You’re settled in as the new General Manager at your hotel. You feel that you are on solid ground with your department heads and the staff is getting to know and respect you. You have met each of your executives for an in depth discussion and you are getting to know their strengths and weaknesses. You are familiar with the financials, have ‘soaked up’ the prevailing atmosphere in the hotel and know the physical layout of the building well.

You are ‘up to speed’ as they say.

So what are next steps?

You have taken the time necessary to learn and settle in and show the staff, including your department heads, that you have ‘learned’ the hotel and have not been the ‘Bull in the china shop’ that many perhaps expected.

You have succeeded in building your ‘initial phase’ reputation.

It is time to start putting your own GM ‘stamp’ into the operation, time to get active and taking over the navigation of your establishment.

Here are some tips that may be helpful in going forward at this critical point in your stewardship:

  1. Have a second meeting and discussion with each head of department. This should be held in the more official surroundings of your office. Point out what you have seen, good and bad, in his/her department. Ask them to put down on paper what they believe is the current state of their department and what their plan is for the next year to improve, with ‘hard’ targets. Ask them to include what they might need in resources and what you can do to help them achieve the targets.

  2. Request an all encompassing plan for the treatment of the staff from your HR head. This plan must include all that is done for staff on a daily/monthly and yearly basis. If a staff satisfaction survey has been achieved then request a plan for improving the weaknesses. If a survey has not been done, ask to plan one. Either way you will have a benchmark on which to compare in the future.

The HR plan must also include ways of lowering grievances that are costly, and also exit interviews to learn from mistakes.

  1. Spend more time with your sales and marketing team. Ask for their strategy in attaining higher ADR’s and occupancy from the more valuable segments and sub segments. Look at future bookings for ‘holes’ and request action to fill them. Hold a weekly meeting for updating and minute the meetings.

  2. Request a monthly forecast by the 25th of the month for the next month. The accounting department will create this with the full input of the department heads. This is no substitute for the yearly budget, but as the year gets older the budget is less effective and needs updating for effectiveness. This will allow all departments to rethink scheduling if necessary and be more compatible with current business demands.

  3. Make sure to try and keep significant presence in the building and not hunker down in your office. Staff likes to see an active GM who is present, asks them how they are doing and is seen as taking a keen interest in their work.

  4. Look into guest satisfaction parameters. Gather the information necessary on which to gauge the weaknesses that lead to complaints and plan action to correct them. I always knew the strengths of my hotels, but what I always wanted more than that was to know what was wrong. Instill in the staff a sense of competition to always better guest ratings whether on social media or within the brand.

  5. When drawing up the points for heads of department meetings, ask your executive team for their items for the agenda. Don’t forget that the best way to have your team adopt any plans of action is to have them involved in the decisions.

  6. Let your team know that you are their ‘support system’ and that you are there to advise them when they feel they need it. They must also know that, while they do have freedom to lead their department under your guidance, they will be judged by the yearly plan and targets you set together.

  7. Staff needs to feel appreciated, and that goes for your executive team as well. Don’t save on the ‘thank yous’ you dish out daily, and acknowledge good deeds and decisions made during the days’ hard work by all. You will feel good too.

I firmly believe that while you as General Manager make the final decisions, it is best to have a democratic system whereby all involved ‘stakeholders’ have their say and ideas. You may very well be surprised that there are many interesting ideas and suggestions worthy of adoption in your team.

I have always gone to the source to get my most valuable advice and it has paid off handsomely!