Archive for April, 2016

The Wisdom of Good to Great

Monday, April 25th, 2016

I have repeatedly advocated reading Jim Collins’ extraordinary book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap  . . . and Others Don’t, as a must read for hospitality managers, particularly those in standalone operations who suffer from limited resources and no economies of scale.  The book is of special importance to such properties because they have neither the time nor resources to waste on the flavor-of-the-month business strategies to discover the driving formulas of success.

Over the years I have discussed the book’s empirical findings with business leaders and managers from a number of different industries and I find the same level of interest and praise for the work of Collins and his research team.  In yet another effort to stimulate the interest of hospitality managers, I offer the following sampling of quotes from the book.

  • In speaking of  business “coherence,” a term from physics that describes the magnifying effect of one factor upon another, Collins says, “Each piece of the system reinforces the other parts of the system to form an integrated whole that is much more powerful than the sum of its parts.  It is only through consistency over time, through multiple generations, that you get maximum results.”
  • Talking about “core values,” he says, “The point is not what core values you have, but that you have core values at all, that you know what they are, that you build them explicitly into the organization, and that you preserve them over time.”
  • A student once asked Collins why he should try to build a great company; wasn’t success enough?  Collins answer was, “I believe that it is no harder to build something great than to build something good.  It might be statistically more rare to reach greatness, but it does not require more suffering than perpetuating mediocrity.”
  • In discussing the importance of the right people, he offered three simple truths:
  1. “If you begin with ‘who’ rather than ‘what,’ you can more easily adapt to a changing world.”
  2. “If you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away.”
  3. “If you have the wrong people, it doesn’t matter whether you discover the right direction, you still won’t have a great company.  Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
  • “In a good-to-great transformation, people are not your most important asset.  The right people are.”
  • “Rigor in a good-to-great company applies first at the top, focused on those who hold the largest burden of responsibility.”
  • “When you know you need to make a people change, act.”
  1. “The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.  The best people don’t need to be tightly managed.  Guided, taught, led – yes. But not tightly managed.”
  2. “Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people.”
  3. “If we’re honest with ourselves, the reason we wait too long often has less to do with concern for that person and more to do with our own convenience.”
  • Talking about charismatic leaders, Collins said, “Throughout the study, we found comparison companies where the top leader led with such force or instilled such fear that people worried more about the leader – what he would say, what he would think, what he would do – than they worried about external reality and what it could to do the company.”
  • Avoiding the pitfalls of charismatic leadership, “Yes, leadership is about vision.  But leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts are confronted.  There’s a huge difference between the opportunity to ‘have your say’ and the opportunity to be heard.  The good-to-great leaders understood this distinction, creating a culture wherein people had a tremendous opportunity to be heard and, ultimately, for the truth to be heard.”
  • On three intersecting circles of the Hedgehog Concept, “For the comparison companies, the exact same world that had become so simple and clear to the good-to-great companies remained complex and shrouded in the mist.  Why?  For two reasons.  First, the comparison companies never asked the right questions, the questions prompted by the three circles.  Second, they set their goals and strategies more from bravado than from understanding.”
  • Exploring a culture of discipline, “[Georg Rathman] understood that the purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline – a problem that largely goes away if you have the right people in the first place.  Most companies build their bureaucratic rules to manage a small percentage of wrong people on the bus, which in turn drives away the right people on the bus, which then increase the percentage of wrong people on the bus, which increases the need for more bureaucracy to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline, which then further drives the right people away, and so forth.”
  • Freedom and responsibility within the framework of a highly developed system.  “The good-to-great companies built a consistent system with clear constraints, but they also gave people freedom and responsibility with the framework of that system.  They hired self-disciplined people who didn’t need to be managed, and then managed the system, not the people.”
  •  “Technology alone cannot sustain great results.”
  • “Mediocrity results first and foremost from management failures, not technological failure.”
  • The flywheel effect.  “Good to great comes about by a cumulative process – step by step, action by action, decision by decision, turn by turn of the flywheel – that adds up to sustained and spectacular results.”
  • “Much of the answer to the question of “good to great” lies in the discipline to do whatever it takes to become the best within carefully selected arenas and then to seek continual improvement from there.  It’s really just that simple.”

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of this extraordinary book.  Read it, study it, figure out how to go about applying its guidance in your organization.  Properly understood and implemented, you’ll find yourself in the midst of an extraordinary enterprise.

As one leader of a top-tier club said, “Thank you for turning me onto Good to Great – I have been listening to it on my ipod and it is fantastic!”

The book is Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, Harper Business, New York, NY, 2001.

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!

Controlling Your Beverage Cart Losses

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Quick fixes usually do not address the underlying causes of problems.  By examining, improving, and documenting the process, you can establish underlying systems that will routinely handle situations.  When the bulk of situations in a business are handled routinely, more time is available for customer service and paying attention to details.

Attempt to follow the 80-20 rule.  If you have established routine system procedures for your operation, you are able to devote 80% of your efforts to 20% of the operation – the most critical details.  Look at how one recurring problem was solved with the development of an efficient system.

Joanne is the beverage manager in a high-end country club.  One of her responsibilities is the beverage cart service provided on the golf course.  The challenge presented by this service is a lack of inventory control over readily consumable and easily pilfered snack items.  Predictably, the club has ongoing problems.  After continually suspecting employees and worrying about unidentified losses, Joanne designed a system of checks and balances.

The beverage cart attendant is required to draw inventory from the golf course snack bar.  The snack bar attendant completes the inventory issue sheet and notes all issues as well as turn-ins at the end of the day.  The beverage cart attendant keeps track of sales on an inventory sold sheet.  Both forms are turned in to Joanne daily, giving her an easy way to compare both sales and inventory consumption.

The system is not foolproof, is subject to daily counting errors, and can be overcome by collusion among employees.  But for the most part, it works well and gives Joanne a routine tool to monitor beverage cart sales.  Systems don’t have to be complex or highly sophisticated; they just have to work.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line:  A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners and Emerging Leaders, Clarity Publications, 2006

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!

Empowerment – Providing Frequent Feedback

Monday, April 11th, 2016

“Provide frequent feedback so that people know how they are doing. Sometimes, the purpose of feedback is reward and recognition. People deserve your constructive feedback, too, so they can continue to develop their knowledge and skills.”

                                                                                                                                                Susan M. Heathfield

Guidance to Leaders

Hospitality enterprises need to ensure that leaders provide frequent feedback by making such feedback part of their Organizational Values and Culture.

“(Employees) have a need and the right to know how their performance is contributing to the achievement of  . . . goals.  Continuous feedback is essential.”

“Recognition is important to all of us.  If we have the authority to correct, we also have the responsibility to praise.  We cannot have one without the other.”

                                                                                                                                                Principles of Employee Relations

“Unless you make a concerted effort to provide employees proper direction, feedback, and ongoing growth opportunities, delegating may alienate them.  In other words, don’t use them.  You need to put effort into their growth and make it worthwhile for them as well as for you.”

                                                                                                                                                Leadership on the Line, p. 53

“There are seldom opportunities for dramatic heroism in most businesses.  However, there are the daily, dedicated efforts of employees faced with monotonous routine, difficult situations inherent in customer service, and detail, detail, detail.  Employees should be recognized for the quiet, unprepossessing heroism that this involves.  Simply put, do not forget to thank your employees for the good things they do every day – it probably outweighs the bad 50 to 1.”

                                                                                                                                                Leadership on the Line, p. 59

“Once goals have been established, constantly reiterate them and provide feedback to employees regarding their efforts to achieve them.  Most people want to participate in a larger effort and know how their daily efforts are contributing.”

                                                                                                                                                Leadership on the Line, p. 64

Providing Feedback

When you turn your empowered employees loose to make their contribution to the team’s goals, you must continually monitor what they are doing and provide meaningful feedback so they know how they’re doing.

Like a sailor continually monitoring the sea and wind while trimming his sails and adjusting the rudder to most efficiently sail a course, the leader must monitor the team’s efforts and tell them what they are doing right and how they might improve performance.  This frequent feedback accomplishes two important things:

  1. t validates and reinforces what the team is doing right, and
  2. It modifies and enhances those things that could be improved.

The bottom line is that feedback will give them confidence in what they are doing and this confidence will promote even more empowered behaviors.

Excepted from The Power of Employee Empowerment, Hospitality Resources International

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!

 

Post Mortems: An Essential Tool of Excellence

Monday, April 4th, 2016

There are many disciplines related to excellence in club operations, but there is none so basic as learning from one’s mistakes.  This shouldn’t be news to anyone.  Jim Collins, in his bestselling book on wildly successful companies, distilled the formula for success to the following, “Much of the answer to the question of ‘good to great’ lies in the discipline to do whatever it takes to become the best within carefully selected arenas and then seek continual improvement (emphasis added) in these.  It’s really just that simple.”

We have written extensively on the necessity of discipline in building a successful club operation, as well as the importance of Continual Process Improvement.  The willingness to routinely and repeatedly review all aspects of operations to ensure an improved level of performance will bring any club to a state of excellence.

A simple and highly effective tool for such review is the use of post mortems.  Originally a medical term for an autopsy to determine the cause of death, in common practice post mortem has come to take on the broader meaning of examining any action or event after the fact to determine cause(s) and/or means of improvement.  The military has a similar purpose in the use of “after action” reports to review plans, execution of orders, and battles.

Any club embracing a vision of excellence would do well to establish organization-wide post mortems as an essential discipline of learning from mistakes and improving future performance.  But what sort of things demand such review and how best to do them?

Most important is any action or event designed to entertain or delight members such as entertainment, food service, golf, and sports/fitness activities.  Each of these directly impact perceptions of the club’s quality, service, and member satisfaction and are expected to be well-conceived, organized, and executed.  Ongoing reviews to improve such activities will avoid past weaknesses or missteps, while continually striving for better and more enjoyable events.  Use of the Event Review, HRI Form 807, or some similar means of recording post-event ideas and suggestions is a simple way to institute consistent and continual improvement.

Beyond these are the ongoing reviews of systems, processes, standards, policies, procedures, training materials and methods, and any other significant function of club operations.  Each department head should have both the mindset and focus to continually think and say, “What can we do better, faster, more efficiently, at less cost, and with higher levels of member service?”  Employees must be made to understand that their ideas and suggestions are always welcomed and, when appropriate, acted upon to improve the organization.

Tips for maximizing the effectiveness of reviews:

  • Conduct the post mortem as soon after the event or activity as possible, while everything is fresh in everyone’s mind.
  • Make sure all parties know in advance that a review will be done so they may be alert for ideas and suggested improvements.
  • Include all major players involved in planning and executing the event.
  • Make ongoing review of activities and events part of each department head’s job description and performance review.
  • Ensure that each department head has established an appropriate filing system so that post mortem documentation for any and all events can be quickly found and used in future planning.
  • Ensure that the post mortem files of departing managers are retained by the club and available to replacements.
  • Seek the input of the line employees involved in servicing the event – activity, food service, and golf staffs – as they know better than anyone what worked and didn’t work.  Given their crucial input and the fact that they might not be available for a more formal review meeting in the days following the event, get their feedback prior to leaving the club at the end of the event shift.
  • Consider establishing a recognition and rewards system for line staff when their ideas are accepted and implemented.  Managers are expected as part of their jobs to improve operations, but line employees may need incentives.

Undoubtedly, many clubs and managers informally review their operations for improvement, but greater and more consistent results will be achieved if every employee, managers and line, buys into a formal, effort to review and improve the club.  Post mortems may be performed on cadavers, but a robust, club-wide process of continual improvement, encouraged and supported by the club’s leadership, will breathe new life into any operation.

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!