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November 1, 2013 / BSP Marketing

Five Tips for Managing Your Team In the Hospitality Industry

Five Tips for Managing Your TeamIn Marvel’s hit movie The Avengers, a group of superheroes come together to save the world. Their journey together is not without its difficulties, and it takes time for them to learn to work together. However, eventually they fall in line, understanding their distinctive roles and overall purpose to win the day.

It is a great popcorn flick, but what does it have to do with managing a hotel? A lot more than you might imagine. After all, a hotel may have a single manager, but it is operated by an entire team of people. No matter how good or talented any individual member may be, if they cannot work constructively as part of the team, then they are ineffective. Ineffective employees are not only more likely to be frustrated or bored, but they are less likely to build a successful hotel. The quality of a hotel is intimately tied to the quality of the team. In essence, for a manager to lead a successful hotel, they must start by leading a successful team.

Many teams require time, persistence and leadership. This is the most important job for a manager. To get started on improving your team, consider the five following tips.

1. An overall direction. Imagine that a teacher tells students to write a paper about the summer. Some students plan an in-depth APA research paper about the environmental changes that occur. Others write a wonderfully creative story about a summer vacation, complete with dialogue and chapters. There would also be students who write a few paragraphs about what they did last summer.

Which students are right? It is impossible to say because the initial directions lacked clarity. The teacher may have expected a certain type of paper, but there is no room to complain when the directions were not clear enough to dictate certain results.

Unfortunately, this is often what happens in hotels. Managers will share vague business plans, which often sound great but rarely provide clear guidance as to what comes next. For example, telling employees to improve relationships with customers sounds great. However, such an order can be interpreted in many different ways. Some employees may engage in more chitchat; others may provide more hands on services. Others still may pay extra attention to cleaning and response time. These disparities can lead to confusion, stagnation and hurt feelings.

To avoid these problems, it is important to provide clarity to employees. Instead of vague goals like improving relationships with guests, try to create actual goals about increased feedback on travel websites or better guest retention. These palpable goals give everyone a clear sense of focus. Be sure every employee hears, reads and remembers these goals to attain success.

2. Individual direction. Once a general goal is clearly established, it is important to give each person their individual goal. This is the entire purpose of a team. Every person should be working toward the same goal by doing something unique. It is not enough to assume that every person will fall into their role. These roles should be assigned based on the experience, skills and knowledge of each employee.

Just think about what would happen without such clear delegation. Two employees might focus on the same task, leaving other important tasks entirely neglected. Everyone should know exactly what is expected of them and how that expectation fits into the bigger picture. Essentially, every employee should know what to do and why it is important.

To do this, be sure every employee receives an individualized sheet of objectives, including deliverable goals for the short and long-term. Employees should know what they are supposed to do, how they are supposed to do it and when they are supposed to get things done. This gives employees the power they need to do their job, which helps ensure that the overall goals are being met.

3. Measurements of success. Imagine shooting a bow and arrow. If you want to see how accurate your shots are, you need to have a target. Without a target, there is no way to measure your success. If you cannot measure your success, you cannot be sure if you have succeeded or not.

This is even more true for hotels. Every employee, just like every business, needs to have measurable goals to attain. Employees should know the measures by which they will be judged. Managers should know the standards by which they will gauge overall success of the hotel. Even when a clear goal is established, if there is no way to measure it, then it is almost impossible to complete.

For employees, measurable goals may be increased sales, better reviews from guests, improved turnaround time and more. For the hotel, goals might include a certain number of guests, a total sales projection or improved online feedback.

Clear standards are not only the best way to guarantee that a hotel succeeds, they are also great ways to keep employees honest and motivated. It is like shooting an arrow at a target. If you can see how close you are to hitting the center, then you are more motivated to keep shooting straight.

4. Transparency. Simon and Garfunkel had a hit song called “I Am a Rock.” The chorus was a resounding ode to self-reliance, ultimately concluding that it is better to be alone because a rock feels no pain.

Rocks may feel no pain, but they also never get very far. No one should be an isolated rock in the hotel business. The entire idea of the hospitality industry relies on working with other people! This is not just true between employees and customers but amongst employees themselves.

While it is essential for every player to know their part and know it well, it is equally important that they know what everyone else is doing as well. There should be complete transparency in a team. This not only reduces redundancy and improves efficiency, but it can help eliminate conflict, confusion and hurt feelings. After all, when employees do not have a strong sense of what everyone else is doing, they are left to speculate and gossip. It is too easy for such mystery to create resentment and cliques. It is important to remember that each individual player ultimately needs to feel like a team in order to operate like a team.

5. Open communication. There is a game called telephone. In the game, one person whispers something to another person. This person whispers what they heard to another person. This process continues down the line of people. At the end, the last person says what they heard. Usually, the end result is nothing like the start.

This type of communication is amusing in a game, but it is problematic when running a hotel. Every employee needs to be included in the line of communication. However, more importantly, the lines of communication should always be open and run in two directions. Every employee should listen; every employee should have a voice. The more people talk about what they are doing and why, the more likely the team is to stay on track and remain cooperative.

Communication can prevent mistakes and conflicts. It can improve productivity and morale. This means a manager should always be talking to his or her staff. On top of that, a manager should always be listening. In fact, great managers take it a step further and invite feedback. Some may even set up situations in which communication is structured, encouraged and validated.

With these five tips, it is possible for any manager to transform their team and their hotel. It may seem like a lot, but managers should always remember that they are responsible for the quality of their team. Put in the effort, and you will undoubtedly reap the benefits.

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