It is 2:00PM on a Monday. Beth, the salesperson, has decided she needs some caffeine so has stepped away from her desk. Her phone rings but nobody is there to answer it. Her co-workers don’t answer it either. They’re not in Sales. The phone rings again a few minutes later. Sarah isn’t back yet so it doesn’t get answered. Then, the phone rings in the GM’s office. It’s the same guest who has an emergency and is now angry because nobody would answer his call.
I have a great definition for functional silos.
“A functional silo exists when the business processes of a functional unit…focus inwardly on their functional objectives. This becomes problematic when the direction of focus creates barriers that do not serve a reasonable business purpose and negatively impacts the unit’s ability to serve their role in the broader mission of the organization.”
What exactly does that mean? Employees focus solely on the goals of their department. You cannot blame them. It is how they have been instructed. Many do not even know the goals of the organization as these are not always passed down through the ranks.
How can you make your hotel a guest and employee focused organization? Align the goals of each department with the goals of the hotel and then communicate this overall vision to the organization. For example, if a goal of the hotel is to increase scores by 10% then it is important that each department collaborate on how they can strive toward this same result. It is equally as important that the same department learn how their new goals affect the other units. Two departments may be required to join forces in order to be successful. “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” We all know the saying and we get it but we do not necessarily do anything about it. The first management function of a hotel General Manager is to plan. Unfortunately, due to the nature of their position, GM’s are usually stuck in perpetual “hair caught on fire” mode and are unable to sit down long enough to project out goals for the hotel. However, making the time to plan can reduce the insanity as then the GM and her staff has a goal and direction to head.
It is tough to know where to begin when deciding goals for your property. Begin with a simple vision. I live in Miami now. Out of the estimated 89 million tourists that visit every year, international visitors consisted of almost 7 million of this number. Interestingly enough, Brazilians were at the top of the market. The Brazilians are coming into their own, have money to spend and want to travel. Let’s say you want to target this market. Your vision might then be “our hotel is the preferred destination for Brazilian leisure travelers and their families.”
Now develop a mission statement based on your vision. It will be more specific and define what the hotel must do in order to accomplish this goal successfully. For example, “our mission is to appeal to the Brazilian leisure market by providing exceptional and unique hospitality service that speaks to their culture.”
Then, it is time to take that mission statement and create a long-range plan. Add a numerical value to this part. For example, “within five years 10% of the Brazilian leisure market that visits Miami Beach will lodge with us.”
You will then break that long-range plan down into manageable chunks. Begin with a one-year goal. In 12 months, what percentage of hotel visitors that book with you will be Brazilian? Don’t just stop with the one-year goal, project out your full five years. Remember to have the attitude that your goals are flexible and can be modified as you delve deeper into this plan. Next, develop an operating budget with anticipated revenue and expenses based on your short range goal of one year.
Critical is to develop a marketing plan that will give you an idea how you will create the revenue anticipated.
Last but certainly not least, it is imperative that you include your management in the development of this plan. Additionally, consider including some of your key line staff since they are the people that interact with your guests on a day-to-day basis. Allow input from these persons and collectively select the best ideas. Naturally, it is also important that this vision supports the goals of the hotel owners. Why is including your employees so important? You are communicating to the staff their opinion matters. Involving them gives them a sense of purpose and community. Your goals become their goals.
After this plan has been finalized, communicate it to all staff. Encourage them to create their own internal departmental goals in order to do their part in achieving the collective mission defined in your plan. Additionally, heavily encourage cross-departmental collaboration. For example, how can housekeeping and marketing work together to ensure the rooms are set up to appeal to the Brazilian parent? Marketing can do research on Brazilian habits and communicate those findings to housekeeping that then can create an attractive atmosphere in the room. Base bonuses and incentives on the achievement of the mission statement-not departmental goals. This will reduce the “us versus them” mentality.
Allow staff to experience how other departments work. Now, don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not suggesting that the maintenance person take over as CFO for a day. However, if a Salesperson experienced a day in the life of the Food and Beverage department she might have a better understanding on how they work and can set better expectations with a potential new group client. Hopefully, it also teaches a little empathy for the F&B staff.
Reward staff based on the success of the hotel. The wisdom in this is everybody has the same end result in mind. They’ll also require a united front in order to reach their collective goal. The departments will need to work together to ensure success is attained for all. Additionally, give every person in every department the opportunity to reap the benefit. The accountants work as hard as the sales people-just in a different capacity. If you exclude them, resentment will ensue.
Consider assigning staff to entire processes. For example, make one individual responsible for group reservations. Once a party is on the calendar, hand that event off to the member who will be responsible for the entire experience. This person will then coordinate with F&B, housekeeping and operations to ensure the customer’s needs are met and the event exceeds their expectations.
Hearken back to my previous Hotel Executive article Incentivizing Staff to Reduce Expenses and Improve Revenue where I discuss employee motivation. Dan Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us teaches it has been scientifically proven that people are more motivated by intrinsic rewards rather than extrinsic. Humans need to feel that they are a part of something that is important and matters. I reiterate the three concepts he highlights:
- Autonomy: the ability to be in control of our lives-even when working for someone else.
- Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters. The Mastery element is achieved by ensuring tasks are given to staff in such a way that they can reach a little beyond their current skill level but not so far that they get discouraged.
- Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. The Purpose element is incredibly critical. Showing your staff the importance of their position and helping them to envision the significance of their role in your company will get you farther than you ever thought possible-in terms of their engagement.
It is not easy to project and plan especially when considering the number of stakeholders involved. However, it is worth the time and effort. Remember what I said at the beginning “Failing to plan is planning to fail!” Make the time to define your goals. Then train department heads and staff to focus on the overall mission and give them proper motivation to reach it. The results of these actions will separate you from the pack in no time!