Eric Weber is the General Manager of the 505 spectacular rooms and suites at the Centara Grand & Convention Center at Central World in Bangkok. He leads a very diverse team of employees and during our time with Eric, he reveals his secret for connecting with his employees’ hearts – a skill that enables him to adapt to the local culture and lets the employees do what they are hired to do.
Eric shares with us his management style with his team:
“I like to give responsibility to people to do what they are hired to do. I’m not a person to dictate orders. I will provide tools for my staff to do their job and if they need me I will be here to assist them. I’m not their nanny and I’m not their dad. I’m not going to hold their hands and ask them every five minutes if they have done the job. From a development perspective, it is important for me to know that there are people who have a skill set to grow. If we just develop people who are order takers, then we are not helping them develop management skills.
Management skills are 50% technical and 50% human. All the technical aspects of the job you can learn. The ‘human’ 50% is being with people and dealing with people. To master this, you need to experience it yourself. That’s why I like to create a framework for the team to explore this themselves. Will they make mistakes? Yes, but the value from learning from mistakes is still far better than sitting them in a class learning things that all too often don’t apply in real life.”
Another secret that Eric shared with us is to “Listen and don’t always think you know everything better than other people”.
Not Only does Eric have to listen to his staff, but he also listens to his guests, his owner, and his corporate people.
“The role of a general manager in a hotel as I see it, is to manage relationships. It is the relationships between these four groups of people that is the reason we are here. Different companies have different priorities, but what we should remember is that hospitality is a business. In the end, we are here to make money. There are different ways of doing that, but as far as Centara is concerned, our priority has always been guests and guests’ experience. The number two priority is staff development and staff engagement. We need to give them an opportunity to grow. Everything else comes after that.”
When asked specifically about finding and keeping talent, Eric said “It’s an overall challenge in the industry to attract and keep the right talent. The perception of working in hospitality has changed. The workplace is perceived to be a strict environment with too much bureaucracy, long hours, and demanding responsibilities. At Centara we work with vocational schools and less privileged students, and we are very widespread, so I don’t think that is a problem for us”.
He continues “We are a healthy company in terms of growth and we are a stable company. We don’t have high turnover. There will however always be someone paying more and staff might move. It’s an overall problem that doesn’t just exist in Thailand’
Given that the issue of getting the ‘right people’ didn’t seem to be a major challenge for Centara, we asked Eric what his major challenge in running this hotel as the new general manager?
“The only good hotel is a full hotel. The challenge is to find the right business at a right time, from the right channels with the right price.”