The “reluctant manager” position

As any good hotel manager will tell you, things are good and will only get better as long as he/she is around. Being confident in one’s own abilities comes with the territory and that is most certainly a good thing. What they will not tell you, however, is how much time they spend daily on strengthening their professional core, updating their knowledge and skills needed to be the person running things. The hospitality industry is one of the most dynamic to be a part of nowadays and the never-ending technological evolution requires you to be up-to-speed if you want to keep up with the competition. In all fairness, many of the GMs out there work hard, are fully invested and, at the end of the day, results speak for themselves. However, there are also the ones that understand the position in quite a different manner.

Time is of the essence

Now, time really is a deficient commodity when it comes to running a hotel or a big restaurant and you feel like you’re always on the run. So who has the time to read case studies and learn about how all the new Google’s marketing gimmicks work, right ..? Well, not quite. The ability to delegate should be engraved in the resume of a good manager. One-man-in-charge-of-everything strategy has a very short lifespan, much too often with the same devastating outcome. Investing in several right-hand people will eventually produce that extra time needed for professional and personal development.

But good help is hard to find .. and train .. and keep

Stating the obvious being pointless, I’m not going to dwell on how good manpower is hard to find. If you’re a small and medium sized business, you have one of two choices: attract and recruit ready-made personal from another establishment (if you have the resources, that is) or invest in developing your own people. The latter requires less money but more time and effort, as well as a stable partner to deliver the coaching and guidance. Only the problem is, managers often don’t want to complicate their lives, especially if the results are about to come to light further down the road. Instead, they will explain how a trained staff is more inclined to leave and they would need to start all over again.

Safe distance

When offered professional guidance in optimizing certain areas of operations or service, managers adopt the “reluctant stance” mainly for two reasons: One, they are not willing to admit that there is space for improvement and claim that things are doing fine as it is, thus avoid explaining to the boss-man why they need to pay someone else to do something that’s in their job description; And two, they don’t want extra to-dos in their already packed agenda. By keeping safe distance between them and the dynamics of change, they operate from a comfort zone, keep the hotel afloat and wait for the next tour bus or reservations from OTA to arrive.

The magic formula?!

A more tangible example might be of some help. For a GM of a mid-sized hotel developing a good marketing strategy might seem like a real chore. No CMO to delegate it to and not too familiar with the current marketing trends, because you’re too busy counting sheets and towels, remember? Hotel hits a plateau and you’re asked to sell more beds. What you do is start cannibalizing the profit margins by dropping the prices on and similar “partners in crime”. After all, they are the ones that drive all the traffic to your hotel, something is better than nothing, right? Those 15% in commission are inevitable and suddenly that “special placed-on-top member for 10% extra” program seems like the tool for the job … You end up with just a fraction of the profit you were going to make if you had a good marketing strategy in place. Sum up all lost revenue from ventures of the kind within the past 3 years and you will not even come close to the potential investment in marketing coaching sessions and seminars. If money is no object but time is, you can always source your marketing operations to a specialized company and seek consultation on how to loosen up your timetable.

Either way, working hard is not what a GM does, working smart is. Invest in knowledge and pass it on to the people that work with you. Avoid shortcuts to sales and think long-term marketing, because the competition does. And most importantly, being reluctant to change is never listed under personal qualities in any application resume for a manager position.