Tag Archives: Leadership

Power to the People

I’ve just returned from speaking at the Hospitality.next conference in Athens.freedom - empowerment

In my presentation I shared my 7 low-cost strategies to wow customers and keep them coming back for more.

I asked the audience for their feedback on which of the 7 strategies they felt they need to focus on most to improve their customers’ experience.

Nearly a third (32% to be precise) said that devoting more time and effort to inspiring and engaging their team would add the most value.

This reflects the findings of a recent study by Gallup that indicated 63% of employees worldwide are “not engaged”. And in the UK they reported that 26% of employees are actively disengaged, meaning they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity.

Imagine what impact that can have on customers.

Of course there are many ways to engage your team but during my presentation I homed in specifically on empowering teams.

This naturally starts with recruiting the right people (focusing on attitude above aptitude), then letting them know upfront exactly what’s expected of them – sharing your customer service values giving them the knowledge, skills, resources and confidence to deliver this.

Once you’ve all that in place here are 7 ways you can empower your team so they are able to give their best when it comes to delivering a great customer experience:

1. Personal suggestions

Involve your team in discussions and decision-making. After all, many of them will spend more time with customers than you do and often spot things or hear things you might miss.

So ask for their suggestions, what do they think will work, what won’t work, what will customers love?

But once you’ve asked their opinion be sure to be prepared to listen. Even if you’ve tried something before and it hasn’t worked that doesn’t mean to say it’s not a good idea. Quash their ideas early on and they’ll be reluctant to come forward with suggestions in future.

2. License to do what’s best

You can’t be there 24/7. Trust your team to make decisions to do what’s best in a given situation. If they truly understand your customer service values and what’s of most importance generally they’ll work out the best route to get there.

This is particularly so when things go wrong or when something out of the ordinary happens. Expecting team members to seek your approval or get sign off every time is time wasting for you, demeaning for your team and at best frustrating for your customer.

3. Anticipate (what if…)

Equip your team to deal with the unexpected. In any business there are times when things don’t go according to plan or mishaps happen. The more you can anticipate these and train your team in how to handle such situations the more confident they’ll be, and the likely they’ll deal smoothly with anything that gets thrown at them.

Your goal is always to minimise the negative impact on the customer experience.

4. Ownership

Give individual team members ownership over particular tasks. This gives a sense of pride and ownership.

And with ownership comes the desire to get things right.

When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise. This can take the pressure off you as this person then becomes the go to person instead of you.

5. Keep informed

Keep your team up to date with what’s happening in your business so they don’t look stupid in front customers.

This not only includes up-to-date product knowledge but what else is happening in your industry, with your competitors, in the press; what’s happened or going to happen in your business on a day-to-day basis, customers you’re expecting to call or visit today; anything happening in your business, your location, or industry that could have an impact on customers; what’s available, what is not available, limited availability, where might there be delays in deliveries or work schedules.

A knowledgeable team not only gives them confidence, it enables them to make decisions, offer suggestions and most importantly help build trust with your customers.

6. Personal development

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean to say they don’t want to be stretched or given opportunities for new challenges. Add variety so they don’t become stagnant; a bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers!

Give them exposure to other aspects of your business and opportunity to experience different tasks which all leads to better understanding of your business as a whole and in turn creates confidence- for your team and your customers.

7. Continuous improvement

Create a culture of continuous improvement. Challenge your team members to come forward with suggestions on how things can be improved, not just for the customer but to make their lives easier too.

Shaving 5 minutes off a task in one area can free up 5 more minutes to spend caring for customers elsewhere. .

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So how well do you fare in these 7 areas? Do your people have power and the opportunity to enhance your customers’ experience?

If you’d like help on any of these I’d love to see how I can assist.


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.