Effective decision making
Sound decision making/problem solving is one of the keys to business success. But all too often I hear industry veterans telling me that “on-the-job training” and “passion” are all you need in this business. Unfortunately, I know plenty of hard-working/passionate hoteliers that have crashed and burned over the years. I suggest that improving cognitive ability (to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas and learn quickly) is the area where more operators could improve.
The easy answer for hotel employers is to hire smarter people. I know that is easier said than done. Clearly, hospitality is an academy industry, where we train a great deal of unskilled labor. The problem is we train them for tasks, but not for thinking. I recommend the following:
- Use assessment testing as part of your recruitment methodology to measure cognitive ability (there are plenty of smart people who are unskilled at the present time).
- Put prospects through “on-the-job” problem solving to see how they think and react (there are computer programs that can facilitate this if you don’t want to put someone on the floor).
- Coach all your managers in the hiring process and emphasize smarter is better (the best people attract the best people).
- Identify for behaviors that include cooperation, persistence, enthusiasm, volunteerism and adherence to rules (research shows these are predictors of cognitive ability as well).
- Create professional development programming for your people that continues the learning process and makes them smarter (try brainstorming, nominal group technique, Delphi technique, brainwriting and group decision support systems).
Let me leave you with one of the most practical and highly effective techniques for improved problem solving: “devil’s advocacy.” In other words, it is important when generating ideas or solutions also to contemplate their weaknesses. This helps you think objectively and practically about your ideas. Remember the trap: Ideas are like babies — none are as beautiful as your own.