Successful transitioning

Welcome to what I will call “Boutique Speak 2.0.” As CEO of Mirbeau Hospitality Services (MHS), I am pleased to have the opportunity to pick up where my predecessor — the former COO of MHS — left off. The purpose of Boutique Speak is to provide insights and ideas of use to owners and operators of properties of 50 rooms or less — information that can be used toward more successful and profitable boutique operations.

Today, I have the perfect subject: successful personnel transitions.

In the boutique hotel industry, losing one of your key employees can be a nightmare. In fact, many owners and operators dread the thought of losing a general manager or a department head. The fact is, in a small organization, there really is only so much room for growth, and it is inevitable that people who work hard and perform well within your organization may someday move on to another opportunity. 

Recently, at one of our properties, we lost a key employee who took advantage of a wonderful opportunity to advance his career — an opportunity we could not compete with. Though the send-off was bittersweet, we were genuinely excited for his career advancement, and we were gratified that MHS provided the environment that gave him the experience he needed to take that next step. In this case, after several years in our organization, he reached the point where he was able to win an important, high-level role in a much larger organization. 

How were we able to be so generous in spirit in saying goodbye to a key employee? We were prepared by virtue of our organizational structure. In fact, our property hasn’t missed a beat because we have developed an organizational structure that doesn’t rely on one individual, but on an entire team.

A few years ago we set out to create a structure that would allow for delegation of responsibilities so that departmental managers would have input and decision making within key areas such as marketing, budgeting, purchasing, capital improvements, etc.  Today, we also rely on the departmental managers to include their assistants and other departmental employees in the processes so that they, too, can grow in the organization and understand how all of the moving parts work together. We have also created key operational tools for our management team to use daily, weekly, monthly and annually as they plan and execute their departmental business plans. 

There is a relevant analogy to explain how this works. In many team sports, when a key player is injured or taken out of the game for any reason, you will hear the players and coaches saying “next man up.” They say this to give their fans and the rest of the organization the confidence that the team is capable of moving forward because there is a solid foundation and a good system in place that allows for the next person for that position to step forward and keep the team moving.

This is how any large organization works, and if you are a small organization such as an independent boutique hotel or resort, you can — and should — make this happen for your operation. If you do, you, too, will be in a better position to celebrate the milestone when a key player moves on. You’ll be able to offer opportunity for people in the ranks to step up to the plate. You’ll have the bench strength that provides confidence that the team is, indeed, stronger than any one individual.