Inside Out Building Great General Managers.
By Ewa Kossakowska
Sunday, 5th December 2010
As hotel consultants we work with hotel general managers all the time and after many years in the industry I still get a buzz from the people I work with; seeing their faces, their smiles, serving them and being served by them, to see them happy and be happy with them.

Maybe such a positive feeling can also be found in a factory, or an office, on a ship or down a Chilean coal mine. But the longer I am a hotel consultant, the more I think it is quite difficult for a hotel manager to move back from a managerial position to rediscover him/herself as a person and a leader.

Today we all seem to be hemmed in by the recession, bank refinancing, head office expectations, or by unemployment. It can all get a bit depressing and there is a real risk of losing our humanity.

For the hotel general manager, what's the answer? Here is a four point plan based on my 25 years of experience:

Step One
Look at how you treat yourself.

Do you like the way you are living life? Are you satisfied with your private life? If you are dissatisfied, you'll be unhappy, demotivated and full (or at least half full) of negative attitudes. How can you expect your hotel executive team and the other employees to become colleagues or friends? How can you expect your boss to respect you? Is it reasonable to expect your staff to trust your competencies all of the time?

I recommend that you look at life positively. You've got one chance at life. "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" so wrote John Lennon. Don't waste any time with days feeling down and negative.

Step Two
Look at how you treat your colleagues.

Are you respected by your team and all employees? By your Board of Directors and the non-executives? Are there gaps that even you will admit to?

Well then, work on closing those gaps. Start by treating all your colleagues more senior and less senior as if they were guests that you've invited into your home. Practice. And practice again because practice makes perfect.

Step Three
Look at how you treat the team.

How are you developing the team? How are you communicating with the team? How is the team communicating with you? Have you got a long-term service orientated team in place or are you limiting yourselves by focusing on short term targets? Are you training the team or just the team members? Are you delegating enough, too much, or too little? Are you supportive of the team when difficult times come round?

You'll succeed as a hotel general manager when the team around you, led by you, and of which you are a part, succeeds. Work hard at leading and being led; work hard at developing the team and being developed by the team.

Step Four
Look at how you treat the guest.

Do you go out of your way to understand the business from the outside in? What is the guest experience from the start of the journey (browsing) to the end of the journey (invoicing or posting a comment on TripAdvisor)? And where on that journey are the pain points that you and your team can address? Are your SOP's current and relevant to the expectations of tomorrow's guests? Are tonight's in-house guests your best advertisement for tomorrow's customers?

Everything you do to add value to the experience of each and every guest will repay itself; every guest that stays in your hotel and leaves without sensing that brand ownership represents a huge opportunity lost.

The hotel business is a people business. We work with people, we lead people, we are led by people and we serve people. Hotel managers that focus on themselves, on their role as team players and team members, on serving and being served, will be the general managers that excel.

The Hotel Solutions Partnership team of hotel consultants knows just how important it is to fully understand the challenges facing our clients. The Hotel Solutions Partnership offers specialist hotel consultancy services to hotel owners, operators, developers and investors, or those wishing to become involved in the hotel and hospitality industry.

It also aims to provide hotel consultancy with a very low carbon footprint. Our business model minimises the impact on the environment and, in respect of the travel necessary for an assignment, we buy an appropriate level of carbon offsets. Intelligent thinking, effective teaming and applied expertise form the foundation of the way we work with our clients, and the solutions we offer are tailored to meet the individual and special requirements of your hotel or hospitality business.

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