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Opinion: invest in training those who matter

Murray Wright

Executive coaching and consulting professional and former hotelier, Murray Wright, says hotels should invest their training dollars in the people who make the difference.

Wondering what training to provide that will deliver the service your customers are looking for? What training will boost your bottom line and keep owners happy? Investing in your frontline managers beyond technical skills can deliver on many fronts providing opportunity for leadership and excellence to be expressed at all levels in the business.

In today’s dynamic environment when staff are not managed correctly the cost of getting it wrong is tangible. We see this in high payroll cost, lost revenue, lost opportunities, as well as the hard to measure cost of negative feedback via social media and online reviews. Not to mention the costs associated with high staff turnover and resources tied up in recruiting and up-skilling new staff.

In recent years training provided in hospitality has often been dictated by what government grants supported and not necessarily by what the business really needed. With the government subsidies winding down, there is now an opportunity to take a fresh look at what is done for our front line managers.

Department heads and supervisors are perhaps the most important resource in making it all happen, for guests and employees alike. Their effectiveness has a direct impact on the bottom line.

Delivering great service, engaging and retaining employees, is not only about technical skills and better systems and procedures, it is about equipping the frontline managers with the skills that enable them to move from being hardworking managers to being leaders who engage their team and deliver great service.

All too often, we have taken hardworking people, given them more responsibility but not the skills to enable them to manage themselves and others. Without the right skills, they work harder rather than smarter to do the job, frustrate team members and deliver poor results in terms of service delivery and payroll management. It is a case of crash or crash through. As a result we often lose good people: managers, who with the right support could have been great managers; and their staff who leave in frustration at the poor line management.

Whilst there is certainly part of the hospitality workforce that is transitory, if people are given a better experience when employed then we would surely convert more people to a career in hospitality. It is the front line managers who have the most influence on whether someone feels welcome and taken care of and willing to stay and therefore how they perform the job: hey do the general inductions, welcome new recruits on their first day on the job and guide them on a daily basis. If we are honest with ourselves, there is very little invested in this important resource.

By giving front line managers the awareness and ability to manage themselves effectively and the necessary people skills they will get the best out of their staff.

We need to enable them to build trust, solve problems, facilitate change and satisfy the needs of staff, customers and business owners alike. This includes giving them the skills to plan effectively, set priorities, give feedback in a timely manner and have the difficult conversations to build high performing teams with motivated individuals. Front line managers need to learn how to work smarter rather than harder.

It does require investment in time and money and it is not a one off training session. To be successful this kind of learning has to be supported by an extended training program that creates individual awareness and gives people the opportunity to reflect and learn from the application of their new skills on the job. This approach builds the foundations for ongoing personal and professional and develops the leaders of the future increasing engagement and leadership at every level.

As many studies show, organisations with high employee engagement consistently deliver higher returns to shareholders. So why not invest time and money in developing your front line management? You know it will pay dividends over time.

Murray is the Principal of Murray Wright and Associates and can be contacted on murray@murraywright.com 

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