We were just talking business and the goings on in the Hospitality (mine) and Manufacturing / Marketing (his) industries when my husband shared news about one of his ex-bosses whose head had just rolled. The gent had seemed steadily fastened to his Swivel and firmly ensconced in his Corner Office. The plausible reasons flew thick and fast as we tried to put a finger on what may have triggered the sharp exit. The man has held a strong reputation in the industry, has a proven track record and is well-respected. Both the partner and I shook our respective heads in disbelief almost uttering in unison, ‘Is no one sacrosanct enough, not to be handed out the pink slip, regardless of their experience, expertise, meritocracy and magic figures they may have added to the bottom line?’ Must all of us be prone to getting the door shown, at some stage in our careers? Must the ‘sword of sack’ always hang perilously over our heads?
There must be something surely, that we can keep up at, so as to be able to leave just when we want to, on a positive note, with a warm handshake and a promise to meet again at another crossroad. Could the following be some of the important things we can do to keep our jobs?
The dynamics of businesses are in a constant state of change. Innovations and the latest R&D ensure that we must continually upgrade our product. Further, wide exposure, varied experiences, cross-cultural influences and personal demands bring about frequent changes in the needs and desires of the guests. They are demands that products and facilities the guests endorse must meet and satisfy. Furthermore, the profile of our customers keeps changing – we not only keep adding new segments to our guest pie but even the existing customers bring in their bagful of new wishes and expectations.
Suffice it to say that our business is in a consistent cycle of evolution. Therefore we, as significant cogs in the wheel, must stay relevant and ready to address these changes that spell growth.
Ask yourself! When the great wheels of motion, brought about by the intense winds of positioning and the cyclonic pressures of competition, churn with momentum, are you prepared to realign yourself both tactically and strategically? Only those of us who are will continue to remain useful to the organisations we work for?
If yes, then you are there for good!
Keep that Rolodex updated
Regardless of the changes in the way we communicate and stay in touch in these digitally-heightened times, a rolodex as a time-tested contraption to help us stay connected will never go out of fashion; as long as we continue to display our professional identities through our ‘calling cards.’
In hotels, a lot of people do each other’s jobs which were heretofore considered traditional territories. Think Sales, Public Relations, Guest Services. Now reflect on how many times a Front Office clerk or a Housekeeping executive has initiated a deal! With this sort of multi-functionality at play, a professional is most dynamic when he keeps his rolodex ship-shape, weeded out and up to speed with any fluctuation in his contact database. And who is the smartest sales person? It is the one who cross intersects the contact base from various departments, collects gems of information and reaps benefit by mining it wisely.
I have outsmarted myself on two distinct scores at different places of work. As a Media Relations Officer at the Australian Diplomatic Mission in India, I set about creating a magnum opus of a media list. Apart from the regular suspects, the list also had residence address and number, spouse name, birth date and anniversary date. Of course, it was a time consuming exercise and done without the help of an assistant (the High Comm. had a no secretary policy). I, often, insisted on speaking with the targeted journalist / editor to get the information. At the end of it, I had invested enough time to get to know the person better. ‘The’ list, indeed, paved the way for fostering a great relationship. To this day, well 20 years after, I still count a lot of people on that list as good friends or business associates as the case may be.
Another time, I made an ambitious plan to make a giant database of guest contacts, pooling information from my own office, the General Manager’s, Sales, Front Office, F&B and the Guest Relations departments. I set about putting all relevant information – from likes and dislikes to allergies and tiniest of preferences. Of course information on important dates in the guest’s life was de rigueur. And to make it one mean list, I also put all the relevant data around the guest’s virtual avatar. A list, such as this, kept in its most healthy and up-to-date condition is such a potent arsenal for conducting the business of hoteliering.
The Rolodex is only as good as the use it is put to. A good list of contacts that is allowed to sit out for long and gather dust is a career-killer.
In most businesses, but primarily in industries such as hospitality, Networking is simply butter to our bread, elevating the simple to sublime.
There is a plethora of people to network with – colleagues from other departments, team mates from sister hotels in the chain, most definitely guests – all kinds viz. room, restaurant, Spa or those visiting any other facility offered by your hotel, the media, members of the fraternity, community folk, people from allied industries – travel agents, government bodies, tour operators, tourism boards and international travel associations.
I find networking to be one of the best real-time teachers, imparting valuable lessons that you imbibe both consciously and subliminally. Besides, networking keeps you in the circuit, ensures top of the mind recall for you and your brand and provides a ready track for two-way information sharing.
Finally, in the present times of one-touch, instant communication, there is no excuse for not staying networked with the right audience. The only downside of this, perhaps, maybe that you must watch for the overkill!
Keep your ears, eyes and mind open
The above should, in any case, be a mantra for your life in general. It, undoubtedly, pays richly to keep your senses sharp, soaking in important information, new knowledge and experiences as you go up and along.
While at work in a people-rich environment, you must be aware of the concentric and intersecting circles the human equations work in. You must learn to accept peculiarities and idiosyncrasies, be receptive of behavioural differences, take the high road more often than not and be a great team player in the dynamics of the disparate smorgasbord of attitudes and aspirations.
Keeping your ears and eyes open also helps you be in touch with the grapevine – certainly an inevitable, irresistible and often the main source of information regarding important goings-on and changes in the offing.
But the most important thing is to keep your mind open and be amenable to changes, novel additions to your work life, new colleagues, new way of doing things and of the evolutionary aspect of business as it gets ready to fight new competition and meet its vision headlong.
Be indispensable as far as possible
None of us are really indispensable in any of the personal or professional roles we play. 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.
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 to 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 overcome 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 an officiating GM 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; all by challenging herself and attempting to make herself more valuable and indispensable.
Your professional destiny is really in the cup of your palms, the lines notwithstanding; and in the set of choices you make!
Picture courtesy - Google Images