By Nirmalan Nagendra
During my long hotel career, I have come to realise the value of team-work and of staff. Associates have to be hired for aptitude and attitude. All candidates are qualified and most have more than two degrees, with most eager to get to the top. Dependable, multi-skilled staff are few and far between.
In administrative departments in particular, we must have few employees with a good attitude, that are multi-skilled and remunerate them well. In all departments the secret to success is to employ staff who are multi-skilled. It is the quality and not quantity that counts.
Many years ago when I worked in the Caribbean for a 5star exclusive hotel, there were times that the Finance Department also had to do guest check-ins on the weekend when there was an influx of guests at the front desk.
There was a President a few years ago, an average actor who was a great leader, who surrounded himself with people smarter than himself, but had the vision and the self-esteem to listen and deliver which made him a great leader. I believe you are only as good as the people around you.
We must take great effort in hiring the correct person for each job. People do not realise the cost of hiring the wrong person and repeating the entire process. Overseas, the cost of hiring an employee from overseas, settling him/her in, paying for their work permits, training them can be amount to half of the employees base salary.
When we have the correct employee, we must nurture him/her, have periodic appraisals and congratulate the employee when they are doing well, and coach them on their short comings. It is imperative that an employer not wait till a high performing employee resigns because of a better salary offer in order to value their staff. All the time and money spent on training that employee then leaves with the employee to a competitor.
Succession planning is also important. As managers, we must learn to cultivate self-esteem in our staff and train staff to take over. Remember each one of us is unique and we must cultivate high self-esteem.
I was once on a 3-week leadership training course at a University for General Managers and budding Deputy General Managers. We all expected a lot of insight from experienced Hoteliers, though when it concluded, we found that the key takeaways were around how to value your employees, taking care of your guests and the resulting guest satisfaction would lead to growth in the top and bottom lines.
(– The writer is a hotelier with 36 years experience in five-star chain hotels in the Middle East, Caribbean, USA and Singapore, having been Director Finance and Deputy General Manager. He can be contacted at nirmalan_nagendra at yahoo.com –)