Archive for the ‘accountability’ Category

Good to Great: Freedom and Responsibility within a Framework

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Throughout my career I have struggled to balance the competing needs for entrepreneurial thinking, innovation, and initiative and the necessities of organization, structure, consistency, and control.  How does one create and sustain a nimble organization that can quickly respond to new technologies, changing member wants and desires, and the competition of the marketplace while maintaining an efficient operation and conscientiously meeting regulatory requirements?

No thinking business person wants to saddle their operation with a bureaucratic mindset, yet efficient operations need systems to function properly and avoid risk, liability, and regulatory problems.  The very word “bureaucracy” carries the negative connotation of inefficiency and stultifying processes where crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s become an organization’s reason for being.

In examining this never ending challenge for businesses, Jim Collins and his research team at Stanford University found that the good to great companies they examined gave people the freedom to do whatever was necessary to succeed within a highly developed system or framework.  Then their people were held strictly accountable for their results.

The analogy that he gave was a commercial airline pilot who works within rigid air traffic control and safety systems on the ground and in the air, but who has the ultimate responsibility for success – that is, the safe delivery of plane and passengers from location to location.  That singular responsibility allows a pilot, at his or her discretion, to remove unruly passengers, abort landings, fly to alternate airports, and take any other action deemed necessary for the safety of the flight.

But essential to bestowing such freedom and responsibility is the necessity of defining the system and clearly identifying constraints.  In the airline industry the Federal Aviation Administration establishes all standards, policies, and procedures for both commercial and private pilots and ensures their ongoing understanding of the system through licensure, certifications, simulator and cockpit training, as well as continual flight and safety bulletins.  To quote from the book:

“The good to great companies build a consistent system with clear constraints, but they also gave people the freedom and responsibility within 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.”

As a club manager at any level of the organization, you cannot do it all yourself.  Holding the reins tightly creates a bottleneck where all decisions have to come through you, thereby stifling the initiative and creativity of your subordinates.  It also puts a tremendous burden on you to perform, requires you to be on property at all hours, and leads to burnout.

The only way to be truly successful in any complex enterprise is to empower those under you and give them the freedom and responsibility to succeed in their portion of the operation.  But to do this successfully you need to fully develop the framework for their empowerment and a means to hold them accountable.  This means you have to have well-defined organizational values and written standards, policies, and procedures.  Lastly, you need measurable accountabilities for performance.

With these in place you have started on the path to greatness in your enterprise, but it’s only the start – Collins offers much more proven guidance for those willing to invest the time in this well-researched and written, as well as entertaining, book.

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!

Eight Steps to Performance Accountability

Monday, January 19th, 2015

The greatest failure in performance management in any enterprise is the failure to hold managers accountable for their performance.  Many hospitality operations do a poor job in the area of accountability.  This failure is crippling to the long term health and viability of the enterprise.  Here are eight steps to help measure performance and hold managers accountable:

  1. Work Plans.  Have each manager prepare an annual work plan spelling out goals, proposed accomplishments, and timelines for completion of each item.  It’s always a good idea to involve managers in preparing their own work plans though these must be based upon broad guidelines from the owners and general manager.  While their buy-in is important to their commitment to their individual plans, ultimately plans must meet the needs and desires of the owner and general manager.
  2. Budgets.  In order for managers of profit or cost centers to be held accountable for meeting budgets, they must participate in developing their own budgets.  An unrealistic budget will defeat a manager from the get-go, but “softball” budgets cannot be accepted either.  One of the best ways to budget is to use volume and average sale/hourly wage benchmarks to build the revenue and payroll parts of the budget.  Not only do historical metrics make for more accurate budgets, but analyzing these benchmarks on an ongoing basis makes for a better understanding of shortfalls in revenue or overages in payroll costs.
  3. Benchmarks.  All departments must be benchmarked in detail – at a minimum revenues, cost of goods, payroll, and other operating expenses should be benchmarked monthly.  These and other benchmarks are the most objective measures for holding managers accountable.
  4. Tools to Beat Budget.  Use the Tools to Beat Budget program whereby all managers with bottom line responsibility track their revenues and/or expenses in real time, thereby exercising greater control over their budget and financial performance.  Properly maintaining the Tools to Beat Budget binder provides all the information necessary for in-depth monthly reviews of performance by the General Manager and other interested parties.
  5. Monthly Review Meetings.  Hold monthly meetings with department heads to review progress on annual plans, actual to budget performance, benchmarks, and efforts to correct operational and performance deficiencies.  These meetings permit ongoing review and course corrections or added emphasis as necessary.
  6. Routine Departmental Inspections.  Use routine inspections with a standardized checklist to inspect all operating areas on an ongoing basis.  Such inspections should monitor and note cleanliness, order, maintenance, safety, security, and other signs of organized and efficient operations.  These inspections when standardized, scored, and benchmarked provide an ongoing measure of these basics of an operation.
  7. Interdepartmental Support Evaluations.  Since all departments of a operation are interrelated and depend upon one another for peak performance, each department head should fill out standardized evaluations on interdepartmental support and cooperation.  As an example:  the accounting department will have a hard time meeting its requirements if operating departments do not submit coded invoices, payroll data, inventories, benchmarks, and other financial data in a timely fashion.  If department heads know that their performance in these areas is being monitored and rated, they will put greater emphasis in meeting these requirements.
  8. Performance Reviews.  Base periodic performance reviews for each manager on specific accomplishments and meeting well-defined performance measures.  Meaningful reviews are directly dependent upon the effort put into defining expectations, establishing specific work plans, and creating objective measures for accomplishment and performance.  While it takes some effort to set up a system of objective measures, the rewards for doing so are immense and well worth the effort.

Unless a General Manager does everything himself, he must rely on the efforts and performance of his subordinate managers.  But without measurable accountabilities he has no real means to drive his agenda, performance, and other initiatives to improve operations.  When department heads aren’t held accountable, only the General Manager will be.

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!

Monthly Review of Financial Statements

Monday, May 5th, 2014

General Managers should conduct monthly reviews of Operating Statements with department heads.

In order to ensure that the operation meets the financial objectives of its annual operating budget, it is imperative that all department heads monitor their monthly performance closely and be prepared to answer questions about their department’s performance and give reasons for any significant variance from budgeted amounts.

On a monthly basis after the final statement is prepared and distributed, the Controller will set up a schedule of meetings for department heads to meet with the General Manager and Controller to review their department’s performance.

  • Department heads will bring their individual copies of the Tools to Beat Budget binder to the meetings, as well as their departmental benchmarks.
  • Department heads must also be prepared to present plans to remedy significant or ongoing shortfalls in revenue or overages in expense categories.
  • Managers can best prepare for their monthly meeting by ensuring that their Tools to Beat Budget binder is accurate and up-to-date.
  • They must also review their financial statements in detail, noting any under budget revenue and over budget expense categories.  Items with significant deviations from budget must be investigated so that these anomalies can be explained to the General Manager.

Significant shortfalls in revenue should be analyzed and a plan drawn up to address the shortages.  Such a plan would normally include marketing efforts to increase customer traffic, special events or sales to increase revenues, or price increases to generate more revenue from the same volume of business (though managers must always keep in mind that volume may decrease with any price increase).

Often a particular expense category will be over budget due to timing issues – this happens when a budgeted expense is incurred earlier in the fiscal year than originally anticipated.  Such an “over budget” occurrence will come back in line with budget in future months at the time when the expenditure was actually planned.  Sometimes, the increased expenses may be the result of an unanticipated event, such as equipment breakdown and repair or an arising opportunity necessitating the purchase of new equipment or materials.

In any case the department head must be prepared to explain discrepancies and answer the General Manager’s questions about budget variances and what actions will be taken to remedy the situation.

Ed Rehkopf, Excerpted from Basic Accounting and Financial Management for Managers, Hospitality Resources International

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

 

Monthly Review of Financial Performance

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Club department heads have bottom line responsibility for the financial performance of their departments, but the General Manager has overall responsibility for the performance of the club and is accountable to the Board for that performance.  Therefore, a basic management discipline for the General manager should be to conduct monthly reviews of operating statements with each department head.

In order to ensure that the club meets the financial objectives of its annual operating budget, it is imperative that all department heads monitor their monthly performance closely and be prepared to answer questions about their department’s performance and give reasons for any significant variance from budgeted amounts.

The Program.  On a monthly basis after the final statement is prepared and distributed, the Controller will set up a schedule of meetings for department heads to meet with the General Manager and Controller to review their department’s performance.

Department heads will bring their individual copies of the Tools to Beat Budget binder to the meetings.

Department heads must also be prepared to present plans to remedy significant or ongoing shortfalls in revenue or overages in expense categories.

Preparing for the Meeting.  Managers can best prepare for their monthly meeting by ensuring that their Tools to Beat Budget binder is accurate and up-to-date.

They must also review their financial statements in detail, noting any under budget revenue and over budget expense categories.  Items with significant deviations from budget must be investigated so that these anomalies can be explained to the General Manager.

Significant shortfalls in revenue should be analyzed and a plan drawn up to address the shortages.  Such a plan would normally include marketing efforts to increase member traffic, special events or sales to increase revenues, or price increases to generate more revenue from the same volume of business (though managers must always keep in mind that volume may decrease with any price increase).

Often a particular expense category will be over budget due to timing issues – this happens when a budgeted expense is incurred earlier in the fiscal year than originally anticipated.  Such an “over budget” occurrence will come back in line with budget in future months at the time when the expenditure was actually planned.  Sometimes, the increased expenses may be the result of an unanticipated event, such as equipment breakdown and repair or an arising opportunity necessitating the purchase of new equipment or materials.

In any case the department head must be prepared to explain discrepancies and answer the General Manager’s questions about budget variances and what actions will be taken to remedy the situation.

Take Away.  A monthly review of operating performance gives department heads the opportunity to brief the General Manager on the operating results of their individual “businesses” while keeping the General Manager fully informed of those factors impacting their bottom line.  I also like to use these monthly meetings to review department heads progress on meeting their annual work plan.  In both cases, this basic business discipline keeps the General Manager fully informed with the least investment of his or her time while reinforcing to department heads their accountability for results.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Guest Blog: Dignity…We All Crave It, So Why Do We Keep Ignoring It?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

donna-hicks-152x200

What is the motivating force behind all human interaction – in families, in communities, in the business world, and in relationships from the personal level to the international level?  DIGNITY.  It is the desire to be treated well.  It is an unspoken human yearning that is at the heart of all conflicts, yet no one is paying attention to it.

When dignity is violated, the response is likely to involve aggression, even violence, hatred, and vengeance; the human connection is the first thing to go.  On the other hand, when people treat each other with dignity, they feel their worth is recognized, creating lasting and meaningful relationships.  Surprisingly, most people have little understanding of dignity.  While a desire for dignity is universal, knowing how to honor it in ourselves and others is not.

After working as a conflict resolution specialist for twenty years, I have observed and researched the circumstances that give rise to dignity violations.  On the other hand, when the following ten elements of dignity are honored, people feel their dignity has been recognized and that they have been treated well.  Relationships flourish under these conditions.

The Ten Essential Elements of Dignity

Acceptance of Identity.  Approach people as being neither inferior nor superior to you.  Give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged.  Interact without prejudice or bias, accepting the ways in which race, religion, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, and disability may be at the core of the other people’s identities.  Assume that others have integrity.

Inclusion.  Make others feel that they belong, whatever the relationship – whether they are in your family, community, organization, or nation.

Safety.  Put people at ease at two levels: physically, so they feel safe from bodily harm, and psychologically, so they feel safe from being humiliated.  Help them feel free to speak without fear of retribution.

Acknowledgement.  Give people your full attention by listening, hearing, validating, and responding to their concerns, feelings, and experiences.

Recognition.  Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness, and help.  Be generous with praise, and show appreciation and gratitude to others for their contributions and ideas.

Fairness.  Treat people justly, with equality, and in an evenhanded way according to agreed-on laws and rules.  People feel that you have honored their dignity when you treat them without discrimination or injustice.

Benefit of the Doubt.   Treat people as trustworthy.  Start with the premise that others have good motives and are acting with integrity.

Understanding.  Believe that what others think matters.  Give them the chance to explain and express their points of view.  Actively listen in order to understand them.

Independence.  Encourage people to act on their own behalf so that they feel in control of their lives and experience a sense of hope and possibility.

Accountability.  Take responsibility for your actions.  If you have violated the dignity of another person, apologize.  Make a commitment to change your hurtful behaviors.

Our desire for dignity resides deep within us, defining our common humanity.  If our capacity for indignity is our lowest common denominator, then our yearning for dignity is our highest.  And if indignity tears relationships apart, then dignity can put them back together again.

Our ignorance of all things related to dignity – how to claim our own and how to honor it in others, has contributed to many of the conflicts we see in the world today.  This is as true in the boardroom and in the bedroom, as it is in politics and international relations.  It is true for all human interaction.  If we are to evolve as a species, there is no greater need than to learn how to treat each other and ourselves with dignity.  It is the glue that could hold us all together.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Not only does dignity make for good human relationships, it does something perhaps far more important – it creates the conditions for our mutual growth and development.  It is a distraction to have to defend oneself from indignity.  It takes up our time and uses up our precious energy.  The power of dignity, on the other hand, only expands with use.  The more we give, the more we get.

There is no greater leadership challenge than to lead with dignity, helping us all to understand what it feels like to be honored and valued and to feel the incalculable benefits that come from experiencing it.  The leadership challenge is at all levels – for those in the world of politics, business, education, religion, to everyday leadership in our personal lives.  Peace will not flourish anywhere without dignity.  There is no such thing as democracy without dignity, nor can there be authentic peace if people are suffering indignities.  Last but not least, feeling dignity’s power – both by honoring it and locating our own inner source of it – sets us up for one of humanities greatest gifts – the experience of being in relationship with others in a way that brings out the best in one another, allowing us to become more of what we are capable of being.

Donna Hicks Ph.D., author of Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict, Yale University Press, 2011.  You can read more about the author and her book at http://drdonnahicks.com/

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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The Simple Checklist

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Airline pilots have long recognized the importance of using checklists to ensure that all steps in preparing to fly or land a plane have been properly attended to.  For pilots the issue is a critical one – safety.  But checklists can also be used to train employees in the proper steps for any important process or event.  A quick list of the things to be done with a place to check off that it was completed is a simple, yet effective way to make sure employees understand and do what is required.

The checklist is also important for establishing accountability for any important action – say securing the club at the end of the day, properly completing opening duties, ensuring the cleanliness of kitchens and bathrooms, and completion of any action with safety implications.  The responsible employee checks off each step as it’s completed, then signs and dates the checklist indicating that all steps were completed.  The manager or supervisor can then spot check to ensure that the work was properly done.  If not, she knows who is responsible for the failure.

Solutions don’t have to be complicated; they just have to work.  Using checklists is an effective way of handling many recurring responsibilities within the club.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Authority, Responsibility, and Accountability

Monday, April 18th, 2011

“Authority,” “Responsibility,” and “Accountability” are three terms that are used frequently in connection with positions of leadership.  What exactly do these terms mean and how are they related?

Authority is defined as “a power or right, delegated or given.”  In this sense, the person or company that hires a leader vests him with the authority to manage or direct a particular operation. It is expected that this individual will exercise the full scope of his authority to properly, profitably, and professionally manage the operation.

Responsibility is defined as “a particular burden of obligation upon a person who is responsible.”  Responsible is defined as “answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power or control.”  Therefore, a leader is responsible and has responsibility for the operation for which she has been given authority.

Accountability is defined as “subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; answerable.”  A leader is answerable for the performance of the operation for which he has authority and is responsible.

Authority may be delegated to subordinates.  For example, a general manager may delegate the authority to collect delinquent accounts to the controller.  The controller then has the right to perform tasks associated with collection, such as sending past due notices, charging finance charges on delinquent accounts, and recommending bad debt write-off for seriously overdue accounts.  However, even though the general manager delegated the authority, he or she still has the responsibility to ensure that collections are done properly.  As the saying goes, “You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.” Even when you delegate, you are ultimately responsible for your organization’s performance.

As a leader, you are accountable for those functions and tasks that have been delegated to you.  Likewise, should you delegate any functions or tasks to subordinates, you must ensure that they are held accountable for properly performing them.  This requires that you properly explain your expectations to subordinates.

This is most easily done when performance parameters are objective, say telling an advertising executive she must retain her major accounts or else she’ll be replaced.  More often, performance parameters are more complex and involve subjective evaluations.  Regardless of the difficulties in defining these parameters, it must be done.  Otherwise, there is no way to hold a subordinate accountable for results.  It is for this reason that performance standards must be defined.  Often, detailed benchmarks, consistently and conscientiously tracked over time, will provide the most meaningful measures of performance.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2009

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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