The Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile, one of the properties I manage for Kokua Hospitality, LLC, was recently honored when three of our employees earned a prestigious Spirit of CARE award from Hilton Worldwide. Without a strong belief in employee empowerment and clearly defined steps to help guide self-direction, our customers might not have experienced the successful on-the-spot solution provided by the three empowered employees. I believe firmly in encouraging employees to take initiative, to responsibly provide solutions that answer guest challenges, and to do what’s necessary to ensure guest satisfaction.
Below, please find five key points to consider when reviewing your own hotel’s empowerment initiatives.
1. Do your employees easily take responsibility?
Not all employees want to make a decision. They would rather let a co-worker or manager handle all issues, fearing making the wrong decision could come back to haunt them. In order to encourage these hesitant employees to take steps forward, it is important to ensure decisions are not punished. It is also important to ask those employees what they think. Once they feel comfortable being part of the solution by offering suggestions that are not dismissed, they’ll feel ready to take charge.
2. Do you clearly communicate why empowered employee actions are so important?
Communication is key! Make sure everyone understands the big picture and knows the reason for specific needs and actions that affect the guest’s experience. If someone only gets information on a need-to-know basis and does not understand the bigger picture, you eliminate the possibility of creating new ideas and new solutions. If that feeling pervades the work environment, it prevents people from feeling included.
3. Do you use real-life examples of empowerment as training tools?
Much can be learned from reviewing decisions made by an employee who provided a guest solution. Good examples provide real-life case studies to share as educational tools. Examples of actions that could have been improved provide a great opportunity to bring the employee and a group of peers together to discuss other options that could have been taken to achieve the same result. Not all departments can apply a blanket policy of empowerment, so being able and willing to customize training by departments gives employees a stronger sense of best practices.
4. Do you restrict your employees’ power to make decisions?
Empowering employees is all about making a challenging situation for a guest or client better. You cannot limit actions with restrictions and expect to get the same results. Obviously confidence and training is required, but ultimately employees want to be part of a success story. If you give them the room and guidelines to make quick decisions, a customer’s dissatisfaction can turn into an exceptional experience.
5. Do your employees feel like they are a real part of the entire organization?
If not, a management philosophy enhanced by employee empowerment will be difficult to implement. Understand employees need to feel they are integral to the success of the overall business. By giving them the freedom and comfort of knowing they can contribute by action or suggestion, you help build a culture that reflects today’s workplace needs.
As a member of the Kokua Hospitality, LLC’s management organization team, Birgit Radin serves as the managing director for two properties in Chicago, The Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile and the Inn of Chicago. Reach her at email@example.com. To learn more about Kokua Hospitality, LLC, visit www.kokuahospitality.com.
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