Post by Robert Cole, President & CEO, Hospitality Ventures Management Group
It’s no secret that the hotel industry is an extremely people-intensive business, so it’s imperative to success as a hotel owner or operator that your team performs at a peak level. As a second-generation hotelier who has been working in a hotel operations or management capacity since 1984, I’ve seen the good, the bad and frankly, the ugly, in leadership in our business.
Here are some things I have learned over the years about leaders who get the most from what is usually a very diverse group of people.
Be the keeper of the culture
As CEO, you’re the visionary who not only creates the culture, but cultivates and keeps it in tact as your company inevitably evolves. Your team should have a clear understanding of your expectations and the company’s culture and how it influences their actions and behavior. Create a strategic plan that identifies your strengths and maps out ways to grow that are consistent with those strengths and your culture. And, that includes knowing what deals and people you should not pursue—avoiding potentially damaging moves that clash with your culture.
Hire people smarter than you
Hire people who are top-notch in their discipline or specialty area and essentially get out of their way. Yes, give them the necessary resources, support and guidance, and be very clear about your expectations, but let them make their own decisions. Nobody likes to be micro-managed, especially peak performers.
Adapt your style
Everyone is motivated differently and it’s incumbent upon you as the CEO to know the unique individuals that make up your team and how to inspire their best effort every day. No one management style works for everyone, so customize your approach for each individual.
Set measurable goals, establish accountability
Peak performers relish the opportunity to show what they can do, so challenge them with tangible, measurable goals and re-visit them often. Define the key indicators of your business, measure them continually and clearly communicate results on a frequent basis. Everyone needs goals, even your most seasoned team members.
CEOs tend to focus on the negative, heaping attention on underperforming people and properties while sometimes failing to truly appreciate our stars. Make a habit of recognizing top performers. They’ll appreciate the praise, and their success stories might just spur others to step up their game as well.
Insist on improvement
Resting on your laurels is a surefire way to throw your team into a slump. I believe that one of the main responsibilities of a CEO in our industry is to constantly analyze the organization’s infrastructure, results and individual properties to identify opportunities for improvement. If a hotel is running a 140 percent RevPAR Index, what can your team do to get it to 150 percent? This insatiable insistence on continual improvement is a prime performance motivator and a critical component in the transformation of a good hotel company into a great one.