Pages

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Mentoring and the Master Innholders.


So towards the end of 2016, we had a meeting with the some of the marvelous MIALD Alumni, generously supported by the Apex City of London with Aliaks Jos and Oliver Raggett.

We chose Mentoring because it is topical as we are trying to successfully grow our mentoring network within the Master Innholders' family.

The grand plan is to build a cascade from "top down" with Master Innholders mentoring St. Julian's Scholars and then St.Julian's Scholars mentoring the MIALD Alumni once their programme finishes.

The outgoing MIALD cohort also buddies up with the new cohort each year, so currently the much-missed folk from Cohort 5 are doing sterling work with supporting The Sixy Ones in Cohort 6 who have just started their programme for the year.

On April 20th at the St. Julian's Scholars' Spring Meeting, we will be discussing the process of creating a more formalised Mentoring programme between them and the MIALD graduates. (I rather like MI-Mentor as a potential name for it!)

So the purpose of this particular blog is to share everything that we did on that day in the Autumn in the hope that it will provide a good framework for the future. It might also just be useful for people who are considering mentoring in general...


Shopping List for the Day
As a starting point, we got together and pooled ideas for what we wanted to know about mentoring. Huddled in familiar fashion around various flipcharts, the outputs included:

  • What it is exactly - and how to be involved
  • How to do it and be successful
  • Formal versus informal 
  • Benchmarking - so what does good look like?
  • How to choose the best fit
  • What are the boundaries and how to set them?
  • How to define the purpose
  • How to find a mentor
  • How to squeeze the juice from the process and get the maximum benefit.
From the shopping list we created a menu for our day including:
  • What is mentoring?- and what it isn't
  • Why do it and what benefits are there to be gained?
  • How to do it really well
  • Being a successful mentor and mentee
The origin of mentoring is from Homer's Odyssey which tells the tale of Odysseus, King of Ithaca who sets off to fight in the Trojan Wars and entrusts the care of his entire household, including his son Telemachus, to Mentor. So from this story, the word has evolved to mean trusted advisor, friend, teacher and wise person.

For further definitions we can use:

Mentoring is a supportive learning relationship between a caring individual who shares knowledge, experience and wisdom with another individual who is ready and willing to benefit from this exchange, to enrich their professional journey. Suzanne Faure

Mentoring involves primarily listening with empathy, sharing experience (usually mutually), professional friendship, developing insight through reflection, being a sounding board, encouraging. David Clutterbuck

or closer to home... A powerful process in which a more skilled and experienced person serving as a role model advises and encourage a less skilled and less experienced person. The purpose is to help the mentee realise their full potential and achieve their career aspirations.
Harry Murray in The Caterer, August 19 2016; p26.

So it is helpful to consider that there are different forms of mentoring and that it can be formal or informal. 

Either can work and be extremely effective - it is important to be clear about the purpose...

..and what are the benefits? 

More huddling round a flipchart produced:

Benefits for Mentees:
Opportunities
Gain knowledge and experiences
Find your own potential
Self confidence
Safe environment
Motivation
Progression and development
Increased drive
Inspiration
Variety

and for the Mentor:
Coming full circle and putting something back
Inspiration
Satisfaction - knowing we are helping someone else
Gaining new perspectives and ideas
Educational
Motivational
Business benefits - a whole range for the business and for the industry in general
Confidence building
Increased self awareness 

And while we are exploring...exactly what is the difference between mentoring and coaching?




Skills and Attitudes of the Mentee:
Being open to feedback
Being open and honest
Listening and patience
Realistic
Mature
Driven and wanting to develop
Proactive
Appreciative
Participative and open to advice


And for the Mentor....


So now we have established what it is and isn't, Part 2 will follow on with some hints and tips we developed for making sure that mentoring is a success, gains all the benefits for both parties and avoids the disadvantages.



PS - If you missed that Alumni gathering, then keep an eye on your in-box because we've another one hatching for May 22nd...

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders New Cohort - so who are the Sixy Ones?

MIALD Cohort 6 at Pennyhill Park. Monday 3rd April 2017
The new cohort for the Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders Diploma got off to a great start at the weekend, elegantly hosted by Danny Pecorelli and Julian Tomlin at the glorious Exclusive Hotels' Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey.

As Cohort 6 of this amazing experience, they are truly Sixy! Selected from a considerable number of applicants and succeeding through a rigorous interview process at Innholders Hall, they are to be congratulated on gaining their place and their sponsorship from their own employers and generous funding from the Master Innholders for the next year on the programme.

They are:
  1. Magdalena Bissor, In Room Dining & Executive Lounge Manager, Hilton London Bankside
  2. Jonathan Hewitt, Banqueting Floor Manager, Grosvenor House,
  3. Santa Marino, Front Desk Supervisor, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 
  4. Andrew Muir, Guest Experience Manager, 41 Hotel, Red Carnation Hotels, 
  5. Ronald Rosario, Restaurant Manager, Outlaws at the Capital Hotel
  6. Craig Browne, Front Desk Manager, The Goodwood Hotel
  7. Rupert Dickinson, Guest Relations Manager, Belmond Le Manior aux Quat'saisons
  8. Mark Down, Assistant Hotel Manager, Deer Park Country House Hotel
  9. Alexandra Jenkinson, Head Receptionist, Cliveden House Hotel
  10. Attia Abu Khalil, Food & Beverage Manager, Fairlawns Hotel and Spa,
  11. Adam Lawson, Assistant Food & Beverage Manager, Danesfield House,
  12. Damien Martin, Operations Manager, The Abbey Hotel, Bath,
  13. Victoria Neilson, C&B Manager, Lainston House 
  14. Raul Deflorian, Front Office Manager, 45, Park Lane
  15. William Osborne, Bar Manager, Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa
  16. Katy Pasternakiewicz, Reception Manager, The Vineyard
  17. Kelly Patten, General Manager, The Greyhound on the Test
  18. Laura Scott, Restaurant Manager, Pennyhill Park
 We had a lot of fun getting to know each other and settling in to the programme. For the next year we will explore hotel management through a variety of lenses and experience a wide and varied range of hosting properties.      

For this block we focused on personal and professional development and became more closely connected to our own industry organisations so that they can support us, and we can support them  in line with career development. As a result of their own research and presentations, any one of the Sixy Ones can now talk you through the work and purpose of: The British Hospitality Association, The Institute of Hospitality, People 1st, Springboard, Hospitality Action and The Master Innholders - including knowing who St. Julian was and why he is our Patron Saint!

It wasn't all hard work though and we had time to sample various gins before sitting down to a fabulously crafted dinner with wine pairings in the evening.

The next block is at the Novotel in Hammersmith in May, generously hosted by Michael Sloan and his team.          

I hope the Sixy Ones are looking forward to it as much as I am!      


Monday, 27 June 2016

Why are we all so angry?

As a trainer, I constantly and calmly assure people that "there is no such thing as a stupid question" - because that is what I believe. So please don't be angry with me for asking it.

Maybe it's not a stupid question or an obvious answer...

I don't want to use my precious but inconsistent blog to make any form of political statement about the Referendum and so will try to keep my thoughts and feelings about it to myself - and I have plenty! But my over-arching feeling as we start a new week and try to focus on the business at hand is to consider how much anger there is around me - and I am frightened by it.

For example, on a personal level, I have been with friends and family since Friday and experienced anger replacing love in conversations and relationships at close quarters and in many different forms.
On my various social media feeds, people are being rude to other people, shouting them down and offering public humiliation as a solution to a shared problem (or opportunity, depending on your view). The precious generation of my children is very angry with my generation and blaming the Baby-Boomers for all ills.

At a bigger level, we are angry with our Government, the politicians are angry with each other,
we are angry with Brussels and the whole world seems to be angry with us. Scotland is angry, London is angry...

Now the anger is being expressed as racism and becoming more overt, with graffiti on the Polish Centre in Hammersmith, reports of nasty notes being popped through people's letterboxes and my heart is weeping for what we might become and things that might be done to other people to harm them in covert and overt ways.

If I an frightened, then what must it be like for people who are not in my incredibly privileged position?

As always, when people are frightened and upset, there is a strong defensive reaction to resort to blame - it's a normal psychological and physiological chain of events. Don't get me wrong - am I angry? HELL YES! Furious is a word lacking strength for my inner feelings, but it's not about me and I am coming to realise this as I grapple to gain some learning out of the mess that I find myself in.

When anger and fear become directed at concepts, ideas, countries and groups, it become polarised and divisive. More significantly it becomes de-humanised and terrible things generally follow as a consequence. That frightens me, and in case you don't know me - I don't scare easily!

So, my plea for today is, as you go about your daily life and notice yourself acting or thinking in anger or about to blame someone else, try and notice it and replace it for something less toxic. Be kind to someone instead of being angry and in some small way, we might be able to unite to build a better world.

And if you have a role as a leader - then get out there and lead your socks off - it's what we all need right now.


Friday, 3 July 2015

How can you support this?


To all my LinkedIn colleagues who may book or use conference space, or want to find somewhere different for a very good lunch...

The Clink Restaurant at HMP Brixton Prison is holding two previews: July 21st and July 28th.

This really successful and worthwhile charity is hospitality at its best. Do go and see for yourself what can be achieved when good training combines with structure, self worth and purpose.

The facilities are first class but the check in procedure is a bit different, so give them notice if you are intending to go.


Thursday, 2 July 2015

My Blog: How will you put the EASE in Season?

My Blog: How will you put the EASE in Season?: Recently, I was invited for lunch by the Bournemouth Accommodation and Hotel Association (BAHA) with the role of guest speaker. The sun s...

How will you put the EASE in Season?


Recently, I was invited for lunch by the Bournemouth Accommodation and Hotel Association (BAHA) with the role of guest speaker. The sun shone all day on the golden beaches stretching in both directions in front of the Sandbanks Hotel and it was a very good lunch indeed.


To earn my place at the table, I researched a subject that I hoped would be of interest to the audience and created a short presentation of my findings. Entitled "Putting the EASE in your Season" the content was about how to Engage All Seasonal Employees - a challenge that is shared by many hospitality businesses and with other industries too. 

For example, children of a certain culture will eventually arrive at the realisation that Father Christmas is a Generation Y seasonal worker in an Amazon warehouse far removed from the North Pole and with no reindeer in sight.

So many businesses and enterprises rely on seasonal and short term contract employees, that my curiosity led me to compile a list of tips, presented in a chronological sequence around the employee life cycle:

 Firstly, let's start with a definition of engagement so that we are all on the same page. One way of defining engagement is "the emotional commitment that an employee has to the organisation and its goals". This is not the same as happiness, or equivalent to satisfaction. The outcome of engagement is the deployment of discretionary effort - and that is the stardust that enables any hospitality enterprise to really fly. Discretionary effort is the effort that I (and you) choose to give. It's mine (and yours) to do with as we wish and we can all provide or withhold it at will. Just pause for a moment and consider ... 

How much of your success relies on people doing the job they are paid to do? 

The answer is interesting because if just "doing the job" was sufficient, then why do we need to jump up and down to encourage concepts such as innovation, creativity, going the extra mile, exceeding expectations etc? 

In my experience, discretionary effort is the life-blood of our hospitality operations because we rely on people to care, give themselves, connect and have a positive attitude to what they are doing, rather than mechanically perform their duties as per the rota. So, engaged employees are doing things because they care. 

I could argue, as Devil's advocate, that this may be easier to achieve with seasonal people than with full-time, routine-fatigued, mortgage-paying employees who need to get their children safely into child care and lunch-boxes packed before they can utilise the discretionary effort necessary to love their jobs and your guests and customers!

As operators, we know this instinctively, but research also proves that engaged employees:
  • Are more productive
  • Provide better customer service
  • Achieve greater levels of customer satisfaction
  • Have fewer accidents
  • Are more likely to return and / or re-commit as seasonal employees.

According to research conducted by Gallup, over 70% of variances in engagement are related to management and their influence on the environment. (My own academic research with a selection of hotels proved a higher rate than this). If your business success and achievement of objectives are invested in seasonal workers, then creating the best possible employee experience should be an integral part of your business strategy.  

Once that strategy is clear and aligned to the objective, then it's time to work up some tactics to fit:

1) First things first - begin well by:
  • Hiring the right people in the first place. The simple fact is that some people find it easier and are more likely to be engaged than others, (and some would struggle to be engaged without the aid of high voltage electricity). It's a psychology thing.
  • Hire for the right reasons. Again, I know this sounds obvious, yet availability often plays a big part in the decision to employ and filling that slot in the rota is not a good reason!
  • Consider doing group interviews. Give them something to do, observe closely and choose the ones that best fit your culture. 
  • Be choosy and don't compromise on quality
  • Expand the pool of potential people and go fishing in a different or bigger pool
  • Extend your use of social media to attract more people to you who might be looking for work

2) Work the all important spaces between interview offer and start date. 
  • Stay in touch and be welcoming. This is easier now with social media, so consider short videos of welcome, apps, information delivered to smart phones and variety of messages and media.
  • Provide them with an irresistibly good story to tell their friends and family about what they will be doing for the season that elicits the response "how exciting!" rather than "poor you". Engagement has an element of pride attached, so don't expect that to happen by itself.

3) Onboarding / Starting / Induction
  • Make them welcome. Really welcome. It is important to appeal to, and satisfy, fundamental human needs to be included, feel part of things and to belong. This is psychology from first principles, so the early stages of your relationship are vital. Make them count.
  • Go out of your way to create a good first impression
  • Make sure that your communication extends beyond what it is you want them to do and includes understanding of your culture and what you are trying to achieve.
  • Find out what is important to them. Get to know them from the beginning. Be personal and not process-driven.
  • Don't front-load the training at the beginning and then sit back and wait for boredom to take over. Leave them something to look forward to and sign post it clearly. Anticipation of something good or exciting wakes up the Dopamine receptors in the brain - and that's a useful ingredient for the neurological chemical cocktail of engagement.

4) During employment and throughout the season
  • Keep it fun. Make up games, quizzes and activities to help them remain engaged, continuing to learn and interested. (Everything you create can be re-cycled, so nothing is wasted) 
  • Be flexible. They have needs too, so a bit of give and take may be required and reasonable.
  • Incentivise. Be creative and change incentives frequently. Regular, small incentives, rewards and recognition are more powerful than one boring incentive that soon becomes part of the wallpaper of work.
  • Mix it up. Consider different jobs, tasks, cross training, responsibilities. 
  • Make it competitive.
  • Keep it engaging. Involve them fully in the business and make sure they understand the requirements and how their contribution counts.
  • Keep it personal. Help them to understand the needs of different guests, groups and individuals, the objectives of the stay etc. and encourage them to personalise their service accordingly.
  • Use communication, team meetings, briefings etc. to be constantly remindeed of team goals and objectives. 
  • Make it relevant to them. Connect to their purpose as much as you want them to connect to yours.
  • Set goals and make the most of the fact that goal theory is a strong psychological factor in motivation and therefore in engagement.
  • Collect the most frequently asked questions for your guests and help employees to construct model answers. Super-useful if English is not their first language.
  • Encourage them to value their seasonal experience as learning and help them to achieve full value from it.
  • Be clear about skills acquisition. Help them to realise that the skills they are developing with you are with them for life and will be valuable in the future.
  • Make this relevant to their aspirations (which you already know because you have taken the time and trouble to find out), whether that is business management, dealing with the public, getting to work on time, problem solving, conflict handling, complaint resolution etc.
  • Generally encourage and nurture a mindset that this is not a punctuation in their life, but a really useful connection to the rest of it.
  • Work together to create a good learning experience, if possible recorded as such. The Institute of Hospitality provides a useful framework for supporting this in the form of the Hospitality Adding Value for Employability (HAVE) Scheme. This is available FREE from https://www.instituteofhospitality.org  Hop onto the Careers button and click on the drop down menu - it's all there.
  • Let them gain some leadership skills and experience too. Create some projects and opportunities to unleash their leadership skills and give praise and feedback on strengths deployed.
  • Give feedback. Frequently. Make it personal, specific, sincere and timely. 
  • Let them know what they are good at and how/why they are valued
  • Lower your expectations of their levels of engagement. Then you can be devastatingly impressed and grateful when they show a glimmer. The psychological term for that is positive reinforcement.
  • Pull up on poor performance. Don't let it go by unnoticed or apathy will wash over your team quicker than the tide over your seven miles of beautiful Bournemouth beaches.
  • Question the logic of the end of season bonus. You may be rewarding the wrong behaviour and paying people for sticking it out and just turning up each day. Think about it - Do you really want a bunch of hostages serving your gorgeous guests? I'm not saying don't do it, after all you know your business, but just suggesting that you question it. Because one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result!

5) Ending
  • The way you complete the relationship at the end of the season is as important as the beginning.
  • Consider creating a group or alumni who have worked the same season to create a sense of belonging. For example a Facebook page or WhatsApp,  so that they can keep in touch and connect with you and with each other. 
  • Celebrate the end of season and honour their contribution
  • Consider offering a bonus for introductions for next year's intake
  • Collect their comments and recommendations to help with recruitment next year - on social media or via a form of visitor / guest book 
  • Conduct exit / end of season interviews so that lessons can be learned and there is a process of continuous improvement.

So, on the fingers of one hand, you can count 5 key areas of focus for engaging your seasonal employees. In a future blog, I will add the psychological underpinning to these suggestions that I mentioned briefly in my presentation.

For now, lastly and perhaps most importantly, look after yourselves so that you can stay at the top of your game and stay passionate about your business so that the climate is positive, exciting and successful. 

To all the ladies I had the pleasure of lunching with, and the rest of the BAHA, I wish you a successful and engaging summer season that you manage with EASE.




Thursday, 18 July 2013

Are Your Managers Actually Managing?

I do a lot of leadership development with groups and individuals - and there is no doubt that I love it.

However, just lately, I find myself questioning whether we have somehow neglected the development of some of the basic management disciplines - and then expected a kind of leadership silver bullet to solve it?

Let me be frank - the trigger for some of this realisation is because I am launching a new management qualification programme for hospitality and tourism to market - and am feeling more than a tad passionate about it.

Through developing it, piloting it and running it with considerable success and positive results, I have fallen back in love with my version of "the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Hospitality Managers" and wondering why I haven't been supporting their cause before now.

Let me give you an example...

Very recently I was asked to coach a talented young man who holds a management position in another industry entirely (and one that I know very little about).

On first meeting him, his technical knowledge of their core business was very impressive.  What he didn't know about their manufacturing, production and technology processes was not worth knowing and so, based on that superior knowledge, he had been promoted into the ranks and realms of management.

And then the trouble started...

A couple of tricky team members and a bit of ganging up, a couple of customer handling errors, a new bit of machinery that wasn't providing sufficient ROI and a bit of a GP margin / ratio dip and hey-presto - we are into some seriously deep water of drowning proportions.

Enter THE COACH (with pants on over trousers and a big S on the front) with a brief from my client to identify what leadership training might be of benefit.

I basically sat and listened (like you do) for quite a long time, while he unknowingly gave me a crystal clear picture of  what he described as "a hole" that he had dug himself into (and then had other people chucking a few shovelfuls of dirt in on top of him to ensure that he had no chance of escaping).

With him in that hole were:

  • A general lack of organisation in the form of any sort of process or capacity management 
  • An overload of micro management and focus on the detail - and no delegation 
  • No visible strategy for sales or pipeline management
  • No clarity of customer and stakeholder management principles - (other than under-pricing and giving stuff away to keep them happy!)
  • No understanding of the basic relationships between sales, cost of sales, margin and a big fat GP, or any way of using financial data.
  • No understanding of how to set targets and objectives and manage people through them
  • No understanding of how to performance manage people - and consequently no confidence to do it either
  • No time to think about any of  it as he was just so darn busy fire fighting the whole time 
oh ...and he had a lovely new baby gurgling away at home, so the sleep stakes were pretty skinny too.


In my opinion, if you want to really help that guy and get his department performing and making money, then help him build a ladder - or a full scaffolding framework - for himself and support him while he manages himself out of that hole.

And forget - completely - about training in leadership behaviours for a while.

Don't waste your money and don't waste his time - because like a rare cloud in the morning at the moment, it will evaporate the minute there is the slightest heat.

First, he needs a structured set of management processes and skills to help him actually MANAGE.

He needs help to get organised, form a strategy, understand how teams form and how to motivate and direct them, plan some objectives, learn how to delegate and manage his time, understand the fundamentals of how the beans get counted and grow a pair with regard to managing performance - for immediate and urgent starters.

If he was working in Hospitality, I'd put him straight onto our foundation Diploma programme and start with the management basics.

How many of your managers could do with learning the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Hospitality Managers" and the basic fundamentals of management?

Oh - and in case you are wondering, even the fact that they have a business degree isn't a remedy.

So did my friend above - but it was a long time ago - and he was a student then, it was all so easy in theory!

www.merlin-consultancy.com

Friday, 19 April 2013

New Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders Diploma Programme starts this weekend!

Welcome to our 16 new successful candidates.

Congratulations on being selected and we hope you really enjoy the next few months of your exciting development journey.