Industry Update
Opinion Article 6 March 2019

Why You Are A Difficult Hospitality Employee

By Don Kermath, Turnover Reduction Expert

share this article
1 minComments

It's true, you are someone's difficult person. As hospitality workers we find some guests to be exceptionally difficult. However, guests are the reason we exist. Guests deserve the best possible service, but so do your fellow employees. They are your customers as well - your internal customers. if your guests deserve the very best service and they are your customer, don't your colleagues deserve your very best service too?


A new study by ALICE (a hotel operations platform), shows 62% of guests say that rude staff made their stay frustrating. Any employee who is rude to guests is also likely to be rude to employees. Your top performers don't want to work with rude employees. As a consequence your top performers are likely to be dissatisfied and eventually leave. Being easy to work with is not just a matter of improving guest satisfaction, it's also about improving employee engagement.

An older 2017 Gallup survey concluded over 50% of employees quit to get away from their boss. Combine rude employees with difficult bosses and you have a serious problem - losing employees due to difficult coworkers. It's possible that dealing with difficult people is the single largest hospitality industry human resource problem. Solve this problem and you positively impact the problems of employee turnover and bad online reviews.

Here's the rub. You can't change someone else's character - you know, the thing that determines whether they are difficult or not. You have two practical choices when it comes to dealing with difficult people. First, set free the difficult employees. I prefer to use the term "set free" instead of "fire." Your top performers will thank you and become productive again. Second, recognize your own unconscious behaviors, the ones that might make you a difficult boss or employee.

Here is a short list of annoying behaviors that can make you difficult to deal with:

  1. You don't show up to work early. That's right, if you are not showing up early you are late. Your colleagues, if your not the boss, want to know you are going to show up for work. You stress them out by coming in at the last moment or just after your shift starts. They have lives outside of work and want to clock out. If you are the boss, you're not setting the best example; you are telling your staff you are casual about clocking in on time.
  2. You don't stay after your shift ends. Crazy, I know. Your colleagues want to know you have their back. If the workload is heavy and you check out right at the moment your shift ends without seeing if you can be of assistance then you are letting your coworkers down. If you are the boss - well, you should find other employment. No one wants to work for a boss who doesn't roll up her sleeves.
  3. You don't say please and thank you. Do I really have to explain this one? Okay, say please because honey catches more flies than vinegar. Sorry for the cliche, but you made me explain this. One of the largest complaints of employees is that they are not recognized for their efforts. What says, "I appreciate your effort," better than a simple "thank you?" This one applies to employees and bosses.
  4. You whine, complain, and gripe about the company, your colleagues, or your life. No one wants to work with a Debbie Downer. If all you have are complaints and no solutions, then you are just more noise in a noisy environment. Go through the proper channels if you have a legitimate complaint. Always do so in private.
  5. You say yes to everyone and everything and then don't do the work. Keep your agreements and clean up any broken agreement immediately. Learn to say "no" occasionally for Pete's sake. By setting boundaries you let your colleagues know where they can and cannot count on you. Everyone is happier.

You can't change other people. You can change yourself. Once you recognize you are someone's difficult person, you can begin to become self aware. Self awareness leads to humility and positive change. As Michael Jackson said, "Start with the man in the mirror."

Now that you are self aware, what changes do you plan to make?

Don Kermath

    More from Don Kermath
    Don Kermath
    Turnover Reduction Expert
    Phone: +1 217 621 4797
    Send email
    Latest News