Don't Worry, Be Happy!

This month I want to talk about guest facing staff. Every one of us who has ever been in that role falls somewhere on a scale. Let’s use a hotel front desk as an example. At one end is the Agent who knows the guests names immediately, chats with them about their day, knows someone from their home town, and takes way too long to check them in, followed by misplacing their paperwork. This one’s anthem is “Don’t worry, be happy!”  At the other end is the technically efficient, highly structured agent, who always balances to the penny, figuratively and literally, and can check a guest in and get them on their way in mere seconds, without ever changing expression. His slogan is “don’t be happy, worry!”  Think about the last time you checked into a hotel. Where did the Front Desk Agent fall on the scale, and which do you prefer?

The obvious answer is to maintain a front desk staff that falls somewhere in the middle of the scale, perhaps tending just a bit toward “Don’t worry, be happy”. This wouldn’t be the case in every department. For instance, you might prefer that your Maintenance or Engineering departments fall somewhere on the other side of the middle of the scale. In other professions, there are jobs that you might very well want at one end of the spectrum, for example Airplane Mechanic, Secret Service Agent or Walmart™ greeter.

At the end of the day, all of these staffs are a reflection of their leaders. Often, mid-level department heads in a hotel have a bit less experience and tend to hire in their own image. So, it seems to be that you as the leader or owner of this hotel should hire department heads who are somewhere near your vision for that department. Otherwise, it is likely that you are going to be fighting an uphill battle to get where you want to be. Then, once you have the right person in place, you can go about the task of training them to hire a range of staff with complementary skills.

Next time you observe the staff of a department in your hotel, picture that scale. Then think about where you believe they should be, and where they actually are. Maybe you’ll be pleased, or maybe you will decide that you have work to do.