Building a Team: Leaders Share Their Experiences at CYBER HITEC

Hotel team

The 2020 CYBER HITEC began the first day of its virtual conference on Oct. 27. On day one—during a panel entitled, “Build a Team—What Do Leaders Look For?”—Mark Holzberg, president and CEO of Cloud5 Communications, and Alex Alt, senior vice president and general manager for Oracle Hospitality, shared their insights on what leaders seek when building an effective team. Moderated by Richard Siegel of Hospitality Upgrade/Hotel Online, panelists agreed that bringing together a team in this unprecedented time comes with plenty of challenges.

Alt and Holzberg began by elaborating on what they have been experiencing in their business over last six months and how they have adapted.

Holzberg explained that for him and his team, the most important thing was understanding the changes. He added that leaders have to focus on what they do all time and guide their team. “We had to make sure we were communicating and communing well with our staff. We had to be direct, transparent, and honest.”

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Holzberg added that his team had to throw away their 2020 plan and learn to adapt. This meant adding contingency plans based on what direction the pandemic would ultimately lead them. “We expected the worst, but we were lucky—our worst-case scenario plan did not come to fruition. We were able to manage through it,” he said.

“One of the things our leadership team really focused on was emotional intelligence,” Holzberg added, explaining that leaders must practice patience, empathy, and accountability, especially in times like these. “You need to give your employees flexibly but also predictably. Communicate with them early about what may be coming next so people can plan for that.”

On the customer side, Holzberg explained that hoteliers should maintain good relationships with guests and show them they are in this unprecedented time together. “At some point, we’ll be beyond this, so it’s really important to be organized and positioned well with employees, stakeholders, and customers for when COVID is a thing of the past.”

Alt added that at Oracle Hospitality, leaders are focused on empathy and customer engagement. “In many cases, the people to whom we are providing products and services, it is not just the annual plan that is at risk—it’s their livelihoods. So understanding that going into conversations is critically important,” he said.

Panelists went on to discuss what leaders look for in job seekers. Holzberg said that starting at the ground level is a great way for young people to enter the industry and learn through practice. “This is an unbelievable industry—whether you’re on the technology side or not—particularly for employees who are fresh out of school.” Alt mentioned one of the most important things for prospective employees to do is research. “You can tell who knows the trends of the industry when interviewing someone,” he added.

Alt encouraged perseverance through these hard times. “I always tell anyone who’s working any job: Run to the fire. When you run to the crisis in whatever role that you’re in, you’re going to learn more than you ever would in any steady-state environment.”

 


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