Empowering Your Hotel Staff as a Leadership Style

By Mark Ricketts President & Chief Operating Officer, McNeill Hotels | September 02, 2018

Many outstanding leaders believe in not asking of their subordinates something they would not do-or be able to do-themselves. Managing a rush of guests arriving on scene all at once with aplomb. Sure thing. Light bulb goes out in a room just as the engineering staff goes off duty. No problem. We all know how to change a light bulb, and know where to find one in the first place. A staff member has to leave the property due to a family emergency and we must cover for them, without losing a beat. Been there, done that.  Think of this principle as one of the Golden Rules of Leadership. 

Among these Golden Rules, another key element of leadership is in having the intent, skills and confidence to empower our staff-assigning responsibilities, but, also, giving individuals defined authority to solve issues, internally or with guests and our professional partners.

In this article, we will talk about how good leaders understand why and how to empower their staff, giving them the tools to think creatively and purposely in a variety of settings. We will also provide some practical examples of empowerment in action; and talk about how this leadership style contributes to and enhances a hospitality organization's overall culture of quality and value.

Empowerment Realized

In simplest terms, empowerment means that staff members, when faced with an "out of the box" situation, can do more than just say: "I'm sorry."  

When we ourselves are customers, is there anything more frustrating than having a problem and the associate that you are dealing with is unable to make a decision to resolve the problem-no matter how small the issue is?  A typical response is: "Do I really have to wait for a supervisor…?"    

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.