Hotel Common Sense – Philosophy #2


Hotel Common Sense –  Philosophy #2

Or, why the Open Door policy no longer works…

Anyone who is familiar with my full-length columns or shorter blogs knows that I  am a fan of Tom Peters.  There was a period when he may have believed his own PR press a bit too much in the mid 1990s, but I have found his messages to be thought provoking with sound counsel that we need to evolve and change or we will not be around much longer.

Peters, in his first major book with co-author Bob Waterman, took the theme of one of the world’s leading computer companies, Hewlett-Packard, and expanded the notion of truly reaching out to the people in our organizations who are responsible for the bulk of customer contact and building customer loyalty.  They challenged us to look at the symbol of the open door, which has ceased to be a meaningful statement.

The Open Door used to mean an associate (better word for employee) could come to us and ask for help in resolving problems with overtime, schedules, a day off or other personal matters.  I maintain that the Open Door policy, once the symbol of the manager or leader who really cared about their staff, is just not effective any more. The reason I state this is I feel we must realize that the hospitality industry has embraced social media and immediate communication exists among our staff as well as our guests.

While the above situations of personal matters still exist, the reality of today’s hectic pace is frequently more complicated. Drugs/alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, extended families and other more complicated issues are realities of today. While some of us might naively prefer to think there are not serious problems in the workplace today, we need only to look online at the latest “headlines” to see the truth.

The hospitality industry is certainly not immune to the pressures of today’s realities. This industry has ample temptations (bedrooms, alcohol, cash, and “power”) and the added stress of long hours and the pressure to be profitable in periods of diminishing returns can be a manager’s nightmare.

Is there a solution?

Consider the OPEN FLOOR contrasted with the OPEN DOOR.  I am not trying to use a simple play on words, but rather I am focusing on the fact that we cannot rely on our “good intentions” of the open door to be really in touch with our staff.  There will always be some people who seek us out as managers, but the truth is we must take to the OPEN FLOOR every day, beginning today as we read this.  By this, I mean setting our priorities on what most of us say and consider to be our most important asset: our staff. The OPEN FLOOR means something as basic as managers and department heads warmly greeting each member of the staff each shift. It means being in the  kitchen, the laundry, the receiving dock, the security patrol, with the sales team on calls and in the parking lot each day with the people whose livelihood takes place in those areas.

Paperwork, reports and online promotions have their place and need to be addressed and submitted on time. Some of it can be (and should be) delegated like many Embassy Suites try to do with their assistant general managers.  All reports should be periodically reviewed to see if they are still useful (to anyone) or if they have become just busywork.

Howard Feiertag, my friend and co-author of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD, once shared his observations of a downtown New York City hotel.  He commented how EVERYONE (general manager, front desk, bell staff, concierge, F&B, etc.) shook hands with their fellow workers and colleagues when they first saw each other daily.

Like they were “friends.”

Imagine that, and in New York City.

I need  to call Howard and ask him if he knows if they still do this.

MBWA – Management by Walking Around – try it!

Hotel Common Sense Philosophy #2 = Learn to listen more, talk less. Management by Walking Around is Priority #1.

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week:   Focus on MBWA

A challenge to every manager who is responsible for 5 or more people:  measure your in and out of the office time and at the end of the week, see how much time you spent ACTIVELY INTERACTING with your team.

The goal is 70% of your time out of the office – how did you do?

What will you do next week?

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