Happiness at work should not be confused with laisser-faire or nice boss who lets you get away with everything.
A few weeks back I did a presentation on happiness at work to an audience of 300 hoteliers in varies ages and positions. At the end of my 45min talk a young man stood up and complimented my speech and immediate after told me that it sounds all good but it does not work.
He went on explaining how he had tried to implement happiness in a hotel in the regions of Czech Republic. He had been nice to people, focused on proper pay and all the decent benefits that they could ask for.
Within months people started to leave and those who were left became complacent and ignored what he was saying.
The back side of the coin and strong argument for many who claims that "happiness at work does no work".
I will be the first one to argue that it will not work if you interpret happiness at work as no one has to work, not follow rules or deal with issues that are arising.
Three days ago I had a conversation with a chef who said a cook who drinks beer on the job, has to go even if it is close to impossible to find a replacement. I couldn't have said it better myself and funny enough did exactly that 3 years ago.
A friend and inspiration to me, Martin Pecka (CEO of Etnetera and a true happiness believer), told me that the first thing he did on his road to Happiness at work (some 15 years ago) was to remove priority parking for management. He said "we should all be held to the same standard".
Rules are there to be followed and to be followed by everyone. If you bend the rules for one you have to bend for everyone or they will bend it for you.
Create only rules that leaders and team are able to adhere to always. Remove rules that management bend often for themselves or in order to satisfy the guests.
One of the most challenge tasks for a leader is to deal with uncomfortable situations with employees. Whether it is personal hygiene or performance related issues. Over and over again I meet managers who are doing everything in their power to avoid discussing these issues. Like the manager who is being promoted away so that its not our problem anymore. Several times I have held conversation with senior manager in chains who told me "he/she will soon be promoted to a senior role in a different hotel and then it is not our head ache anymore".
or the situation of someone smelling really bad or bad breath - management are discussing for the longest time who should break it to the person. because no one wants to be the carrier of bad news and it is embarrassing for all parties.
Reality is that if we took the approach of helping and said I want what is best for you, then it can not be bad news to tell someone that they smell or that their performance is not adequate. On several occasions have I sat down with employees that no one wants to deal with and told them "fairly straight forward" that they are not fitting or they have personal hygiene issues. Each and every time I prepare myself by using positive meditation; ie I tell myself over and over again that I want to be kind, I want to be helpful and I am acting in the best interest of the person in front of me. I am not focused on me or the companies best interest, I am here purely because I want to make this person shine to their best ability.
It keeps surprising me afterwards how well it went and how easy it was to bring what many consider bad news to a person when your intentions and your body language signals kindness and good intentions.
Coming back to the enthusiastic but disappointed hotelier that I met at the conference. He came to me out after the official part was over and we had a great conversation about what he maybe could have done differently with his team.
I told him (and maybe I shocked him) that I am a very demanding leader. I ask a lot from my team, I expect them to work hard and long hours when it is needed.
However, I would never criticize them for leaving early or question their choice of holiday days. I trust that they know when they can go on holiday and when this is not appropriate.
Trust creates loyalty. Trust should be given 100% and if broken removed and then give chances to reinstall and to regain.
After the conference I received several requests for doing workshops or lead discussions for hoteliers on how to better manage these often difficult topics. If you think I should drop me a line here, email or LinkedIn message me.
I wish you to be a happy hotelier as it is a very rewarding job if people are put first.
This is one of the questions I was recently asked after my presentation about Happiness at work and my soon to be published book Put your people first. I was invited to talk at the award ceremony of Copenhagen Bicycle for hotels who have cooperated best with them during the year. (only in Copenhagen would you have the “golden pedal award”).
I was interested in the question, so I enquired more into her thoughts and her stories was that she had recently been promoted to reception manager from receptionist. She had several friends who were receptionist and now she was not sure how to handle her relations.
She told me that she had a great boss, however the boss was always very busy and didn’t have so much time for her. (another topic on its own – how can a boss be too busy to talk to the people who work for them?)
It is an interesting topic, as most hoteliers are moving their careers through promotions within their own teams and as I was listening to her; it occurred to me that this has a major impact on why we have so much unfairness in the hotel workplace.
Because you are most likely not best friends with everyone. You have your group of people that you hang out with. When one in that group is promoted that person, mist likely subconsciously, gives preferences when scheduling, pre-tell information and special treatments (holidays, days off, lunch breaks etc) to the friends. This creates unfairness and subsequently can create major issues in the department.
Should you stop having friends?
Of course not, you should keep your friends. Life without work friends can be very hard and what would your friends think of you if you stopped being with them? Everyone, regardless of position, needs friends.
What is important?
Here are a couple of advices that I answered at the presentation (I’m sure you can come up with many more):
This topic and many more will be discussed in my book that will be released on 8th of November. Get your signed copy by pre-ordering on www.happyhotelsbook.com
This article originally appeared on www.monikahilm.com
A friend of mine told me over coffee that she had been for an exciting job interview. Everything had been going really well. The job was interesting but salary was not great - however she reasoned that she was fortunate enough to needing a high income as her husband had an excellent job.
Then the interviewer told her his expectations of coming at 8am and being in the office the expected 8 hours with 1/2 hour deducted for lunch.
My friend explained that she had to drop children at school 8.20 and could not come before 8.30-8.45 and had to leave between 4-5pm most days.
As she was telling me the story I could tell that she had gotten so disappointed when the interviewer just flat turned her down due to these limitations.
I was thinking... what kind of person is interviewing my friend, who is a very educated and intelligent, and does not see that she has high morale and passion for what she does? How could anyone miss that she would be an asset to any organisation she would join.
I have several friends that are stay at home moms, because they find it impossible to find a job that allows flexibility around children drop off and pick up. Consequently there is a hidden workforce that has capacity, intellect and passion that is not being utilized, especially in expat societies.
Hiring mothers is always a good choice - by giving them flexibility and understand for drop off/pick up and sick children you gain a productive and efficient worker beyond any expectations.
My next step would be to have two mothers on maternity leave work sharing as General Manager - would that not be awesome?
Do you know anyone who already does this? I would love to hear about it.
Write a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A short passage out of my book PUT YOUR PEOPLE FIRST.
This is taken out of Chapter 14 Where do we come from?
Going back in time, there are interesting stories from Greek and Norse mythology explaining the original purpose of hospitality.
In ancient Greece, the cradle of European intellect, Zeus was often called “Zeus Xenia”, the protector of the traveler. Philoxenia is the Greek word for hospitality. Philo means “I am fond of/I love” and Xenia means “the unknown guest”.
Philoxenia consists of two basic rules:
As a fond lover of the Greek style of hospitality (and their food), I find that even today these two rules apply. The Greeks are famous for their hospitality and temperament, right? I have experienced, as a Greek island hopper, invitations to weddings, feasts or even overnight stays in Greek homes. As long as you treat the Greeks with respect and honor, you will be treated as royalty.
"There are many school of thoughts given about the topic discussed in this blog. I think the leader is the source of motivation and spirit for the team members so the one should never cry in front of the team members because it will lower the morale of the team."
I am grateful for the above comments, however I have disagree. Why would a emotion like sadness decrease the morale of the team?
I know most managers have raised their voice and showed anger/frustration, so why not show sadness?
We know that 90% of all our decisions are including emotions. Our emotions are part of us being humans. I say it is because we are scared of sadness and we fear that it will make us look weak.
I argue that knowing/showing our weaknesses displays signals of strengths. Only the strongest leaders are able to display the full range of emotions.
You have to have a relationship with your team in order to be able to show the full range of emotions - so if it lowers the moral it tells me that the leader does not have close relations with the team.
In 2 days I will give a speech at Spotlight Hotel Investment Poland & CEE in Warsaw about the topic of my passion and book "Put your people first and the rest will follow".
I am sitting in the hotel room and reviewing what I am going to talk about. I have the slides ready and I am working on the introduction:
Why focus on happiness?
I have been working with this topic for 5 years now, and I have become so absorbed by it that I have almost forgotten why not everyone focus on this?
Am I close to the truth if I say it's because of FEAR?
Could it be something else that drives senior leaders away from focusing on happiness of their people.
Could it be ignorance? Could it be that leaders still today do not know/ be aware of the amazing impact happiness has on productivity, creativity, trust, loyalty and most importantly the health of the people.
I refuse to believe that any senior leader want to be a tyrant towards their people. So why are so many of us still behaving in this way?
Weekly I am reading about people who are leaving their jobs because of "bullying bosses".
I got a few of my slides for my presentation from a friend and passionate believer in Happiness at work Michal Srajer and one slide in particular is very powerful. The rocks of separation between:
what we know what we do
Science have been telling us for at least the last 30 years that you get better results from people if you treat them fairly, respectfully, give trust and autonomy. Then your people will reward you with loyalty and dedication and all the other benefits that comes with happy people.
If no other argument will convince a leader to be do what is right - the customer/guests and clients will like your people more if they are happy.
A happy person makes me happy and makes me stay longer - ie buy more...would that convince you?
Today I had the pleasure of sitting together with a young successful entrepreneur that has at the age of 26 already two offices for his company; one in Prague and one in New York.
We talked about culture and the challenges he is facing in his company with maintaining the culture as the company expanding in two locations, however his greatest concern was how to ensure that all the part-timers and external temporary workers are really in the culture and treating the clients as his full-time employees knows that his company wants to treat their clients.
After some further explanations from Vojta about his company, I suggested him to try 3 things for his part-timers:
1. Set up an app for them to let the company know when they are able to work (giving the choice to them)
2. Implement a "champion system" where it is clearly communicated how you will celebrate the part-timers success.
3. Set up a 15 min training at the start of each gig of what is your company culture. Make it easy for anyone to train anyone-else on what the core of your company stands for.
After we parted I realized that I had forgotten to tell him the about the:
Connecting part-timers to your organization is always a clever move, as they can be brand ambassadors and sales people of your company, if you are treating them right.
Apart from that it is always the best thing to do - to treat people right and it feels good. It is also very good for your reputation - no negatives only lots of positive outcomes if you invest the time in looking after your part-timers.
Crucial in the process of career support of the team members is to understand the person’s strengths and weakness and be able to have an honest and open conversation around it. Sometimes this process you realize that the only way forward is to go separate ways.
When you have reached that point as manager, you have one task and one task only and that is to make sure that the person leaves you and your company with a good feeling about him/herself and also the company if possible, but that is secondary.
How do I make a person feel good about being fired?
The respect from host to guest has been over emphasized in various way by slogans like:
“Guest is always right, completely right” Marks & Spencer
“Live like a King” Drawbridge Inn
“Everything. Right where you need it” Hilton Garden Inn
“Your success is our highest calling” Marriott
“The Best Value Under the Sun” Days Inn
The role of the guest has changed over time from a humble and grateful visitor to a demanding consumer.
Most guests are still today wonderful and there are many encouraging stories from all parts of the world including all nations, races and cultures of people that are wonderful guests who have totally embraced the true meaning of their roles in the symbiosis of hospitality.
It really is that simple... in theory.
In reality we might not even realize that what we are doing is counter productive to a happy team.
This is the reason I am writing the book "Happy Hotels; put your employees first and the rest will follow".
Interested? Soon you can sign up for a pre-copy of the book through my site. Stay tuned.
My passions are managing and improving the results of hotels through employee centered processes. My motto: "Put your employees first and the rest will follow. Don't just say it - show it through the actions that you take".