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Supervision in the Hospitality Industry
By Jack E. Miller John R. Walker Karen Eich Drummond
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-471-39689-3
Chapter OneThe Supervisor as Leader
You and Your People The Nature of Leadership Choosing a Leadership Style
The idea that a supervisor must be a leader comes as a surprise to people who have never thought about it before. The term leader is likely to be associated with politics or religious movements or guerrilla-warfare situations in which people voluntarily become followers of the person who achieves command. Although it is not necessarily true, it is generally assumed that the one who is followed is a "born leader" whose influence is based at least partly on charisma or personal magnetism.
In a work situation, the supervisor is in command by virtue of being placed there by the company and its superiors. In the hospitality industry the term supervisor refers to a manager at a lower organizational level who supervises entry-level or other employees who themselves do not have supervisory responsibilities. The workers are expected to do what the boss tells them to do-that's just part of the job, right?
But if employees simply do what they are told, why is labor turnover so high, productivity so low, and absenteeism so prevalent? Why is there conflict between labor and management? The truth of the matter is that the boss is in charge of the workers, but that does not guarantee that the workers will put allof their efforts into the job. This is where leadership comes in.
In this chapter we explore the kinds of interactions between a supervisor and his workers that relate to the building of leadership in work situations. It will help you to:
* Identify typical hourly jobs in foodservice and lodging establishments.
* Outline the demographics of the labor pool typically hired for hourly jobs in the hospitality industry.
* Explain the concept of leadership on the job.
* Compare and contrast the concepts of formal authority and real authority.
* Describe and give examples of four leadership styles-autocratic, bureaucratic, democratic, and laissez-faire.
* Compare and contrast Theory X and Theory Y management styles.
You and Your People
More than one out of every eight Americans now working have worked in a McDonald's since the first one opened over 40 years ago in California. It seems an incredible statistic, but keep in mind that 8 percent of American employees work in foodservice, and many young people find their first job in foodservice or a hotel. You may already have worked in a hospitality operation yourself.
The hospitality industry is composed of 70 percent part-time, short-term people. They are "only working here until"-until they get out of high school, until they get out of college, until they have enough money to buy a car, or until an opening comes up someplace else. It is not uncommon to hear a young hourly employee say, "I'll keep this job until I can get a real job," for what they often mean is that they plan to switch from an hourly to a salaried position.
The Jobs and the Workers
Hotels and restaurants are dependent on large numbers of people to fill low-wage entry-level jobs that have little interest and no perceived future. Washing pots, busing tables, dishing out the same food every day from the same steam table, lifting heavy bags, mopping dirty floors, cleaning rest rooms, straightening up messy rooms left by unheeding customers every single day can become very tiresome. Workers take these jobs either because no special skill, ability, or experience is required, or because nothing else is available.
Some of these people consider the work demeaning. Even though they are doing demanding work that is absolutely essential to the operation, management often looks down on them. They are frequently taken for granted, ignored, or spoken to only when reprimanded. Given the nature of the work and the attitudes of management and sometimes of other workers, it is no wonder that turnover is high.
Another level of hourly worker is the skilled or semiskilled: the front desk clerk, the cashier, the bartender, the cook, the waiter and waitress. These jobs are more appealing, the money is better, and there is sometimes a chance for advancement. Yet here, too, you often find temporary workers-students, moonlighters, people who cannot find anything in their own fields-people working there until.
Many employers assume that their employee will not stay long, and most of them do not. According to a National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Industry Operations Report, the turnover rate for hourly workers in full-service operations is 100 percent. That means that your typical full-service restaurant will lose every one of its hourly employees during one year and have to fill every position. (A study by the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association asked 857 ex-foodservice workers to explain why they left their jobs. The most frequently cited reasons were more money, a better work schedule, and more enjoyable work.)
There is really no valid stereotype of today's hospitality worker. The industry employs people of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, an already diverse workplace is becoming more diverse than ever. This is due in part to the fact that new workers entering the workforce are overwhelmingly non-Caucasian ethnic minorities, immigrants, and women.
Approximately half of the foodservice workforce, as well as a big presence in hotels, are employees from 18 to 34 years old, a group referred to as Generation X. X'ers will work hard, but they will also make certain demands. They want to do work that they consider worthwhile as well as work they enjoy doing. The employees want their supervisors to let them be more involved by listening to them and by allowing them to participate in decision making. Not surprisingly, employees do not want supervisors to bark orders in a militant fashion, they want training and expect management to invest time and money in their training and development.
At least 50 percent of both foodservice and hotel workers are women. There are more women working now than ever before and they are not necessarily satisfied with traditional women's jobs. There are many female bartenders, cooks, and chefs, as well as many other management positions now filled by women.
The fastest-growing ethnic groups in the United States are Hispanics, people of Asian origin, and African-Americans, so it is not surprising to see many of these people in hospitality jobs. Did you know that Hispanics have been the biggest minority in foodservice since 1993? Did you also know that one out of six foodservice workers speaks a language other than English at home? We discuss diversity of the hospitality workforce in more detail in Chapter 3.
As we noted in Chapter 1, many of today's workers tend to have a higher expectation level and a lower frustration tolerance than workers of past generations. They expect more out of a job than just a paycheck. Most are not tied by need to jobs they don't like; in good times, hospitality jobs are usually plentiful, and unemployment insurance tides workers over during a move from one job to another. Availability of jobs, of course, varies with economic conditions and from one area to another. But even needing that paycheck does not guarantee that a person will work well on the job. That is why it is necessary to have supervisors and managers.
The Nature of Leadership
You are going to be a leader. Now, you may wonder, "What is a leader, and how is it any different from being a manager?" These are good questions. As a part of the management staff, one is expected to produce goods and services by working with people and using resources such as equipment and employees. That is what being a manager or supervisor is all about. As discussed in Chapter 1, an important managerial function is to be a leader. A leader can be defined as someone who guides or influences the actions of his or her employees to reach certain goals. A leader is a person whom people follow voluntarily. What you, as a supervisor, must do is to direct the work of your people in a way that causes them to do it voluntarily. You don't have to be a born leader, you don't have to be magnetic or charismatic; you have to get people to work for you willingly and to the best of their ability. That is what leadership is all about.
Although it is true that many leadership skills are innate and that not all managers make great leaders, it is also true that most managers will benefit from leadership training. Moreover, natural leaders will flourish in an environment that supports their growth and development. Therefore, activities surrounding leadership development are worth the time and expense. Traditional characteristics of leadership development are:
1. We spend millions of dollars teaching managers technical skill and administrative functions.
2. Managers' "numbers" are the primary benchmark for evaluating their successes and failures.
3. Management training programs are more focused on short-term skills than on long-term development processes.
You need to break out of this limited training "box" if you want to develop leaders who can help your businesses grow. There are seven steps to establishing a foundation for leadership development:
1. Commit to investing the time, resources, and money needed to create a culture that supports leadership development.
2. Identify and communicate the differences between management skills and leadership abilities within the organization.
3. Develop quantifiable measurables that support leadership skills. These include percentage of retention, percentage of promotables, and percentage of cross-trained team members.
4. Make leadership skills a focus of management training. These include communication skills (written, verbal, nonverbal, and listening), team-building skills (teamwork, coaching, and feedback), proactive planning skills (transitioning from managing shifts to managing businesses), and interpersonal skills (motivation, delegation, decision making, and problem solving).
5. Implement ongoing programs that focus on leadership skills, such as managing multiple priorities, creating change, and presentation skills.
6. Know that in the right culture, leaders can be found at entry level.
7. Recognize, reward, and celebrate leaders for their passion, dedication, and results.
In theory, you have authority over your people because you have formal authority, or the right to command, given to you by the organization. You are the boss and you have the power, the ability to command. You control the hiring, firing, raises, rewards, discipline, and punishment. In all reality, your authority is anything but absolute. Real authority is conferred on your subordinates, and you have to earn the right to lead them. It is possible for you to be the formal leader of your work group as well as have someone else who is the informal leader actually calling the shots.
The relationship between you and your people is a fluid one, subject to many subtle currents and cross-currents between them and you. If they do not willingly accept your authority, they have many ways of withholding success. They can stay home from work, come in late, drag out the work into overtime, produce inferior products, drive your customers away with rudeness and poor service, break the rules, refuse to do what you tell them to, create crises, and punish you by walking off the job and leaving you in the lurch. Laying down the law, the typical method of control in hospitality operations, does not necessarily maintain authority; on the contrary, it usually creates a negative, nonproductive environment.
What it all adds up to is that your job as a supervisor is to direct and oversee a group of transients who are often untrained, all of who are different from each other, and many of whom would rather be working somewhere else. You are dependent on them to do the work for which you are responsible. You will succeed only to the degree that they permit you to succeed. It is your job to get the workers to do their best for the enterprise, for the customers, and for you. How can one do this?
As a distinguished leadership expert noted, "managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people who do the right things." Think about that for a moment. In other words, managers are involved in being efficient and in mastering routines, whereas leaders are involved in being effective and turning goals into reality. As a supervisor and leader, your job is to do the right things right, to be both efficient and effective. An effective supervisor in the hospitality industry is one whom, first, knows and understands basic principles of management, and second, applies them to managing all the resource operations.
In the hospitality industry we use a technique referred to as MBWA, management by wandering around, spending a significant part of your day talking to your employees, your guests, and your peers. As you are walking around and talking to these various people, you should be performing three vital roles discussed in this book: listening, coaching, and troubleshooting.
Check Your Knowledge
1. What is a leader?
2. What is the difference between formal and informal authority?
Choosing a Leadership Style
The term leadership style refers to your pattern of interacting with your subordinates: how you direct and control the work of others, and how you get them to produce the goods and services for which you are responsible. It includes not only your manner of giving instructions, but the methods and techniques you use to motivate your workers and to assure that your instructions are carried out.
There are several different forms of leadership style: autocratic, bureaucratic, democratic, and laissez-faire being the most popular styles today. Before choosing a style of leadership, one must identify the pros and cons of each and then decide if it will be the most effective style in the hospitality industry.
Autocratic leadership style can be identified with the early, classical approach to management. A supervisor practicing an autocratic style is likely to make decisions without input from staff, to give orders without explanation or defense, and to expect the orders to be obeyed. When this style of leadership is used, employees become dependent on supervisors for instructions. The wants and needs of the employees come second to those of the organization and the supervisor.
In bureaucratic leadership style, a supervisor manages "by the book." The leader relies on the property's rules, regulations, and procedures for decisions that he makes.
Excerpted from Supervision in the Hospitality Industry by Jack E. Miller John R. Walker Karen Eich Drummond Excerpted by permission.
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