As I am talking to hospitality leaders (and employees) and listening to the same comments of "Things don't work, we need to change", I wonder, and the picture of a horse tied to a plastic chair pops into my mind. Hold on! It is YOU who can make that change. You are the GM, and the problems we are all complaining about don't require divine intervention; only a leader with the desire to solve those problems and the courage to act. It is really that simple.
So what are those BIG problems that employees want to address, but GMs feel it is beyond them waiting for a companywide overhaul from the corporate office?
- Long working hours - It is not the corporate's job to regulate the working hours on your property. You must ensure that your employees are not used and abused, and you have enough resources.
- Simplification of processes & modernisation of policies - You can change any internal process and policy to make people's lives easier. It is a piece of paper written by your predecessor, and evolution theory requires you to update it in line with changing circumstances and needs. So what are you waiting for?
- Old school mindset - If you wondered why we still follow 40-year-old practices, rules, or policies, wonder no longer. You have not created an environment where your team looks around and asks, "How can we do this differently? What does make sense today?" Yes, I know. Your previous bosses ran a morning briefing every day just to be seen with no valuable input or outcome. So you do the same. Do we really need to? No! Business as usual, so there is no need for the morning huddle to read the night report together and listen to Jonny, the engineer, that the toilet is broken in room 456. Stop wasting people's time with nonsense briefings, meetings, and committees.
- Poor management and leadership - Well, this one is really on you! You set the bar for behaviour and competence on your property. You must provide guidance and discipline. If your staff complains about poor management, you need to address that. And not by saying, "Oh, you know how he/she is, but he/she gets the job done." That is poor and shows your priority: getting the job done or generating money over people's welfare. It is on you if your leaders are unethical, dishonest and incompetent. It is also your fault if you don't know or ignore that. Wilful blindness is on you.
- Development of people - Waiting for corporate to train and develop your people is a passive approach to people development. It is you who is in charge of their development, and this is where you should be spending 50% of your time. Yes, you heard it right. You do that and expect them to do the same with their teams. The development of your people is done in many ways. You might do that using internal and external resources, but the main component is you. Time and coaching attention with you to develop that person. Not meetings! Not a 1:1 update on what has been done or on the business! The aim is development and growth. And no, a sudden promotion won't cut it. That is not development. Promotion without preparation is a setup for likely failure in the future. Maybe the failure won't happen now, but in five years, when the person has capped his/her potential and is stuck in that role for good, blocking the talent pipeline and sending new talent to the competition.
- Lack of talent - We don't have a talent shortage. We have talent blindness and an environment created by the leadership - that you are in charge of - that is not hospitable for the talent to stay and grow. If you have an incompetent management team or a type that is focused on task completion instead of creating an environment where people can succeed, no matter how many talents are out there or joining your hotel, they all will be gone.
And before you say "yes, but", I tell you that I know GMs who don't get caught up in the victimhood and the waiting game. They grab the bull by the horn and do all the above themselves. They know that waiting for help is useless because no help is coming. They understand that this is why they were hired. To make things happen, and not just finance-wise. They are the ones who say, "This is my hotel, and stupid corporate will not tell me how to run it." I love those guys because they show passion and ownership (as opposed to the "let's wait for instructions" guys). They are the ones who say, "Those corporate programs or processes don't suit my needs, and I'll find other ways of doing them, whether it is recruitment, increasing topline performance, training & developing people, or working hours. They are the ones who bring external trainers to help them solve their problems instead of saying, "The academy is preparing something, let's wait", or assign mandatory company programs knowing it won't help.
I tell you something, corporate will not come to your rescue. Nobody is coming. It is you who came, to address those issues, so pick up your goddamn responsibilities and let's change the industry one property at a time. Wouldn't it be better if you exercised all your power and felt in control rather than moaning about how everything is hopeless and doomed? Yes, some things are beyond your control but not those things that would actually make a massive difference within the industry. The changes we all want are in your hand. We don't need a global systemic overhaul of the industry. We need GMs who can see past the P&L and haven't gone down the rabbit hole of learned helplessness.