Take your manager to work day

“Take your kid to work” day has become a fixture, and I believe the concept can easily be transplanted to a hotel environment. It’s already common for CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in industries like fast food and retail to try their luck at being a frontline staffer for a day or a week. Why not try this in the hotel industry?

The primary goals of this exercise are clear enough: see firsthand how team members interact with consumers to develop better means of communication; ask consumers directly how they feel about the product; observe the daily grind of such employees so strategies can be implemented to raise morale; and broadly examine how operations can be improved. In other words, it’s all about empathy.

For senior managers, time is fleeting. It’s hard to find a spare moment to learn about anything more than surface details from colleagues in other departments, let alone their immediate subordinates. Every facet of hotel operations has its procedures, its troubles, its relationship funnels and its nuances. These cannot be properly learned by reading a textbook or making general inquiries at executive planning committee meetings.

We learn best by doing. For example, the director of sales and marketing (my core background area) is likely a person who has risen through the ranks of one of those two departments. By the time senior manager status is achieved, he or she has a tacit imprint of how these areas of operations work because they have gone through the motions — victories, failures and umpteen hours in between — to hardwire that knowledge in their brain mechanics.

So, would such a DoM benefit from working under the revenue manager for a day or two to witness firsthand how sales channels are managed minute-by-minute using complex distribution software and a heavy dose of accounting wit? You bet. Vice versa, RMs, with their frantic stock market-paced command of room allocations, will gain from shadowing the DoM for a non-negligible breadth of time, helping them see “the big picture” and how to think long term. Ditto for front desk and reservations.

I suppose the apt term is cross-knowledge. To continue with the abovementioned example, marketing geeks acting independently of the revenue management department will not be wholly conscious of how their newly proposed “super discount” might affect room rates across various channels. But, by garnering a touch of empathy for other spokes on the wheel, each manager will be better attuned to the needs of those teams, making for better results all around.

Just a quick note: this is not a full-on manager swap; proceed with one manager at a time. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if all directors embarked on their day of departmental re-education at the same time?