Professional Development for You Means Lending a Hand to Someone Else Along the Way

The title of this column says it all – working to help others succeed will help us as individuals to move forward on our own professional development.

Each of us has our own goals and dreams.   Some of us have done better at visualizing what Stephen Covey called “the end in mind”, and most of us have identified at least some specific goals in our career.  These goals could include a specific title, a position in a certain organization, a financial target or any combination thereof.   Over the years in our career, we have likely achieved some of those goals but we often have failed to continue updating the plan and we become distracted by daily incidentals that have minor and temporary value.

Tom Peters and Robert Waterman more than 25 years ago identified a proven way to motivate both managers and their teams.  In Search of Excellence offered many ideas but one in particular had a major impact on me.  I championed that idea as a manager and executive in my operational and consulting career.  I can assure you that if you follow this action step in a positive and professional way, your organization will lower staff mistakes, reduce overall turnover, see a boost in staff morale and an increase in staff suggestions and engagement in their delivery of service.

Public companies communicate regularly with their shareholders in a variety of formats and frequency, but they ALL provide quarterly updates of revenues, profitability and other results.  Monthly would be too often and not meaningful and semi-annually is too infrequent, allowing too much time to pass without a snapshot of results,  Public company reports are delivered quarterly  because there is enough time to see trends, take continuing or corrective action and address the important issues.

In hospitality, successful organizations recognize that it is the overall experience of the guest that builds loyalty, ahead of earned points, free rooms or a complimentary glass of wine.  The main ingredient in delivering that experience is a topic I have covered the last six weeks – it is the commitment to service by the front line staff at your hotel, restaurant or other hospitality business.

I am (again) recommending this action step to every hotel and restaurant general manager and hospitality corporate executive, because I have seen the results when used properly.

  1. Meet with all of your department heads tomorrow and advise them of a new communication process designed to assist them meet their department goals and this will not require any more work for them
  2. Within 12 hours of this meeting with the department heads, announce in a positive manner to all staff that performance reviews will now be conducted for everyone on a regular, quarterly basis.  In this announcement, it needs to be identified that this is a positive step aimed at improving the overall success of every individual on staff, as well as the business.
  3. Beginning no later than 7 days after the meeting with the department heads, the reviews should begin within a planned cycle.

I have heard some of the hesitations to embrace this before and I have found them to be inaccurate and an excuse by many to avoid change.  Listed below are some of those voiced hesitations, with my rebuttal:

  • This activity creates much more work for department heads.

Fact: this does not create more work for department heads, the GM or corporate executives because this new practice is only formalizing discussion and making it more personal with the one-on-one interactions.

  • This will cost the company a lot of money that we don’t have.

Fact: The quarterly discussions do not need to change any of the financial arrangements or practices currently in use, unless you want or find you need to change them.  Annual financial adjustments can remain in place if that is a solid business decision, but what you will find is more honest discussion and the uncovering of problem areas that can often be addressed quickly when known by all.

  • This will take too much time away from our other responsibilities.

Fact:  Hospitality is about service and the guest experience and that is everyone’s responsibility.  If department heads and managers are not interacting with their staff, there is a major problem.

  • This will confuse the staff because we have never done it that way before.

Fact: The first discussion may seem unusual because it represents a change from what was the norm, but our staffs today are well versed in trends in the workforce and have probably heard of more frequent evaluations before.  When the real reason is explained that these quarterly discussions are designed to help everyone beginning now, the apprehension of meeting “with the boss” dissipates quickly and seldom returns.

I first embraced this action step as general manager at a 300-room business class hotel.  The property was showing its age and its off-center location did not provide an automatic referral center.  I can share with you that this action step of improving communication built trust among many long-time staff (with their new general manager) and helped the entire business to outperform the market for two years, even with the property’s physical limitations.

“No matter what the situation, (the great manager’s) first response is always to think about the individual concerned and how things can be arranged to help that individual experience success.” Marcus Buckingham, The One Thing You Need to Know

The problems you are facing today are yours, but the solutions and the means to tackle those problems do not have to be yours alone.

What are you going to do, beginning tomorrow?

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week:   Focus on Professional Development

The Guest Experience today is as meaningful as any other factor in guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Housekeeping and engineering teams can contribute in significant ways, including guest contact and interaction.        Take some time for group sharing of ideas and recognition.

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for my 2010 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings will focus on a wide variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my “HOW TO” articles and HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS. My segments Lessons from the Field, Hotel Common Sense and Principles for Success will be featured at appropriate times in the year as well.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements ………….

And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium ( of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry. is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.   Special introductory pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.

Consulting Expertise and Research Interest

  1. Sales Management and training
  2. Turn-around and revenue management
  3. Professional Development for the Organization and the Individual
  4. Customer Service
  5. Making Cultural Diversity Real
  6. Developing Academic Hospitality programs
  7. Medical Lodging Consultants

If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention. Your Hospitality Resource for Hotel Owners, Innkeepers, Managers and Associations

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