Do we really need this many people in the office while we don't have enough manpower to serve our guests?

Right now, hotels are operating leaner than ever. If you're a hotel operator, you've probably been learning that you can operate even more lean than you would have previously imagined - mainly due to the fact that now during the pandemic there are not that many guests.

When hotels start pushing to operate 'more lean', what usually happens is that we tend to squeeze the hell out of our frontline staff - this is especially so when times are tough - or when guests start complaining about poor service. The approach with guests might be to make an appeal for empathy - "Sorry, we are low on staff today". Guests get it and a lot of them may indeed be empathetic, but honestly, why is that their problem?

The pandemic has taught us that being agile is very important and it seems like a lot of hotels are starting to embrace that.

What is Agile Management?

Agile management is a management approach that is used with startups and tech companies that is all about doing meaningful things in small bits, quickly and efficiently. Hierarchies get flattened and all work for continuous and consistent development.

The Agile GM

If you're looking to take the agile route, then ensuring that your leadership is 'agile' is a must. An example of how agile leadership might work, would be rather than team members having to wait for someone from higher up the ladder to make a call one way or the other, agile leadership would ensure that the GM had the empowerment to be able to make that call himself and fix things on the fly. Agile leadership means that sometimes, other people need the confidence and empowerment to be able to make decisions alone.

How do you make a decision? Take a look on LinkedIn 'Agile Project Leadership'

One of the frustrations I have experienced in hotels is encountering leaders who want to please everyone and ultimately end up failing on all fronts. He / she doesn't want to take risks as they could come back to bite - so rather they will take the 'yes boss' path to please the boss, the owners, and also just go with the votes from their team members so that they will all remain happy and if needed, accountability can be directed back to them should anything go wrong as a result of that decision.

Ultimately, these kinds of GM's usually end up upsetting everyone and may only have a very small circle of 'supporters' that keep them afloat.

An agile GM will rather encourage the team to give feedback and be open for suggestions, then based on that data, they will make a hard call one way or the other and implement changes quickly.

Agile Hotels

Do we really need this many people in the office while we don't have enough manpower to serve our guests?

Covid-19 has probably taught you by now that you don't need a supervisor, assistant supervisor, assistant manager, manager, assistant director and a director in one outlet. It has probably taught you that your marketing managers should be able to write, and take photos, and post them on social media without having to have a social media manager and the assistant.

If that realization hasn't happened, then perhaps you need to start looking at becoming an agile leader and embrace this approach - it makes a world of difference.

Making Decisions like an Agile Leader

How do you go about which things to prioritize? Which outlets should close and which should stay open? Which positions could your business really live without?

You can use the 'MoSCoW' Prioritization technique to help you - that is, working out the Must-haves, Should-haves, Could-haves, and Won't-haves for your hotel.

The Must-Haves are non-negotiable items, components, and people. If you were to build a lean and agile hotel, a good GM with agile leadership traits should be one of your 'Must Haves'.

Next, the Should-Haves. They are not essential but will add substantial value and will fulfil customers' wishes and expectations, rather than just meeting their basic needs. It could be a training manager who could train your staff so that they offer the best in class service. If it were a car, while the Must-Have would be the engine, the Should-Have would be the AC system.

The Could-Haves are the items that won't make or break your success. In the case of a hotel, it might be an Assistant Supervisor.

The last one is the Won't-Haves. For example, it might seem like a good idea to have a circus since you want to become the world's first 'Circus Hotel', but along the way, you realized that you can't feed 12 lions and 7 elephants and justify them in your P&L. So, in the end, the Circus should be a no-go.

Some GMs are blessed with owners who allow them to 'Have it all' but remember, being an agile leader also means that you take full responsibility for whatever is thrown your way. Can you handle it? Can your team handle it? Can you take the falls on the chin and just bounce back better than ever? Can you take criticism on board and then make real changes, putting your ego aside? If you have a GM who has these traits, you have struck gold.

Contact if you wish to learn more about leadership training programs for your hotels.