Leadership Develops Daily, Not in a Day

Jan Chovanec
General Manager
Swissotel Krasnye Holmy Moscow

The biggest asset in the hospitality and leisure business is people.  This may be a cliché, however, it still deserves particular attention. Establishing and maintaining a stable, "healthy" workforce in the hospitality, leisure and convention industry is a challenge.  It is generally understood that employment in these industries is often considered to be temporary, or stop-gap employment, with team members leaving eventually for what they consider "greener pastures." It is a challenge for the hotel management to motivate staff to stay on the job and offer an efficient and high-level service that guests expect.  With a lot of hotels opening in Moscow and other Russian cities, many hotels try to do their best to retain their team members. What are the best ways to keep a good team?

It seems that a "good salary" has always ranked high on the list of job-related motivations.  Here in Moscow as well as in other cities and countries good wages do play a significant motivational role. However, quite a big number of employees of four- and five-star hotels also consider:

  • Opportunities for advancement and development, which proved to be one of the most important motivators;
  • Fair and consistent company policies;
  • Good company culture, i.e. the "company's personality;"
  • Good, trustworthy working relationships with managers and co-workers.

The other factors that can fulfill and motivate team members are: work that yields a sense of personal accomplishment, challenging work, a chance to grow on the job and participation in job-related matters. More and more I realize that here in Russia one of the most important motivational factors for hotel team members are regular expression of appreciation for good performance and employees' feeling of importance and making a contribution to the organization. There are also other factors that team members need: job enrichment, job rotation or job enlargement. Today's employees are more educated, wary and diverse than ever before. They possess an entrepreneurial quality. Today's staff is looking to grow and expand its knowledge and responsibilities — and fast. A lot of young people want to be managers right after they graduate from college or university. Yes, on the one hand, it is understandable. They have studied for several years, have a lot of energy and ideas, and they want to make a change and difference. In their mind, to start at a junior position (even though it can be a great experience) is not worthy.

However, without life experience and a certain "level of maturity," a manager's title can be just that — a title.  What I try to do in our hotel is take the time and sit down with my managers and employees and explain that everyone can grow in their current position, and that titles do not really mean much. It is not necessary for all of us to be "vice presidents;" it is enough that we can just be efficient, professional "leaders." I truly believe that when building a team, we need to search first for people who love to win. If it is difficult, we need to look for people who hate to lose. Therefore, in our hotel, my management team and I try to cultivate a sense of leadership among our team members, and it does not evolve in a day, it develops daily.

"Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand," wrote Confucius.