In the hospitality industry, where personal relationships take the lead, a key connection between the guest and the hotel ensures success and loyalty. This applies to internal connections as well, beginning with mentor/mentee relationships. A hospitality mentorship may take on a variety of different forms with different players, but the one common denominator for an effective mentorship program is customization and adaptability.
The Investment: The Mentee
An obvious starting point for any good mentorship begins with the mentee. Although the project may seem to center around outcomes that will benefit the hotel—additional staffing in a needed area or possibly increased guest satisfaction scores with staff changes—the mentorship program should focus on the development of the mentee. Creating an adaptable environment which will “fit” a particular mentee’s qualities will set the stage for a successful experience.
Throughout the program, individual input is crucial to creating effective synergy. Valid collaboration should include setting guidelines and expectations for both parties involved. Open channels of communication and regular check-ins encourage mentees to explore their interests and request help, preventing burnout and creating more passionate employees. Ideally, the program should be tweaked to the mentee’s capabilities throughout each assignment, with just the right measure of challenge added in to promote growth.
A good mentorship, just like a good customer service experience, must be customized. The mentor must be able to effectively read and react to the mentee’s non-verbal cues, they must be able to communicate both theories and practical skills, and in the end, they must be able to exceed the mentee’s expectations.
The Added Benefit: The Mentor
During the mentorship and through the growth of the mentee, there are inherent benefits to the mentor. First is the lesson learned in guiding the mentee to assess a situation, determine the options, and take decisive action. Reviewing the event in retrospect can be a powerful learning tool for the mentor.
The process of mentoring also nudges the mentor out of their routine and beyond their comfort zone. For every good manager, there is a level of complacency that should be avoided. Taking on a strong role as a mentor allows the manager to fine tune their own skills and continue their own growth. The mentor is impelled to share their knowledge and experience while working on a higher level of skills such as active listening, ability to motivate, and patience. A successful mentorship program affords the manager a renewed and re-energized feeling of purpose and leads to a level of increased personal satisfaction.
The Outcome: The Property
In addition to the positive outcomes for both the mentor and mentee, hotels also reap long-term benefits from well-design mentorships. The positioning of a mentorship program provides the hotel with a more satisfied workforce, thereby decreasing the turnover rates. Every successful brand has, at one time or another, seen or desired the benefits of loyalty. The importance of this phenomenon must also encompass hotel associates. Investing in their growth through mentorship may create similar loyalty to their employer.
Strong mentorship programs encompass the hands-on experience that is often unobtainable for those coming up in their careers. There is a plethora of talent in any workforce, but in hospitality, actual skills are needed for advancement. In today’s workforce environment, it has become crucial for hotels to be able to provide an avenue for learning these skills. Overlooking this can be to a property’s own detriment, as current generations lack the fear of changing jobs that was prevalent in previous generations. They have, however, embraced the idea of being mentored. Ultimately, we must learn to follow the Yoda-Skywalker example. As Yoda said, “Always pass on what you have learned.”
About the Author
Ashley Collins is a senior consultant at TCRM.