doing to tip the balance in our favour.
Each day this week I’ll be posting steps you can take to hang on to your hotel’s talent.
Why do they quit?
Staff turnover can be infectious, the more people come and go, the easier it is for others to make the decision to leave. Unless we understand why staff leave it’s unlikely we’ll 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. Let’s face it, if the reason is it’s poor management or leadership that has prompted the move, it’s unlikely that you’re going to learn the whole 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 as much as possible about people’s motives for leaving.
Tomorrow we look at how we can use recognition and reward, and career prospects to help retain our best people.
While I was in one of our local supermarkets yesterday I asked a member of staff where I could find peanuts. I’d already been to the aisle clearly marked ‘Salted Nuts’ but not a nut in sight, nor a member of staff. So by the time I found this staff member I was already getting frustrated.
“I’m off duty” was the rather curt reply I got. “Oh. I’m sorry, well could you at least tell me where I can find someone to ask?” Big sigh…..”You’ll have to go to customer services”. Needless to say Customer Services was at the opposite end of the store!
The fact that this member of staff was in her uniform – to me, she represented the company – on or off duty. As a customer I will not distinguish the difference.
So what do your staff say about your brand when they are off duty?
How do they behave on their way to and from work, or at any time when they might be identifiable as one of your team?
What impression do they give when coming into and out of work? E.g. how they drive, the cleanliness of their car, etc?
How welcoming, approachable or helpful are they towards your guests even when off duty?
How much responsibility do they take for things that need attention even if this isn’t their job e.g. attending to a guest if they need help?
What are they saying about you or your guests in the staff room?
Where do they go on their breaks, and what impression do they give if visible (e.g. smoking by the back door)
What are they saying when within earshot of your guests; either to each other or on the phone?
What are they saying about you or your customers on social media?
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.
Be as SPECIFIC as possible. What will they see, hear or feel when the goal is achieved. The more vivid the image the more powerful it will be. Can you easily explain it to someone else? I want you to increase sales is not specific; how much more sales, in areas, at what profit margin, by what date……?
As well as being specific, the goals you set must be STRETCHING. Is the goal something that will get the business further forward, but still provide an element of challenge?
Goals must be MEASUREABLE so you can all quantify their progress and track it. What MILESTONES will you set?
Any goal you set must be MOTIVATIONAL too – What will achieving their goal get them? How well does it fit in with their values and what’s important to them? Does it inspire them? Will it give them a sense of accomplishment on achievement? If not, then the chances of them achieving it are slim!
Getting a balance between being stretching and motivational and at the same time being ACHIEVABLE is key. Unobtainable goals will have a negative impact. But it is important that they are ACTIONABLE by them, not dependent on others’ actions out of their control.
It is also important that the goals you set are AGREED with the individual. If they don’t agree with the goal, maybe because they think it’s unachievable, or not part of their job you will get reluctance and the goal will be put to the bottom of their priority list.
How RELEVANT are the goals to them, their role and the business as a whole? A goal that is incompatible will mean inevitably that something will have to give.
Once you are both happy with their goals ensure you RECORD them. Then keep the goals as a focus of your review process. If they are working on things which do not contribute to their goals ask why.
When wording your goals specify what you are moving TOWARDS rather than what you want to avoid. Our brains find it difficult to process negatives, so by concentrating too much on what you want to avoid actually focuses the brain on this rather than what you want instead. So, for example, if a goal is to reduce complaints, focus on the reaction you want to get from your guests instead.
Finally, goals must be TRACKABLE (including TIMESCALES) so you can review at any time how well your team are on track. We all know the results of leaving everything to the last minute, so set some specific timescales when you’ll review progress, and schedule these into your diaries.
In the A-Z of Hospitality Leadership C is for Communication
This is probably one of the areas that gets most criticism from staff of their managers and organisations as a whole. People hate being left in the dark.
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.
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 through daily briefings and regular team meetings. They need a forum to put forward and share their ideas and receive updates on the business performance as a whole.
The value of regular one to ones should never be underestimated and provide an opportunity for feedback on how they are doing, and to let them know their contribution is important and valued. These should be two way, provide an opportunity to ask for help if needed or for talking about their on going development.
And finally 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, or change is imminent.
Communicating throughout any change is vital. Few people like change when it could have an impact on the status quo, or threatens the security of their job. Introducing new equipment could give rise to concerns over how well they may pick up the new procedures or even that it might do them out of a job; changes in management or ownership could make people nervous over the future of the business. So whatever changes are afoot tell your team what you can; what it means to the business, and to them as a team or individually, and how it will impact on their jobs.
If you don’t give people the facts, they’ll soon make it up!
Communicating with your team is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in Leading for Peak Performance Foundations of Leadership Programme
In the A-Z of hospitality leadership B is for Buy in
How often have you been told to get on with a task with no idea why you should do it and therefore either carried out the task, but to the minimum standard, or worse still simply avoided it altogether?
At the very least for staff to do anything with any degree of commitment they need to understand the reasons why – why does sit need doing in the first place and why them. Identify reasons or benefits that are personal to them, not just how it helps the business.
Better still ask for their input in what needs to be done or in the way it has to be done. You might be thinking “well if it is a new law or company policy it wont be open to discussion”. True, what has to be achieved may not be open to discussion, but the way it is achieved might well be.
Let’s say you have a new piece of health and safety legislation to introduce. It’s the law, so it is not negotiable. But because it is the law, all the more reason why you cant have people deciding to ignore it. You need that buy in. Threats might work, but not very effectively.
What is negotiable is the way it can be achieved. By asking for people’s ideas, recognising their experience and knowing the work better than e=anyone, they will often come up with the best way to implement something that on the face of it is just extra workload. The greater the level of involvement in the process and decision-making; the greater the level of buy in.
And if they come away thinking it was their idea, the more likely you are to see it done with some degree of enthusiasm, commitment or pride.
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.