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.
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".