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The hospitality industry is notorious for their staffs turn over which costs untold millions of dollars. Experienced employees are difficult to find, and even if hired, still require additional training to understand the inner workings of the procedures of each department in the property.
Managers often fail to understand that they must know each facet in every operation and then manage detail. After all, the success of each hospitality business depends on detail. In order to achieve any level of perfection, each manager must first learn, and then get subordinates to perform the task. There is always something new to learn if you want to implement a procedure. The business environment changes constantly as do the expectations of guests. What have been acceptable a year ago my not be so today. The challenge to learn new things daily and implement him or her in the operation is the responsibility of each manager. Technology changed needs and expectations. While only a few years ago running an operation was a relatively simple task, today’s managers must, in addition to all other tasks, be able to understand and manipulate electronic systems. The flow of information and intelligence accelerated due to such devices, and response time decreased accordingly. A guest expects a certain level of comfort and service based on the category of establishment. In many instances, imagers and all employees must anticipate needs and deliver them before the guests asks, This requires not only experience but also an innate sense of service and study of human behaviour.
Good management goes beyond technically achieving objectives by co-ordinating human resources with materials to produce profits. Leadership requires a thorough knowledge of the job, extreme commitment to duty, interpersonal skills, delegation of responsibilities, anticipating change(s), and ability to deal with stress on individuals and its ill effects. Hospitality employees are particularly exposed to stress, as there is no formula or set workflow to serve a guest. They are in constant, direct contact with guests whose needs; wants, moods and demands change from minute to minute.
Successful operations have an informal mentoring system. Experienced managers take potential managerial “material” under their wings and guide them to techniques “reserved” for privileged managers. They spend time with their understudies and impart information on how to speak with important business partners, how to present themselves, how to behave in formal settings and the finer points of delivering an important proposal. They stress the importance of teamwork, the importance of structure, process, planning and human resources development. Processes must be based on solid criteria in an attempt to be able to deliver services if an important (key) employee is absent, or leaves unexpectedly, or even must be relieved of his/her duties.
Respected leaders know the importance of communication in daily management, planning and implementation of strategies. Leaders have visions, and it is ultimately a vision that drives an organization. A leader knows that a title looks on paper, and that a true leader makes the world believe in his/her beliefs and visions by making a guest feel at ease.
Looking at tomorrow
The best strategies, conceived by experts are doomed if improperly implemented. This is the Achilles’ heel of most large and medium-sized establishments. Only a few companies are able to implement strategy properly to yield expected results. The best strategies could be stymied in the absence of correct implementation and the right people. Experience shows that having the best team is no guarantee for success. Experienced and result-oriented managers give sufficient freedom to their workers to ensure continues evolutions and success. Experienced managers are all too aware that success comes through getting work accomplished by others. Those who insist on supervising every detail (micromanaging) will end up working unduly hard, and in the process frustrate co-workers.
Leaders know the value of giving subordinates freedom to think and accomplish work according to parameters. Organizations thrive or fall by people. Leaders must have their fingers on the pulse of the establishment all the time; this can be achieved through daily and frequent walks through the plant. Also, meetings with department managers must be held regularly to ensure a continuous flow of information up and down the chain of command. It must be understood by all that systems and procedures can aid performance, but only employees can drive it. All employees must commit their energy and creativity to ensure profitability of the operation. Leaders tend to have an uncanny ability to detect talent and are acutely aware of the importance of people’s needs and aspirations. They create a environment conducive to develop talent.
Leaders commit effort and resources to determine the correct level of freedom for talented employees to achieve their potential. Industries dependent on production lines can count on checks and balances, systems and procedures, through which the product passes before eventually reaching the end user. In the hotel and restaurant industry the end user contact is direct and frequent. In fact, often goods and services are produced on demand. The product must be customized for every individual. The entire product depends on people, not on pre-ordained models.
Employees must be trained to deliver seamless and consistent service. All must believe, regardless of their position, in the fact that they all involved in the production of all goods and services reaching the end user – the guest
The only practical; and feasible way to achieving this objective is by training employees in one-on-one interaction with guests. All must be trained to handle out-of-ordinary requests and/or situations. It is important to empower front line employees to make instant decisions if and when a dish fails to meet the expectations of a guest, or a bottle of wine is oxidized, or front office fails to deliver an important message on time.
The level of perfect service depends on the leadership of an establishment. Successful leaders believe that perfection is a moving target and can only be improved, never fully achieved.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu
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