Building a hotel executive team with a purpose
Building a hotel executive team with a purpose
12 DECEMBER 2018 9:11 AM

As hospitality organizations grow and add executive talent, a key challenge is to do so in a way that adds new capabilities, as intended, supports business initiatives and sustains the group’s core beliefs.

For hospitality organizations, the challenge of growth within a complex competitive environment is a familiar one. All moving target analogies apply.

One key aspect of managing this growth is in building a coherent, talented executive team that can take on new business initiatives, while also enhancing one’s overall responsiveness with ownership, the brands, staff and our guests. But how do we accomplish this without losing the culture and passions that we trust and which have led to our success?

Thus, running a magnifying glass over an organizational chart, our competitor’s or our own, can be a misleading exercise. Is the organization too hierarchical; too constrictive—or does it lack direction? Are there too many people fighting over desks in the executive suite; or is leadership spread too thin? We can’t tell what’s happening under the hood unless we understand the strategic objectives, internal dynamics and values of the organization. The reality is that one size does not fit all.

Top-heavy or smart-heavy?
Let’s consider for starters that choice of hierarchy. In some cases, there may be strict lines of authority, with a single point of contact for dealings with another entity. For other organizations, the organizational chart may seem like there are too many positions, too many vice presidents, too many branches and so on.

However, what might seem like overcrowding might represent a distinct philosophy about lines of communication and authority to work directly, without prior approval, with ownership groups, vendors or individual disciplines within the organization. Here, the structure is purposeful, intended to create a cultural transparency, so that owners and other key entities felt connected to one’s company. A “no borders” hierarchy versus one with restricted access.

Complementary skills
Another key area of team building is finding executives who have the experience, capabilities and personal style that complement each other. For example, not everyone enjoys sitting behind a computer all day, massaging numbers. Some people are more comfortable and highly effective getting out into the field, meeting and greeting, solving practical roll-up-your-sleeves issues. Any successful organization needs a combination of these approaches and skills.

Similarly, it is not necessary to achieve symmetry in that organizational chart. Some key executives have more on their plate at a given time and need extra positions under their helm. The overall goal is adding new positions when the need becomes apparent, while also building in new functionality ahead of the curve. All of us are familiar with those project lists that seem to get longer and longer, especially as we work to incorporate new technologies into hotel operations or expand our deal-making activities.

Yes, this can be an expensive and time-consuming process for building job descriptions, the hiring process, the new person’s salary and benefits and support structure.

Recruiting inside and outside
While each group will find its own comfort level, there is value in getting ahead of the curve instead of trying to play catch-up. If the plan is to grow, one needs to staff appropriately instead of over-extending those executives already working to their maximal capabilities.

Again, it helps to strike the right balance. Combine promoting from within, rewarding a pattern of productivity and affinity with the corporate culture, with bringing in people from outside the organization, those who possess attractive skills and fresh ideas.

How do we find good people at a time when the industry is doing well, with “labor pressure” on every rung of the hospitality ladder?

  • For more on how hoteliers are coping with labor and wage pressures, click here.

It starts with networking, of course, but the real difference-maker is in promoting our own organization as we interview people. If we can’t convey the enthusiasm we have, how we strike the right balance of work and play (i.e. home life), how we reward and recognize top achievers and the great things in store for us, how can we sell the overriding message of “join us” to potential hires? Sell your company as you recruit.

Corporate culture
How we go about operating hotels and relating to others. The future we envision. At the end of the day, what’s in that organizational chart? A treasure of knowledge, if we know where and how to look.

Kerry Ranson, a 21-year veteran of the hospitality industry, is chief development officer at HP Hotels.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that might be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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