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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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.