Archive for December, 2014

The Logical Conclusion

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Club managers and department heads (the various enterprise leaders) face many obstacles in attempting to provide a quality club experience with the highest possible levels of service for members and their guests.  Overcoming these hurdles, described in Ten Challenges to Operating a Private Club, requires a great deal of focus and discipline, yet the basic premise of how to overcome these challenges can be summed up by the need for unimpeded communication and consistent training.

This conclusion can be logically determined from the following statements:

1.   Club operations are labor-intensive – it takes a lot of people doing all the right things in their various positions to meet quality and service expectations.

2.   Each set of departmental responsibilities encompasses a vast amount of detail, much of it basic and routine, which must be attended to daily.

3.   While the standards, policies, procedures, and service practices to operate individual departments within the club are well-known to the professional leaders of those enterprises, these must be integrated into the larger vision of club operations.

4.   This integration requires the vision, values, and clearly-defined expectations of the overall executive – the club general manager.

5.   The vision, values, and expectations must then be communicated correctly and consistently through the intervening layers of managers and supervisors to the front line employees who both create quality and deliver service with their daily efforts.

6.   Conversely, the feedback from front line employees, who know better than anyone what works and doesn’t work and who, if encouraged, have the most realistic ideas of how to improve the operation at the level of member contact, must be communicated back to and through their supervisors and managers to department heads, and ultimately the general manager.

7.   Such communication throughout the organization can only work if there are no impediments to the flow of information such as moody, aloof, or uncommunicative managers or by managers who do not inherently understand that a leader’s role is service to employees – to provide them with the tools, training, resources, daily engagement, leadership, and example to do their jobs properly and with enthusiasm.

8.   Anything that impedes this two-way open flow of communication blunts all efforts to achieve quality and deliver service.

9.   Since managers and employees come and go with some frequency, the only way to ensure that each employee learns the details and nuances of their positions is to train them thoroughly.

10. Training material flows naturally from the club’s vision, values, expectations, standards, policies, and procedures, as well as various legal and liability issues, safety and public health necessities, and departmental service practices.  Consistent training requires that these concepts and materials be in writing regardless of the ultimate media or methods used for instruction.  To do otherwise is to operate from easily-corruptible and ever-changing oral tradition.

The Logical Conclusion:  Because quality and service are both detail- and people-intensive, a large number of employees must know what to do in all situations. Such complexity can only be mastered through unimpeded communication and consistent training.  Unimpeded communication flows naturally from service-based leaders, while written values, expectations, standards, policies, and procedures ensures the consistency of training.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

Performance Management

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Recognizing that a hospitality organization is a collection of diverse business enterprises, each with its own requirements, disciplines, and knowledge for success, General Managers must rely on department heads to run their operations with high levels of professionalism, efficiency, and service.  But to ensure that this is consistently done with a quality that meets customer/guest/member and ownership’s expectations, the general manager must exert his or her authority to guide subordinates toward a common vision, specific goals, and a coordinated timing of initiatives across departmental lines.

With this in mind there is probably no more important thing a general manager can do to drive desired outcomes than to prepare detailed work plans for subordinate managers and hold them strictly accountable for results.

But beyond the specifics and timing of work plan elements the General Manager must also spell out in detail his or her expectations for leadership, management disciplines, and organizational professionalism, as well as performance and service standards for the operation.  The overall cycle of performance management, then, consists of enumerating expectations, driving organizational development through work planning, and providing feedback and measurements of performance by means of periodic formal reviews.

The performance of line employees, while not carrying the same scope and weight of consequence as that of managers and supervisors, is still important in that it most directly affects service and service delivery.  So while the work planning requirement may not be as significant for line employees, the need to spell out expectations for behavior and performance is still of major concern.

Further, all employees need and deserve feedback on their efforts at work.  Such feedback serves as ongoing guidance as to the suitability and sufficiency of their contribution to the collective effort.  While it is expected that employees will receive this feedback on a day in, day out basis, it is also customary and appropriate to give them formal feedback during periodic performance reviews.

Lastly, such reviews provide opportunities for helping employees with self- and career-development advice.  Such interest by management in each employee’s development will yield greater commitment and loyalty to the organization and its performance.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Guest Blog: Learning Experiences

Monday, December 8th, 2014
Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

One of my favorite coffee-mug witticisms says that “Everyone is entitled to be stupid from time to time—but some abuse the privilege more than others.”  As club managers, we have all been exasperated by employees to whom this seems to apply, and are often inclined to just write them off as hopeless.

But as Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”  Many times, by taking a closer, more introspective look, we discover that these “hopeless causes” really reflect inherent problems within our own organizations, often caused by our own less-than-brilliant performance as managers.

We all know there’s a need for ongoing training and development of our employees.  But too often, we get distracted by the day-to-day details of our operations.  To be effective, training must be viewed as a “department,” in the same sense as F&B, golf operations or course maintenance.  Accordingly, GMs and department heads must devote as much time to their roles as “Chief Learning Officers” as they do to being clubhouse managers, golf pros or superintendents.

At the same time, we also need to constantly remind and show our employees that training is a two-way street.  A few years ago, I had a sous-chef come and tell me he was leaving, because he felt he was no longer learning anything in his job.  I asked him what his learning expectations were, and he explained that while he wanted to be an executive chef someday, he felt our current head chef didn’t want to teach him.

I explained to this employee that it was incumbent on him, as much as on his supervisor, to develop his skill sets and position himself to move up.  When I asked him what he had done lately on his own to learn, he was silent.  I challenged him to take more upon himself to advance his culinary education, and told him I would pay for any books that he wanted to purchase, or online training that he might want to pursue.  I also gave him an allowance to take approved management classes.

This employee decided to stay and pursue a “self-directed” learning program in this fashion.  About two years later, our executive chef left, and he earned a promotion to replace him.

School as a Stool

As this example shows, training works best when everyone is involved and committed, from ownership to management and down through the employee ranks.  When all legs of the stool are properly balanced in this fashion, everyone benefits—the organization and management because employees become more skilled, and the employees themselves because they can expand their careers, make connections and find new purpose and motivation in their lives.

If you’re not sure if your efforts are on target from all of these perspectives, a “training needs analysis” can prove to be a very beneficial exercise.  After all, “If we don’t know what road to take, then any road will take us there.”  This analysis can be conducted by the most qualified trainers from within your organization, or you can hire outside talent to come in and evaluate, structure and teach your programs.

Here, too, it can be very beneficial to get employees involved in the process.  Have some of your lead employees work with management to develop training action plans and set clear objectives.  Then firm up the entire process by holding group employee meetings before any training begins, so managers and employees can agree and understand the expectations of the programs.  Too often, we teach without completely explaining why, or what, we are teaching.

Once training efforts are underway, it’s equally critical to make sure they are kept current and innovative.  Are you still using the same employee training handbook you created (or most likely, plagiarized) from a prior operation?  Is your training program truly specific to the needs of your current operation?  Are you teaching your employees the very latest techniques for their jobs?

A good barometer for honest insight into where you are with training is employee turnover.  Like the sous-chef who came to me, a key contributing factor to why many employees leave is when they are not properly trained and therefore feel confused, frustrated, threatened or just unsure about their ability to contribute to the operation.

Valuable History Lessons

In the club and resort business, a well thought-out training plan should also include teaching the history and culture of your property.  It’s easy to overlook this critical part of training as we rush to get to the details of service techniques, but the two are closely related.  By focusing on how members and guests have come to perceive our operations and expect certain levels of service, “culture training” will properly orient employees to “the way it has always been”—and must continue to be.

Remember, too, that while many people like to learn by “doing” or from experience, others learn best “by the book.”  What’s really needed is a balance of both.  While every training program should be formalized enough to include written training plans, handbooks and a classroom setting, my advice would also be to not paralyze it by making it too cumbersome with “book learning.”  Instead, be sure to also include a full dose of interactive and “on the job” education.

I learned this from personal experience a few years ago, when my F&B Director came to me and expressed concern that we were losing qualified employees during the training process.  This prompted us to analyze our entire training program, and we soon saw that it was too formal and intimidating.

We took our four-inch training handbook, removed chapters, and restructured the plan so we would present specific areas of training one at a time, as opposed to the entire book all at once. This had a noticeably positive effect on the success of our training— and led to an equally noticeable reduction in employee turnover.

Article written by: Don E. Vance, CCM, CPC, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager, Hound Ears Club

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Growing Your Leadership Skills

Monday, December 1st, 2014

As any individual grows in leadership, his or her ideas about what leadership entails will mature and, in that maturation, one constant will stand out—change.  Adaptation to insistently changing circumstances is a hallmark of success.  One must approach life as a continual learning experience.

What attitudes and approaches lend themselves to this continual learning experience?

  • Always keep an open mind.  Try not to pre-judge situations or people.
  • Never assume you know it all.  The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.
  • Be open and accessible to constituents—particularly followers.
  • Remember that each follower and each constituent is unique and may require different motivators.
  • Take time to stop and listen to your constituents.  In your rush to accomplish, do not forget that you need their input, feedback, and support.  Knowing their needs is essential.
  • Don’t cast others as adversaries.  Find out their legitimate concerns about your agenda.  Accept the challenge of winning over your most difficult constituents.
  • Take constituent concerns seriously and adjust your agenda as necessary.  Their buy-in to your program is essential to your success.  Judicious compromise is a sign of intelligence and flexibility, not defeat.  It should never be “my way or the highway.”
  • Stay informed.  Know what’s going on in your organization, community, and the world at large.  To be effective, you must be relevant to your time and place.  To speak with authority and win people over, you must be knowledgeable about more than just your job.
  • Nurture and care for your constituents.  While never on a quid pro quo basis, you will find that the care you give will be returned many times over in loyalty, support, and advancement of your goals.
  • Be aware and alert to what goes on around you.  Learn by observing others, by witnessing their successes and failures.  Most knowledge comes not from education, but from your life experiences.  When you go through life in a fog of your own making—too consumed with real and imaginary dramas—you are inert, like a rock, to the wealth of learning opportunities around you.  As one leading hospitality company puts it, “keep your antennas up and your radar on” at all times—you’ll learn a lot by doing so!
  • When you’re stressed or something has you ill-at-ease or on edge, it is a sure sign that something is wrong somewhere.  Analyze your situation.  Discovering the source is the first step in finding out what’s wrong and where you need to act.
  • Once you’ve discovered the problem, contemplate how your leadership can overcome the issue.  Like any other learned ability, this continual “puzzling” over leadership challenges will enhance your skills and usually bring you to a better resolution.  If things turn out badly, figure out what went wrong and learn from the mistake.

Darwin was right on many levels when he said that creatures have to adapt to survive.  Leaders must adapt, not just to survive, but to thrive.

Ed Rehkopf, excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!