It all starts with leadership. Strong and stable leadership is the single most important requirement to successful hospitality operations. While there are many styles of leadership suited to any industry or endeavor, experience over many years in hotels, resorts, and private clubs makes it clear that a service-based approach to leadership works best in the service industry.
Service-Based Leadership differs from other leadership styles in its focus on serving the needs of employees to provide them with the proper tools, training, resources, motivation, and empowerment to serve customers. The importance of this support can be inferred by the question:
“How can employees provide quality service if they are not properly served by the leadership, example, and ongoing support of their managers?”
Being a serviced-based leader requires many different skills, but two are so critical to providing quality service that they bear special mention. First is the will to make it happen. Building a Remarkable Service Infrastructure is not a one-time event or a single set of instructions to employees. It is a challenging and ongoing endeavor that may take years to fully implement. Building a Remarkable Service Infrastructure entails changing people’s attitudes and behaviors.
Even in a start-up operation where there is no tradition or ingrained institutional habits to overcome, newly hired managers and employees bring their own service experiences with them. Given the relatively poor and inconsistent state of service throughout the industry, most often they simply bring habits practiced in previous jobs. This multitude of experiences and habits must be transformed into a unified system that supports the discipline of quality.
The second necessary skill is communication. There is a tremendous amount of detail involved in hospitality operations. An open flow of information all around makes it easier to communicate expectations, give daily direction, uncover issues and problems, and ensure that all employees are on the same page. Communication bottlenecks, usually caused by uncommunicative and aloof managers, impede efficient operations and make it harder for everyone to do their jobs.
To build the infrastructure, the leader must communicate service values at every opportunity and continually reinforce the culture of service. The leader must be both patient and persistent. Instructions and reinforcement will have to be given over and over again. Training and implementation must be repeated at intervals until every employee gets the message and provides consistent quality service in every situation.
While it is recognized that the General Manager must be a strong leader, it is also critical that the operation’s subordinate managers and supervisors are also trained to be strong service-based leaders. While some of a leader’s skill-set seems to be inborn, such as confidence and an analytical mind, and others are developed early in life, like judgment and basic communication abilities, the great majority of a leader’s skills are learned. But unless junior managers are systematically trained to develop the skills which have to do with building and sustaining meaningful work relationships, their leadership development will be haphazard, and the vision and message of service will not be communicated consistently or faithfully to line employees.
Upon this leadership foundation, then, are the components of the Remarkable Service Infrastructure – those organizational systems and disciplines which comprise the building blocks that lead to Remarkable Service.
Excerpted from The Quest for Remarkable Service
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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.
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