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How’s the View Up There?

Ivory Towers

Ivory Towers (Photo credit: James F Clay)

This post is devoted to Managers and the struggles that they deal with day in and day out. While I have not been a General Manager in a Hospitality Concept I do hear frustrations from some of those GM’s I have served under. The issue of saving money by decreasing labor hours is all abuzz these days and has been for many years. Seems, just like with our Government, different corporations experiment in different ways with doing this. It seems that regardless of what is done there always seems to be pain points created at the restaurant or retail store level. There are processes that need to take place at the local level to help you deal with each given situation. I want to qualify all of this by saying I am not sure what pain points you will experience because my crystal ball is broken, but I will touch on some areas that will assist you in working through the process. While those in “The Ivory Tower” that may be making the corporate decisions may not be as in touch as Managers at the local level would like them to be they are still making the decisions. Fighting the decisions rarely helps anything; you must be their “Eyes on the Ground” so to speak to help them make appropriate future decisions. If you establish yourself as such you will find more in the long run will work in your favor. Being a voice of reason tends to work better than being a heel biting Chihuahua.

As much as I have felt the crunch of people making decisions for a corporation above me I also understand the reason for it. I am going to try really hard not to side with anyone on this and instead provide helpful insight that will help decrease the pain as it arises.

Training

This is the most critical point I will make, because it seems like this is where I see the most frustration created in the process. I will speak primarily to restaurants in this portion because I have been a training manager involved with creating policy at the corporate level or I have trained staff and walked through the process. You only get a certain amount of training dollars so use them wisely. The two companies that I have worked for that have done the best with this would have to be Olive Garden and McDonald’s.  To be honest, I think most other companies do their best to steal fish from those fishbowls and use previously trained staff from corporations with good training reputations. I think most do it unintentionally; they rather just take the path to least resistance. If you can hire someone that already knows how to cook you can simply just teach them a new menu. A Server that has waited tables previously just needs to be moved to a new station. With this tactic comes certain opportunities. There is probably a reason, and not often blatantly obvious to anyone, why that person is no longer with a previous employer.

English: This is a picture of two Oscar Fish i...

English: This is a picture of two Oscar Fish in a Fish Tank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Managers, please check references. This can be done one of two ways. First, call the places they have listed.as a previous employer. The will at least give you an idea whether that person would have been eligible for rehire. Secondly, you may have people that work for you that you trust who may have worked with some of these people in the past. Those people are a good source of referral for you. Use them. I recently worked with a young Manager at a concept I won’t mention that asked me if I had worked with a couple of people that had turned in applications. I did not recommend either of them. I am not in the habit of shooting down new applications unless I know there is a history. Anyway, one of them wasn’t a productive employee where I was working at another job, and the other had been fired from two of the locations they listed. That wasn’t indicated on the applications. Well, we spent training dollars to bring the first in and after two days they washed out. The second made it through training, and I really hope they have better luck than the previous two positions. Often you pull fish from other aquariums and you get diseases that spread throughput your new tank. In Branson, there are a lot of places to work, and many just hop from one to the next without modifying their behavior. It’s simply a process of people taking advantage of the fact that references aren’t often checked. For each person you put through training you will have to pay them for training, so it reflects well on you to hire effectively.

Document Everything

Ever tried calling your Corporate Supervisor and tried to explain a problem and had them come back and ask for numbers? Chances are you realized this information before you read this point. However, for those learning vicariously through those people  – You lucked out.  It’s so much more helpful if you can come to your supervisor with vital statistics to support your observation. If you have a boss who just changes something because you said it needs to change you would probably want to hang onto that job because chances are his job will be up for grabs soon.

Monitor Waste

One of the most effective  training sessions happened for me in Basic Management training when I was with McDonald’s. One day all of us budding new Managers were brought outside to the back parking lot of the McDonald’s to the dumpster. It was asked of us to collect trash from there and from all of the cans that were around the dining room. It was all laid out and all of the condiments that were unopened and thrown away were counted. Talk about a major realization that day. There is a specific reason why you are handed only the amount of condiments you ask for. You can be a hero in your company if you can find a way to control waste. You would be amazed at how often that is taken for granted.

In a hotel, it isn’t that hard to use the backs of old handouts for scratch paper. Obviously if it should be shredded then that isn’t the same. Going paperless altogether is the best way to save there. It takes some doing but it makes life so much easier in the long run.

When It All Goes Down

English: Ellensburg, WA, February 14, 2009 -- ...

English: Ellensburg, WA, February 14, 2009 — A FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is set up in Ellensburg at the annual rodeo venue. Disaster Recovery Centers are an important part of disaster recovery. Photo by Ed Edahl/FEMA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All the bragging I do about McDonald’s  I can’t say my experience with losing a main server in a storm is worthy of bragging about. The fact that we made it out alive to talk about it was pretty amazing. We had a major storm in Branson and it created a power surge or two, and took out our power completely for a few minutes. When the power came back on a minute or so later the main server didn’t. Everything was connected to that server. For the rest of that day we took orders and received money without the aid of a Point of Sales system. It cost over 2000 dollars for the new server, and all of that would have probably been unnecessary if money had been spent on an automatic back up system. Those often cost a little less than a few hundred dollars.

Preparing for disaster is essential for your business. and is critical in the digital age. Even if you are a Mom and Pop company your data is important. If you don’t know where to get started with that, I would like to recommend that you call a Data Protection Specialist like DaZZee Integrations. They can help you get started with that. I also have a background there and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Budgets being altered can be worked around as frustrating as it seems. Often it just means you do  a little preparation to make sure you are using your money and manpower hours wisely. I understand that is get’s frustrating, and I also understand that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but that should be more incentive to place a stitch in a possible tear before it rips and becomes a gaping hole.

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If You Build It They Will Come

We all dream of something better. When we take on a position as a Manager we have hopes to build something no one can resist. We have dreams and desires. I find myself drifting to this movie clip when I think about that.

I post this blog in many groups I am a part of on LinkedIn and I have gotten some great feedback. Something that was said in reference to my last post  made me think that he may be a bit frustrated. I am going to post the message and tell me that you haven’t felt something similar as a manager.

Dirk; the experience of a guest begins when they pull into your driveway and continues long after they leave. From the flowers by your front door to the cigarette butt on the sidewalk. From the valet who runs to their door to the bell hop texting his girlfriend instead of offering his services, they notice everything. The experience is everything the guest see’s and how you make them feel added together, upselling, having excellent Menu’s (not as easy as you may think) in your restaurant, awesome housekeeping and a functional front desk area must work seamlessly together. As a manager how many times have you heard from BUT guests, everything was great BUT, the room was perfect BUT, the hotel was excellent BUT. Unluckily the human condition makes it easier to remember the BUT’S than it does the excellents. Putting your best foot forward or Knowing who the best employees are has always been easy for any manager. Taking the average employee and through training creating the NEW best employee that is what good management is all about. To Take an average hotel or resort and through training, leadership, personal contact and example turn it into an exemplary establishment is what great managers accomplish. Maya Angelou said ” People may forget what you said, People may forget what you did, BUT they will never forget how you made them FEEL”

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

If you haven’t felt some of these same emotions then you haven’t been in management long enough/ Like in the movie clip we brush up against positive and negative influences everyday. We have to decide how we will deal with it.They key to remember is that your staff will be a reflection of you because you are their leader. You will be the benchmark your staff compares everything to. Chances are, you will also be the measuring stick your Supervisors will judge things by as well. Regardless of how fair you may think the circumstances are you will be accountable for what you make of the situation. For some people that paralyzes them when they know they are being watched, but for others it’s something different.

It’s important to seek  “Buy In” from your staff, bu it’s important that you know what it is you want them to jump into. Do you know fully what your supervisors expect from you in your role, and do you have clear goals reflecting that? If so, are you familiar with your company’s philosophy? Does your philosophy reflect that of the company with the team you manage? These are questions you should be asking yourself often so that you don’t lose touch with what it is you strive to achieve with your staff. When you do or say something does it reflect your company in a positive light? Back to the benchmark thing – your staff will take cues on how you support your company’s ideals by what you say and do. I don’t think I will really touch here in your off-work life, because I am sure that it will appear in a future post. Remember, everything you do will be put under a microscope at one time or another.To acquire “Buy In” from your staff you will need to show them an example worth buying into. Ask yourself in every situation if you have truly done everything you can over a given situation. Then your example will dictate the direction of your crew.

I was a Manager with McDonald’s for three years, and most of that tenure was primarily nights. I called my night crew “The Island of Misfit Toys> They were primarily young and I handpicked the majority of them. We were all a little crazy and definitely unorthodox. However, we held to one thing all the time. We held ourselves to the standard of providing food the way we were supposed to do it when we were there. I always said to them that it was easier to learn to do the right thing and get good at that as opposed to cutting corners. Did we goof off some – oh yeah, but we came together like a well oiled machine when it was time to do what we did. The kids I had didn’t all seem like everyone’s first choice in the regular world, but it was amazing to see them grow up as young men and women.The one thing I learned from my first supervisor with McDonald’s, Ralph Lawrence, is that they need to see you pick up a mop before they will respect your asking them to do so. Ralph showed me a great example of Servant Leadership. I try to make that philosophy mine where ever I am. He also said, “It’s not about you; it’s about the business.” I have to remember that a lot; When you put yourself before the company and if someone isn’t trained to fill in for you in your absence then you aren’t doing what you need to do to protect the business. It’s always important to duplicate yourself in someone else; not because they can’t live without you but because you need to leave the place better than you found it when you got there.

If you work hard to reflect the company’s standard and show your team the best example of a sold out leader for that team as you can be your team will notice. It’s so much easier to hold your crew accountable when you are a person of integrity. Then you don’t have to try and backtrack or even worse deal with a do as I say and not as I do moment.  That’s a death knell to your ability to keep your crew’s respect. Unfortunately, I have learned that the hard way.

Most importantly your staff isn’t going to care how much you know until they know how much you care. This will be reflected with your crew and the guests you take care of. If you keep that key element in mind you will do more good than harm wherever you are.

As Always, please feel free to shoot me feedback and I will be happy to help or listen however I can.  I really appreciate the opportunity to interact with people of many industries.

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The Intangibles

Charles Barkley representing the 1992 Dream Team

Charles Barkley representing the 1992 Dream Team (Photo credit: dgaproductions)

All throughout my life I have been a sports fan. I love to watch some of the greats and how they play. Basketball, Football, Baseball ad other sports it was always amazing to see the huge upsets or the amazing plays. Men  receive Hall of Fame status because of the ability to do great things constantly.Names like Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg, Dan Marino, Charles Barkley, Greg Maddux, and Mike Singletary. Some very vivid memories come from plays made by these great athletes. There were other names that I heard of men who never really made the same splash in every category on the statistics sheet, but nonetheless they had a series of intangibles that they brought to the court everyday as well. Does anyone remember when John Paxson drained the three pointer in 1993 during the Championship game to beat the Suns? I am a Suns fan, and I remember the blood draining from my face. Dan Majerle was famous for his last second heroics and his defense. Mark Clayton made Dan Marino look amazing. I remember following Cedric Ceballos when he was with the Suns, and remember his coaches always saying that they never ran a play specifically for him. Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, A.C. Green and Steve Tasker are some guys that had amazing facets to their game that made them amazing in there own areas of excellence to make big plays at any given time.  I speak of these guys because these are the types of individuals I want to focus on in this post.

Greg Maddux in 2006

Greg Maddux in 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In management it’s hard not to focus on those “Rock Star” employees, because they run up the most sales on a given night, or they seem to handle the front desk best when there is a rush from a bus. These are revenue driven tasks and they are vitally important to the team. They are people we feel like we can build a team around because often they are charismatic and full of energy. Those people deserve attention; however, here are other people that you should make sure you witness as well. Some of these people work hard in the support roles, or they bring special talents to the table that may be outside of their job code. These are many different kinds of gemstones with beautiful facets, but their colors emerge when they are polished. A person with great organizational skills can be consulted on their ideas about group dining practices. The person who is always bringing fun to the group would be great to assist with planning company parties. Maybe you have a blogger in your group that could help publicize your company. Finding ways to utilize those hidden talents is the best way to make them feel appreciated and lighten your management load.

English: Chicago Bulls Scottie Pippen 1995

English: Chicago Bulls Scottie Pippen 1995 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those people make great role players for your team and can get often overlooked. The key to great management that takes you to the Hall of Fame as a coach, so to speak, is your ability to develop your diamond in the rough and find beautiful places for them to sparkle. The key to building great teams is making the bench players feel like integral parts of the game at every level.

In addition to the great team that you have created you need to find ways to improve upon that. In the off season or when a hiring push is about to arise it’s a good idea to create a depth chart to assess which areas of the organization are strong and where you have opportunities for improvement. Then you can analyze your players and see what traits seem to make them strong and look for similar traits ion new candidates for positions with your company.

If you take the time and analyze your staff and find ways to reward those with the hidden aspects that make them special it will benefit you on many levels.

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