5 Time-tested strategies to be indispensable at Work!
The organizations we work in are populated with a mix of employees, with their own personal traits, focuses (or foci, if you prefer), energies and acumen.
The A-listers, the optimal Achievers, the Stellar performers are always considered imperative and vital for the success of the Company by the bosses and the management.
We all, regardless of our areas of specialization and line of work, would like to be treated with such privilege and prestige. And it is in our hands to be the employee that no Company wishes to lose.
Here follow Five time-tested strategies to always stay indispensable, no matter which company or country you work in -
Know the Fundamentals and the Basics
You must rear this boundless zeal in you to learn all that there is to learn about your product and Company.
How many times, I cannot recall, have I seen a Concierge, Housekeeper, Server embarrassingly fumble and fail to blurt out the correct response! There have been so many occasions when a Sales Manager has given out wrong facts and figures at an important site inspection. There have been a large number of PR people callously putting down incorrect information in their press releases. I have seen Sales Directors and General Managers look towards the nearest saving assistant as they fudge data or spin a yarn to quickly fill in the gaps in the gaping holes of their sell story.
It's not just us hoteliers. A similar pattern follows with people from different industries – from toothbrush to travel and food to forensics.
But there is no excuse; no escaping the embarrassment we bring upon ourselves when we turn up in our green-horned, half baked avatars.
It is our duty, well almost a moral binding, to know our product and our company like the back of our hands – every factoid, every star performer who is such an astral brand up-sell, every interesting gem of a story that went into making what we are and yes, most importantly all the warts that we must be on a war path to remove permanently.
Know your guests
Knowing your guests is akin to knowing your job. Whatever you do in your different departments – creating recipes or collateral, devising sales strategies, reinforcing security plans, developing innovative standards of service, introducing new concepts and products, changing draperies or dresses – you do it for your guests. In fact they are the only reason for your existence and for ensuring that your business sails or tanks.
Hotels that make sure that all their staff cross map the guests and get to know them well, not only come out on top at most reader surveys and awards but also have a healthy bottom-line, regardless of the seasonal factors.
Most of the illustrious General Managers I have worked with urged me to work the lobby in order to greet and meet guests and put aside decent amount of time to spend with the guests. That is one of the sanest times invested in one's job as you learn so much about what the guests really want and take their feedback and suggestions to the relevant forums. You get to share right information about your hotel with the right audience in the most focused and targeted manner at the right time. This also allows for a two-way feel-good exchange that promises to have a long-standing reach and penetration far more than any advertising or marketing thrust would aspire to have.
Know your Colleagues
Hotels are one of the most people-centric industries. Most organizations have the luxury of a weekend but hotels work round the clock, with end of the week days getting busier. What's more, a hotel never goes to sleep. This nature of business ensures that you are in contact with your colleagues all the time and that there are too many of those colleagues around. It then becomes essential to know your colleagues well, more in this work milieu.
Knowing your team mates across departments and cadres is an extremely profitable proposition. Of course you need to know different people to different levels of familiarity – from pleasant exchanges in the corridor (please do get away from the cursory nods and build upon this little window of opportunity) with some and getting together with a sense of bonhomie in the staff cafeteria with few others to building lasting bonds (some of which can grow to include the families) with those that you frequently work closely with. Decide on the level you want to get to, judiciously, professionally and with reason.
Harbouring a sincere and friendly disposition, being approachable, being a congenial personality and a caring person and having a helpful, down to earth nature considerably increases your likeability quotient. This helps widen your circle from top to bottom and creates a good vibe around you.
Knowing your colleagues eases the atmosphere, makes the work environment conducive, dissolves crisis situations, makes things less strenuous and actually injects the element of cheerfulness and fun into toughest of work conditions. Some prominent hotel chains around the world have penciled out an exemplary blueprint for their "know your employee" policy so much that your performance on this attribute can wing its way into your appraisal!
Know the other Product / Company better
This is a two-edged sword in our armoury. By knowing our competition better, we know clearly what we are doing right. More significantly, competition knowledge helps us realize and rectify what we may be doing wrong. And that is a big step forward.
FAMs of new properties and restaurants in town or other cities are such a great learning exercise. First hand exposure is, indeed, an indelible imprint on one's mind that promises to stay with you for a long time.
When I was going off on my overseas Scholarship, my boss at the time suggested I get in touch with sister hotels, part of the Leading Hotels of the World association that we were a member of, for possible stays so that I could have an up, close and personal look at some of the world's best run establishments. An invaluable tip that has left behind some priceless lessons on the best practices adopted by significant others in business!
No amount of marketing literature, PR collateral, website interface and 360 degree views can take place of what you experience in flesh and blood.
Finally, make yourself indispensable as far as possible
None of us are really that prime and pivotal in any of the personal or professional roles we play, that we or our roles cannot be done away with. That is a sordid fact of life. Yet, we must endeavour to be as difficult to replace as possible if we wish to make a success of our chosen paths.
And that involves shaking up our old, jaded practices; taking ourselves away from the comfort of inertia into the realm of the yet undiscovered. It incorporates restructuring our strategies and allowing ourselves to grow upwards learning new things along the way and challenging ourselves each and every day.
In my last role, I wrote manuals and advertising copy – something that an agency would have traditionally done, wrote out business pitches for hotel chain tie-ups, learned enough about art to conduct an intelligent art tour for an audience ranging from royalty (the Princess of Thailand) to Young Business Leaders and an American Think tank, amongst a host of other luminaries.
I have seen a Sales Colleague get passionate about making Financial Review presentations and writing Due Diligence proposals. It came as no surprise, then, when he joined a major global company in a senior role of international development and strategic planning.
I have witnessed the blossoming of a shy General Manager who fought and overcame his innate inhibition to transform himself into a fine public speaker.
I have watched the growth trajectory of an F&B colleague who initially performed below par in his own department perhaps because he kept up a lackadaisical attitude; but take on the mantle of officiating General Management with such gusto, zeal and enthusiasm that he won plaudits not just from his fellow colleagues but also the GM, the owners and the guests at large. Today he manages an award-winning resort for one of the top ten hotel companies.
I have noticed with admiration the Executive Housekeeper come out of the shell of her traditional role and expectation and branch out in the area of Revenue Management and the larger Rooms Division responsibility. She pushed herself out of her self-limiting boundaries of satisfaction and contentment and untiringly worked at making herself more valuable and significant.
Go ahead and strategize yourself and your unique offerings such that you become hard to be replaced with.
Your professional destiny is really in the cup of your palms, the lines notwithstanding; and in the set of choices you make!
L. Aruna Dhir