Mobilizing a Mentoring Mentality for Empowering Associates

By Nigel Cossey General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott Dallas Allen at the John Q. Hammons Center | April 22, 2018

Think about the many doors in a hotel. Have you ever thought of theses structures as barriers to communication with your associates? A closed office door can communicate, "I'm not to be disturbed," or simply, "I'm out on hotel rounds." In my early career, I saw a general manager physically remove the door from the hinges of the food and beverage staff's office area because the door tended to always be closed. 

A consistently closed door can emit an unapproachable management style. When I was working my way through the hospitality ranks with a former employer, I experienced an environment in which a couple of general managers probably didn't even know my name or what I did at the hotel. I promised myself that I would not adopt that management style, nor would I foster a culture where other managers around me did so.

Open the Door

Now imagine an open door and its possibilities. An open door can encourage healthy communication, welcome input and ideas, and build trust with associates. By making yourself available and working side by side with your team, both figurative and real walls can come down. You can pave the way for helping associates feel more comfortable approaching you, potentially leading to their becoming more empowered in making decisions.

My open-door policy is one of the first things I discuss during new hire orientation. I emphasize how it is critical to be available to your team. This means being accessible around the hotel and in your physical office space. My experience has been that this approach inspires a more positive culture and sparks associates' interest in hospitality career choices that they previously may not have discovered or shared.

I hold regularly scheduled meetings with our hotel's assistant general manager, department heads, and line level associates in training. By promoting a workplace where everyone can speak up, share ideas, and have a voice, I am working to nurture an open environment in which we strive toward a common goal as well as individual development. This approach is leaving its signature on our local hotel culture.

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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.