Operations Planner
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Leadership Must-Do's That Produce Great Results! - Week 3

publication date: Mar 25, 2015
author/source: Justin G. Lewis, COO, Timberline Hospitalities LLC

Week 3

#5 Pay me now or pay me later

How often as leaders do we tend to put off confronting employee conflicts or employee performance issues only to have them rear their ugly head at the most inconvenient times? Pay me now or pay me later is usually referred to when dealing with auto mechanics. Essentially, if something is wrong with your car and you choose to put off fixing it, it will eventually get to a breaking point when you least expect it and at the worst opportune time. You either end up stuck on the side of the road or without a car when you need it most. Why? Because you allowed the situation to control you rather than you control the situation.

This is the same when dealing with your team. The first sign of conflict, poor performance or misconduct should be dealt with quickly and directly. If not, you have essentially granted or permitted that style of behavior and it will haunt you until you do deal with it. When this happens, not only does the employee continue to slide into the same destructive pattern of behavior, but other employees lose respect for the leader and even worse - take on that same behavior. We cannot allow this to happen as leaders because it will ruin your culture and make it very challenging for you long term.

Example 1:   On one occasion I witnessed a desk clerk taking a reservation on the phone and they completely ignored our reservation script of mentioning Features & Benefits. It was as if we had wasted our time and energy teaching that skill over the last 5 years through countless meetings. My mistake was huge. I ignored the behavior and assumed that the desk clerk would never do it again. I was wrong. The correct response would have been to address it immediately and retrain the employee. I allowed this behavior and it could have cost us future revenue and reinforced the wrong message to our team.

The most overlooked "Pay me now or pay me later" behaviors:
  • Employee tardiness
  • Employee rudeness or poor attitude towards coworkers
  • Poor acknowledgment of guests or not practicing the 10-5 rule
  • Employees overlooking checklists or to-do lists
  • Failing to practice proper professional etiquette in guest impact areas or on the phone
  • Cleanliness or quality issues
  • When an employee completely takes management direction lightly
  • Supervisors who fail to practice or uphold the culture at the hotel

How do we prohibit "Pay me now or pay me later" in our leadership style? Deal with these concerns directly as they happen. Never put off corrective criticism and discipline. Seek them out and be vocal and demand obedience to the culture, company values and leadership direction. Over time, your reward will be disciplined employees who respect the culture and you, who develop over time to become real winners.

# 6 Your success depends on 3 people

Your success comes down to making 3 specific groups of people happy. The great leaders in our industry make these 3 groups of people extremely happy. The mediocre and poor performers sometimes go in the other direction and make these groups of people unhappy. When this happens, you will probably be looking for a new job.

What 3 people are we referring to?
  • Hotel Ownership
  • Your Guests
  • Your Team

If you have the skills, passion and ambition to focus your efforts on these 3 groups of people, you can be a highly successful General Manager in this industry. At times you will be pulled in many directions and sometimes in one direction more so than the others. So let's look at the 3 people and how to make sure they remain happy.

We will start with owners. They are the risk takers in our industry. They put forth the financial capital it takes to build or acquire the hotel, create the jobs and hopefully earn a solid return on investment. It should be our focus as hotel leaders to ensure the owners get that solid return on investment and protect their asset. This will obviously involve strong oversight of the financial performance of the hotel and maintaining the physical capital or building itself.

I recommend 3 reports that need to be on your desk at all times and always examined closely:

1. The most recent Profit & Loss statement. Know it, understand it, manage it, dissect it and hold supervisors accountable to it. Find ways to improve your bottom line through expense control and sound revenue management.

2. The Star Report/Smith Travel Report. Drive revenue, know your market, know your competition, know how your performing and where you should be performing at. Driving revenue is key to a stronger P&L and a stronger cash-flow which will make any owner happy.

3. Your Budget. The Budget you hopefully helped write and calculated prior to the fiscal year. This budget is the "painted picture" of the next 12 months of expected performance. Work the budget and hold your sales team and supervisors accountable to it. Obviously you not only want to work the budget, but you would hope to outperform it. Never settle for average - exceed expectations!

Your Guest
The guest is at the top of the food chain. They call all the shots at the hotel on a daily basis. The are either content, unhappy or they say WOW! We want them to say WOW! They will help you make the decisions and their feedback and opinion is pathway to high success. For example, if the carpet is dirty in the public area, the guest is going to let you know that and therefore, you must find a way to get it clean. The key is to find it before they do.

There are 3 ways that I recommend tracking guest satisfaction:

1. Your franchise service scores or guest comment cards. Analyze guest comments closely and take nothing for granite. Look for ways to make the guest right, cure problems quickly and build your culture around what the guests expectations are. Focus on Total Quality Management which places the focus on preventative maintenance and continuous service, rather than just error detection.

2. Employee feedback. Meet periodically with your team and listen to what the guest is telling them. Breakfast staff, restaurant employees, room attendants, guest services, maintenance staff and all other guest-contact employees hear and speak to the guest on a daily basis. They need to be your eyes and ears at the property.

3. Be present in guest impact areas. The GM is sometimes in their office, in the community or out making sales calls more often than they are in guest impact areas. Be in your breakfast area or in your restaurant in the morning before check out. Be at the front desk during high check out volume or check in volume to hear guest feedback. Be in your lobby or lounge when the guest is present. This is when you can hear the guest and talk with them.

Your Team
These are the people who make it all happen. The team will have a direct impact on the previous 2 groups - owners and guests. The teams performance directly impacts owners profit and guest satisfaction. So therefore spend lots of quality and quantity time with them. Do not neglect the team or any area of the team throughout your work week.

When it comes to the teams satisfaction, this is what I recommend:
1. Care: Care about the team, care about their development and individual contribution, their needs and personal life. Take the time to care and learn about your team.
2. Benefits & Opportunity: Work diligently to provide fair pay, good benefits and opportunities for learning and growth within the company.

3. Training: Create a learning environment for your team where they can excel and develop into outstanding contributors.
4. Time: Give them your time. Talk with them, eat with them, break with them, jump in the trenches with them.
5. Listen: This is sometimes the hardest part for some of us - but make sure you listen to them. Listen to their feedback, pay close attention to their ideas, concerns and comments. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth - so listen twice as much as you speak.

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