Industry Update
Opinion Article 7 January 2005

Balancing New Year's Resolutions

Now that the New Year has arrived, have you thought about your professional resolutions? Now is the time to finalize your goals and create a strategic balance between your personal and your professional improvement plans

By Gene Ference, President at Ference Leadership & Strategy

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The New Year is a time for fresh beginnings for many people. It is a time when most everyone is looking to make the coming year better than the last. It’s a time of personal commitment, to improve one or more aspects of one’s life to either be able to feel better about oneself physically or mentally. Usually, any New Year's resolutions are made so that personal values are the target for improvement.

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But, what’s wrong with making a New Year's resolution or two that’s based on your work? After all, don’t you spend at least one third of your day, if not a great deal more, at your job? If one third of your day could be better than it used to be, wouldn’t that affect your total life in a positive manner? The simple answer is “yes.”

Let’s look at a brief list of possible resolutions you can commit to for this new year—as concerns your career in the Hospitality Industry. Pick one—or more resolutions and make them work for you—and your place of employment. And don’t be afraid to add one or two more resolutions that may apply specifically to you.

  • Resolution #1: Be the best you can be through training. Depending on whether you are part of management or part of the line staff, proper training is essential to either institute or receive. Managers should make sure that all employees reporting to them be properly trained. We’re not talking about only newly hired personnel either—the “old timers” can use a little training too. Catch them up on new equipment, new methods and new paperwork. Be sure everyone is on the same page. Consistency in service is paramount in keeping clientele in this competitive market.

    For line staff, speak with management about getting more and proper training in your job—and try cross-training to learn someone else’s job. The more knowledgeable and expert you are on your work, the more enjoyable and satisfying it will ultimately be to spend one third of your day at work. And face it, improvement through training can lead to a promotion and increased satisfaction, increased base pay, bigger tips for the staff, and more.

  • Resolution #2: In many regards, communication is the key to success. Make a commitment to increase your level of communication—within your department, between departments, as well as up and down the chain of command. Make sure everyone involved in a particular event or job knows all the particulars and knows just what is expected. Increased communication will inevitably lead to better service to customers as well as better rapport among associates.

    Don’t forget to communicate with customers too! After all, they are “paying the bill,” and their ultimate satisfaction is what the “service industry” is all about. Even if it means only greeting a customer with a friendly “hello,” or helping them with directions in the hotel or in the vicinity, endeavor to make their questions or problems as easy to overcome as possible.

  • Resolution #3: Especially for management, make sure that you recognize a job well done by your staff. Recognizing achievement will make a huge difference in the morale of personnel in the coming year. Too often a good job or consistent good work goes unrewarded. It doesn’t take much to personally recognize an employee for their hard work, or to put their name “on the board” as being a high achiever.

    Just as importantly, be sure your recognition of personnel is fair and equal. Don’t recognize one person alone if it was a team effort, and don’t recognize one associate one day and not someone else when the same job or performance was carried out on another. This resolution doesn’t take a huge effort on your part. It only takes a little bit of thought to make recognition a useful tool in management’s arsenal.

  • Resolution #4: Vow to help conserve resources. Whether we are talking about water, electricity, human energy, or products used every day in your work, strive to use them responsibly. While it may not seem like much, saving a little water from a dripping faucet by reporting it to maintenance, or turning the lights off in your office for the night, conserving resources can pay off in numerous ways.

    First, the physical saving of energy or time, etc. when spread over all the employees at your place of business can be enormous if everyone pitches in and contributes. Even if everyone picks up a piece of paper under their feet on the sidewalk or in the hallway, litter can be kept in control without hiring someone to perform that duty specifically.

    All conservation efforts relate positively to the bottom line. When business reduces cost and increases profit, employees on all levels benefit in some way. At the very least, it’s good for the environment and good for your self satisfaction.

  • Resolution #5: Increase your level of customer service. While you may think you already do a great job (and you might) there is always room for improvement. Make sure waiters and waitresses are attentive to each and every table, even the last one of the night. Make sure they don’t all of a sudden “disappear” when a customer wants to pay their bill. Even if they received great service, a bad last impression may ruin a great tip and a return visit.

    During busy times, be sure bellmen are hustling and doing all they can to get patron’s luggage to their rooms as fast as possible. Make sure your concierge knows absolutely just how good the new Italian or Mexican restaurant down the road really is. Even if you are a manager behind the scenes in the office, be sure your work is carried out efficiently and that all accounts and/or paperwork are up-to-date. You can all pick out at least one thing that you can do better every day—and then just do it!

  • Resolution #6: Look for improvement opportunities. Work towards improving your hotel, restaurant, casino or place of employment each and every day. It might mean offering a suggestion that will save thousands of dollars, or it might mean cleaning water spots off of a wine glass. It doesn’t really matter what the improvement is, and it won’t be something huge each day, but if everyone does one positive thing each day at work—to improve work, to improve the bottom line, to improve guest satisfaction—you will also improve your own satisfaction and help make one third of your life more enjoyable.

Not one of the six resolutions outlined have anything to do with weight loss, quitting a bad habit or doing something difficult. It’s not about anything negative. Each resolution mentioned is a positive step in the right direction. Make a resolution and keep it—at least at work. And whether you use one of the afore mentioned six resolutions or come up with your own, HVS/The Ference Group wishes you a safe and prosperous New Year. We look forward to teaming up and working with you to help identify opportunities in 2005 that will offer benefits to all. Hmm, now there’s another thought for a resolution—teamwork…


HVS/The Ference Group specializes in organizational surveys, performance cultures, and brand development. We work closely with companies regarding their customer and employee satisfaction, quality service standards, operational efficiencies, and brand loyalty initiatives. We have assisted companies with successful applications for the Malcolm Baldrige Award, as well as the national quality awards of Great Britain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, and Singapore. Our signature program, Achieving Business Health, provides property-wide perfomance audits along with on-site team-building.

Receiving a Doctoral Degree in Organizational Development from Cornell University in 1977, Gene Ference earned post-graduate certification in Change Management Leadership from the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences. For over 25 years, he has conducted management retreats in Strategic Focus, Leadership Development, Team Dynamics and served as an Executive Coach to many of this industry's business professionals.

For more information on how our programs and services can have a positive impact on your enterprise, please contact HVS/The Ference Group at +1.203.226.6000 or [email protected]

HVS International is a hospitality services firm providing industry skill and knowledge worldwide. The organization and its specialists possess a wide range of expertise and offer market feasibility studies, valuations, strategic analyses, development planning, and litigation support. Additionally, HVS International supplies unique knowledge in the areas of executive search, investment banking, environmental sustainability, timeshare consulting, food and beverage operations, interior design, gaming, technology strategies, organizational assessments, operational management, strategy development, convention facilities consulting, marketing communications, property tax appeals and investment consulting. Since 1980, HVS International has provided hospitality services to more than 10,000 hotels throughout the world. Principals and associates of the firm have authored textbooks and thousands of articles regarding all aspects of the hospitality industry. Click here for more...

Gene Ference

Gene Ference, Ph.D. has developed Deliberate Cultures in the luxury hospitality industry since 1980. He is President of Ference Leadership and Strategy & Center for Survey Research – a global organizational development company – and is an active member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC).

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