Why Are Some Hotel Companies Plagued By Management Turnover?
By Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA
Monday, 3rd April 2006
Is this systematic or poor performance?

One owner asked it best: "Why do our good managers leave and weaker managers stay?" "We just can't seem to find good managers that stay with us." For this owner and others, it's time to reflect on your company's management style. For some people, this process can be a little painful, but one cannot fix problems without first identifying them. 

I don't think it takes a genius to figure out that management "turn-over" is a symptom; and not just a process. It is generally a reflection of deeper illnesses. Are you one of those owners/managers, still in denial? Are you blaming your turn-over woes on the hiring process; seeking some secret method of hiring people who will stay instead of jumping ship just a few months down the road? Have you considered that it could be the environment you have established and much less the quality of your new hires?

Experts agree that excessive turn-over is a problem which inhibits progress and destroys morale. I know of a company with six hotels, yet, as of just a few months ago, has only one general manager with more than one year on the job. Some of their hotels have had four, five, or six managers in just a couple of years. Does this reflect a serious flaw in the hiring process or, more so, a cultural and/or leadership problem?

Steven Covey, in his renowned book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", states that "TRUST is the highest form of human motivation".  Many negative things happen when trust is not a part of your company or hotel culture. If trust is the highest form of human motivation, then it follows that the lack of trust must be the lowest, most negative form. 

Trust means having the confidence that property managers want to perform their very best. Trust means that the company recognizes their obligation to provide a clear goal, guidance, and resources to support its managers. Trust means allowing managers to develop their own style and procedures to reach their goals. Trust fosters an atmosphere of creativity, innovation, and job loyalty. 

Now there are many possible reasons for management turn-over and it usually results from a combination of several contributing ills, however, the most common cause of turn-over is a lack of trust and a fixation on the need to micromanage people. 

Micromanagers all have one thing in common; they only trust their own decisions, their own procedures, and constantly feel "If I want it done right, I need to tell them how to do it". What causes them to feel this way? Usually, it comes from a complete distrust of their managers' ability to accomplish the tasks assigned to them. It's ironic that most micromanagers have never even performed the job they prefer to micromanage. They are fixed on maintaining control; a lack of trust.

Through the years, hotel companies have developed many benchmark reports to determine progress, or lack of it; P&L statements, labor reports, sales reports, forecast reports, food and beverage reports, and others. Have clear goals been set in all the performance areas? Have systems been set in place, which allow managers to apply their own tasks and procedures to achieve these mutually set goals? Micromanagers feel that only they know the right way to do things. 

These companies prefer hands-on corporate management to not only tell their hotel managers what to do but also to tell them, task-by-task, how to do it. Some of you have been victims of this form of hands-on micromanager; so I don't need to describe how it feels to be directed task-by-task. Personal innovation is destroyed and individual growth and development cease to exist; morale heads south. 

If you have been competent in your hiring process, hired accomplished managers, let them innovate; you could learn something.

Arrogance, as opposed to confidence, is common with micromanagers and contributes to and supports their feelings that only they know how to get the job done. Companies, led by micromanagers, never experience the wonderful results possible when innovation and trust is a part of the company culture. They are constantly seeking people who will only do as they are told. For micromanagers, directing job tasks is easier than clearly defining goals, providing guidelines, supplying resources, and then giving managers the freedom to create their own methods to achieve those goals. 

Now I know that there may be some micromanagers shaking their heads as they read this article. Micromanagers rarely recognize their own traits. Hands-on micromanagers rarely ask questions; they prefer to dictate tasks. They are generally obsessed with reading reports yet rarely accept the veracity of the reports they read. They get involved in the details of specific tasks instead of providing leadership and guidance. 

Trust is a powerful quality. Develop trust for the competency of your managers. Provide them with a clear picture of the goal, guidance, access to resources, and a good benchmarking system to measure effectiveness; but leave the methods to them. It may take a little more time to set up "Stewardships" with your managers, but you will be rewarded with happier, more loyal, and more productive managers. 

Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA
Hotel Marketing Coach

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