3 guidelines to finding the right manager
3 guidelines to finding the right manager
14 MAY 2013 6:23 AM

Finding a great manager requires good planning, an understanding of qualifications and identifying what individual will fit into company culture.

Finding or replacing a great manager can be a challenge. It requires good planning, a total understanding of the qualifications you are seeking and identifying what individual will fit into your company culture to make a positive impact on the operation. Here are three essential questions to ensure you are making the right selection when hiring a new hotel manager:

1. Who are we looking for?
Every position should be backed by a solid job description or you won’t fill the right roles. With each vacancy, you have the opportunity to evaluate the job and tweak the responsibilities as you see fit.

First, look for an individual that has applicable experience. The nuts and bolts of a job must be answered. That said, it is also important to define the personality, skills and management style the role requires. Look at your operation to determine what you need in that leader.

If you have a large and diverse workforce in a busy urban hotel, you’ll most likely seek someone who offers flexibility in leadership. You would look for an individual with similar experiences or someone who has demonstrated managing change within an organization—a large renovation while maintaining highest occupancy and staffing perhaps.

Potential managers should prioritize what is urgent and then go back to daily routines and issues without missing a beat. The ideal manager should be quick to answer questions and have the ability to clearly direct employees.

Next, define the personal brand that fits into your hotel’s culture. Define the image you want to have representing your property and the traits that the individual must portray.

We operate our hotel with a comfortable professionalism and manner. The right candidates will match this. The care they take presenting themselves, the manner in which they speak, the etiquette they display and their communication abilities all add up to give you a sense of how they will fit in at your property.

Finally, determine the level of interest and potential the candidates reveal regarding their ability to grow in the role and advance in the company. It is important to ensure the job you offer will be right for an individual’s professional growth goals. Career progressions should make sense so the candidate has room to move up. Candidates should have their own opinion and the willingness to express it. This will translate when they bring problems to your attention that need to be addressed or procedures that could improve as they advance your property and team performance.

2. How and where do we find candidates?
Once you know who you are looking for, you can begin your search. Before you begin looking at outside sources, consider internal candidates. Building an atmosphere of opportunity inspires employees to do their best.

The human-resources department is always our first point of outreach when we need a key hire. They may have a list of potential candidates on file, or they’ll place appropriate advertisements in local and industry outlets. They have the most intimate knowledge of the work environment and job requirements and also know who they are replacing. This allows them to hand-pick top talent for the job. All of this knowledge combined with their personal rapport with the hiring manager makes communication during the selection process easier.

Executive recruiters can also be helpful in your search for a new employee. They have a larger pool of talent from which to search and the fee that is charged for their service can be worth it especially if your team needs a leader and you’ve exhausted your internal resources.

Should you need to hire outside of your team, determine if it’s important to hire locally or from outside of your area. If you are looking outside the area, determine your ability and willingness to pay for relocation. This decision could potentially determine the geographic boundaries in which you search. In Chicago, we are fortunate to have numerous hotels and many different brands, sizes and personalities of hotels so there is a large pool of talent that might be ready for a move.

There are benefits to both local and outside candidates. A local candidate may have experience with local unions and up-to-date knowledge of current regulations. The individual most likely has wider city knowledge and deeper insights regarding competing locations. On the other hand, a non-local candidate could offer experience you might not necessarily find locally.

 If you do consider candidates from out of your area, allow time for them to explore your destination, so they will feel confident that this is the right job for them.
While some may hesitate to consider a person who is not currently employed, I believe you should review all prospects. Candidates who have a proven track record, a healthy professional history and can show understandable circumstances for being unemployed, shouldn’t be overlooked. Remember, you could be passing up a great candidate and a perfect hire simply because they are out of a job.

3. How can we retain good managers?
As a leader, you have the responsibility to act as a mentor and motivator to help your employees ready themselves for their next career move, which could mean they’ll leave your company for promotions not available in your own organization and that’s OK. I support any decisions my employees make in their career progression even if that means leaving.

Retaining good workers comes from a combination of influencers, including their personal and professional motivations, their ability to interact with several bosses above them, the environment in which they work, as well as compensation.

Managers should always have a purpose and feel confident they are equipped to handle their position. They need to know that their role is important to the hotel’s success. As that individual’s manager, you need to be supportive of them and their choices. Having a transparent communicative relationship opens the door for your employees to feel comfortable offering changes and improvements without being held back. Ensure that the position you offer matches the individual’s personal goals. If he or she wants big opportunity and fast advancement, your property should offer these possibilities or you will soon find yourself seeking another new manager.

In regards to a compensation package, this varies widely based on your location and your property. As an employer, you should know the mean average salary and benefits required to compensate properly. If you’re in a highly competitive market, be prepared to raise the bar on your compensation packages to retain the top talent.

While looking for a new manager you should be constantly asking yourself, “Is this the best fit for the position we are filling?” “Do we offer an environment that also fits this person’s personality, style and ambition?” At the end of the day, you should hire someone who is qualified and confident, someone with strong interpersonal skills who is willing to learn and grow with you.

For over 20 years, Birgit Radin has focused her energy and talents on leading quality-oriented hospitality teams with the goal of creating employee engagement, memorable customer experiences, and maximizing profit for shareholders and/or owners. As a member of the Kokua Hospitality, LLC management organization team, she serves as the managing director for two properties in Chicago, and the Inn of Chicago. Her hotel operations expertise and proven leadership skills are applied daily, and she will share her experiences in a series of columns offering quick tips and guidelines to address management and customer service training challenges. Radin earned a certified hotel business and management degree from the Hotel Business and Management School in Villingen, Germany, and has since worked in key management roles on three continents, led several transition teams throughout her career, and managed hundreds of millions of dollars in renovation and repositioning projects along that path. Reach her at bradin@doubletreemagmile.com. To learn more about Kokua Hospitality, LLC, visit www.kokuahospitality.com.

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