Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

Listening to the Line

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Because of my interest in military history, I frequently come across the impact of leadership as the essential ingredient and foundation for winning military campaigns.  I recently finished reading General Eisenhower’s Crusade in Europe recounting the Allied military efforts in Europe in World War II.

His perspective is unique in that, as the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the European Theater, Eisenhower’s authority eventually encompassed 3 million men and women from over a dozen countries in both fighting and support roles on land, sea, and in the air.  The enterprise itself was, in size and scope, the greatest single endeavor of the 20th Century – the defeat of Hitler and the Axis Powers.

While military leadership is distinct in purpose – the winning of wars; the broader role of inspiring and directing followers to the accomplishment of a goal or venture is universal in application and entails the same needs that we as club managers face daily in directing a service organization – how to get the best from our workers.

Among the many lessons to be learned in Eisenhower’s book is the following quote,

“There is, among the mass of individuals who carry rifles in war, a great amount of ingenuity and initiative.  If men can naturally and without restraint talk to their officers, the products of their resourcefulness become available to all.  Moreover, out of the habit grows mutual confidence, a feeling of partnership that is the essence of esprit de corps.”

This observation resonated with my firm belief that an open and unimpeded flow of information up from employees to the leaders is just as important as the direction and guidance that goes from the top of the organization to its line staff.  This exchange of ideas and information can only come about when leaders at every level inherently recognize that such openness is a critical success factor for the organization.

But senior leadership must understand that this recognition does not spring by happy and universal coincidence from the minds and consciousness of subordinate managers – it must be taught and modeled continually and consistently to everyone who fills a leadership role.  Without this effort, the critical concepts of success will not be faithfully communicated to those who serve the club’s members and, conversely, the ideas and innovation of front line employees will never reach the decision makers.  The end result is a lack of mutual confidence and that spirit of partnership so essential to any effective group effort.

Bottom Line:  To be successful in the challenging world of club management and to avoid organizational dysfunction, a leader needs every conceivable advantage.  None is so important as good leadership and its attendant openness to ideas and innovation.  In the words of Bill Robinson, noted business, technology, and entrepreneurship journalist, “To be able to regularly solicit, capture and execute upon the strong ideas of those on the front lines who really know what the customers want will be the panacea for the 21st century business world.”

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!

 

 

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!

 

The Shift Log

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Because clubs are open 6 or 7 days a week for extended hours, it is a challenge for supervisors to consistently communicate important information to employees working varying shifts.  In addition, things that happen on one shift frequently need to be passed on to those working later shifts.  Too often someone doesn’t get the word resulting in service breakdowns, missed instructions, and the perception that service staffs don’t know what they’re doing.

All of this can be avoided by using the simple expediency of shift logs.  These are nothing more than a notebook where the supervisor or employees record information that must be passed on to each other and to later shifts.  Entries can include:

  • Information or instructions from the supervisor that all staff need to know, such as a new policy or procedure, announcement of a departmental meeting or training session, or reminders to close out all POS tickets before leaving.
  • Information that needs to be passed from one shift to another, such as Mr. Smith’s party coming in tonight has ordered a special birthday cake, or Mrs. Jones called to say she left her umbrella on her golf cart and will be by to pick it up tonight, or John can’t work his Friday night shift and can anyone cover for him.
  • Information that employees need to pass on to their supervisor, such as Dr. Williams stopped by to say that his is now expecting 18 people for his private dinner tomorrow night, or Mary called in sick, or a package was delivered for the supervisor and is behind the pro shop counter.

The key to success in using a shift log rests on the following practices:

  • The log book must always be kept in a designated location where the supervisor and all employees can find it quickly and easily.
  • The supervisor and all employees must read and initial all entries in the log since they last worked.
  • While the log is not an appropriate place to complain about management, members or other employees, problems encountered by employees should be recorded so that the supervisor can contact upset members, discuss matters with involved employees; take care of any unresolved issues, and design policies and procedures to systematically address problems. Often, it is a great source for issues that need to be discussed at departmental or shift meetings.

Formatting the shift log is simple.  Enter today’s date on the first page.  The supervisor and employees make any necessary entries on the page.  The next day, the first person to open the log book draws a line across the page under the last entry from the previous day and enters the new day’s date.  After reading all entries since last working, the supervisor and employees initial each day’s entries to indicate that they have read the material.  This pattern is repeated until the notebook is filled and replaced by a new book.

Shift logs work best in departments with extended hours and multiple employee shifts.  Such areas in club operations would include:

  • Food and beverage operations
  • Pro shop or retail operations
  • Cart barn operations
  • Lodging front desks
  • Concierge desks
  • Housekeeping and maintenance departments

Supervisors who institute shift logs will find departmental communications to be easier, more thorough, and more consistent.  It also is an excellent way to encourage employees to suggest ideas to improve operations (though such entries will quickly dry up if the supervisor never discusses or implements these ideas).   Given that communications is such a critical element of leadership and setting up a shift log is so easy, supervisors should waste no time in instituting this best practice in their operations.  They’ll find it a great tool for better communications, improved leadership, and the efficiency of their operations.

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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