Who Is On Your Property Management Team

By Michael Haynie, SR. President, Parkway Hospitality Management | November 13, 2011

Take a lesson from professional sports teams. How many times has the addition of one too many superstars resulted in the whole being the lesser of the sum of the parts?

Your property management team should be carefully engineered, similar to a professional sports team, to ensure that important players are in place and that there are not too many superstars. Teams must be crafted to include a variety of personalities, capabilities, skill sets and inclinations; a matrix of supportive and complementary strengths and weaknesses. The leadership challenge is to ensure that necessary role players both understand and are recognized for the value of those roles.

You're Front Office Manager or Rooms Division Executive may be a brilliant revenue and inventory management strategist, a great forecaster, and good with the numbers but lacks the necessary set of people skills. Behind that position must be a person who can communicate the strategy in an understandable way to those who must understand it and execute it. These two different skill sets are critical to overall success and are clearly codependent. Both of the people mentioned above must be recognized for their contribution and both must perform consistent with the overall vision for the property.

One of the most important aspects of a hotel besides friendliness is cleanliness. The Executive Housekeeper, besides the General Manager, is in my estimation the most important person on the property management team (sorry Director of Sales and Marketing) They say cleanliness is next to godliness and in a hotel environment where most guests realize that perhaps thousands of people have slept in the beds, walked on the rugs, and used the bathrooms, it is up to the Executive Housekeeper to give the appearance as if no one has stayed in the guestrooms before. This starts with how clean the exterior, lobby, elevator tracks etc appear to be. As a result, this is a hands on position which requires much walking and inspecting, and a must be filled by a person who is in good shape. In addition the Executive Housekeeper must be a "people person," someone who is a natural communicator and gets along well with everyone. The ability to multi task is crucial as well. The rooms division department can make or break your profitability margins and the Executive Housekeeper has to have an expert understanding of financials. I always look for someone in this position who wants the General Manager's job and in my experience, the better General Managers have been Executive Housekeepers at one point in their career. The successful one's "get it". My best tip on hiring a great Executive Housekeeper is to go their house to interview or take a ride in their car. If they keep their own environment clean and organized, there is a good chance they will do the same for your property.

One of the finest F&B professionals I have ever met, worked for me in a corporate capacity. This person had an amazing scope of knowledge, was a great planner (on paper), creative, and ultimately worthless. Worthless because he was incapable of communicating the vision to the staff or training others in the skill sets he had acquired and mastered; worthless because instead of surrounding himself with the counterpoints to his skill set, he surrounded himself with like-minded personalities with similar skill sets. His inability to communicate combined with the lack of supportive capabilities infused the organization with a non-communicative, technically driven culture that, in short order, became a circular firing squad as service levels declined, top line revenues dissipated, and the lack of connectivity between executive management planning and line level understanding and execution broadened.

Your management team is a direct reflection of your leadership skills, experience, and vision. The temptation to assemble a clone army is an ever present comfort zone. The natural tendency is to surround yourself with like-minded team members who are similar to yourself. While general philosophical compatibility is important, that compatibility must take a backseat when evaluating applicable skill sets and personality types.

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