The winter holiday season means anything but vacation for hospitality industry workers and managers. With nearly three quarters of Americans planning to travel between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, hospitality managers need to be prepared for crowds of tired travelers, stressed employees, and operational structures that will be pushed to their limits. Here are five hospitality management life hacks to help you not just survive the holidays, but thrive in them.
Develop a ground-up perspective: know employee needs and challenges
Knowing the ins and outs of your employees’ jobs has numerous important advantages. Foremost, familiarity with the needs and challenges of each position allows you as a manager to better support and lead your staff. You’ll be able to anticipate obstacles that may arise when business hits a peak, and plan solutions to the myriad bottlenecks that can occur during a rush of guests. Further, spending time in the trenches, such as taking on a floor shift here or there, will improve your communication with the staff as they get a chance to give feedback on work first hand and in person.
Practice smart delegation: share vision, establish boundaries, and follow-up
Many managers miss out on the benefits of effective delegation requires time investment up front. But the payoff of such an investment in terms of productivity and efficiency is enormous. Delegating saves managers time and energy, builds trust with employees, and develops an overall stronger team. Before the holiday crush begins, establish your own structure of smart delegation. This begins with sharing a clear vision for the objectives and outcomes of a task. Next, establish boundaries and parameters for completing the task. This doesn’t necessarily mean a detailed walkthrough, and certainly not micromanaging; rather, set boundaries to help employees avoid pitfalls and stay on track to success. Finally, follow-up on task progress. Recognize employee success, encourage progress, and mentor employees through obstacles.
Online time tracking tools and apps are great for managing delegation. When managing a large, busy staff, who is working on what can get fuzzy. Use an online time tracker or scheduling system to manage employee tasks, progress, and time management. This will help you immensely with follow-up and leading your team to manage their time (as well as yours!) more effectively.
Schedule time to address customer requests, comments, and complaints
As a hospitality manager, you should be the leader and model of customer service excellence. In particular, this means modeling a proactive attitude toward customer feedback. Service recovery on customer complains is akin to putting out fires, so why not schedule time to prevent the fires in the first place? When holiday business is in full swing it’s easy to get lost in daily operations and staff management, but scheduling a little time into your day to monitor customer feedback can save you hours of damage control later. Set aside focused time to address even the smallest customer request, comments, and complaints, and such smoke is unlikely to become a full blown fire later on.
Increase frequency and quality of communication with employees
To be effective, employees need vision and guidance from management, and they only get this through clear, thoughtful communication. As the winter travel season brings additional customers, staff, and general busyness to the hospitality industry, managers need to increase effective communication in order to keep up with dynamic customer needs. Consider outlining clear shift goals and following up on progress each day. Better yet, build such meetings and check-ins into an online scheduling system that provides instant mobile notifications when changes are made. This will keep everyone on the same page no matter how busy a shift gets. Also, let employees in on higher level goals – even if an employee is not directly responsible for a specific sales or customer satisfaction goal, knowing the company’s objectives will help him or her to make better decisions and react appropriately when unexpected challenges arise.