When it comes to recruiting a general manager for a hotel, it goes without saying that finding the right person is essential. Nicholas Northam explains how hotels can often find that person by looking closer to home
General managers have many proverbial ‘plates to spin’. Depending on the hotel they operate, their role could involve anything from managing employees and guest queries through to working with the hotel’s ownership and reporting on the financial performance of the property they are responsible for running.
Finding the right person, however, can sometimes be a struggle.
General managers have to be commercially minded in order to do their job well. After all, they are running a significant business and often gaining enough relevant experience in that area, before reaching GM level, can be tough.
But what our industry doesn’t lack is people with ambition. The hospitality industry is renowned for its hardworking employees and there are plenty of candidates out there who have the drive to reach GM level, but are unsure of the right path to take.
We often see operations managers, finance managers and even head chefs coming forward for GM openings but, as fantastic as they may be at running their own areas within a hotel, many simply don’t have the broader skills to run the property and the team as a whole.
That’s why our industry needs to work harder to put in place training and development programmes that harness the ambition that already exists within our teams, and nurture it – especially with all of the challenges that exist in today’s world and the uncertainty of Brexit just around the corner.
Hotels should proactively talk to their departmental heads and team members about their ambitions and then put in place opportunities to help them progress.
For example, shadowing a GM for a day can provide a fascinating insight into the varied role and all it encompasses. Equally, trusting ambitious team members to perhaps take on smaller elements of the GM’s responsibilities can upskill that team member fast.
Not only does this approach help develop a stream of well-skilled candidates who can fill future openings, as well as cover GM holiday and sick leave, it also helps boost morale and makes for a more attractive workplace – at a time when our industry is struggling to attract staff.
We ourselves have developed an intensive one-year training programme to give
those with the desire to progress the chance to get real-world experience of what it’s like to work as a GM. We are already reaping the rewards of the programme, and I would like to see more organisations within our sector doing the same.
By making the time and effort to proactively upskill the next generation of hotel management, we can develop a pool of talented prospective GMs that know and understand their roles before they’ve even stepped into position – and that can only be a good thing for our industry’s future.
So, today, why not go and talk to your team about their career hopes and goals?
Their ambitions may just surprise you and could help build a more successful, sustainable business in the long run.
Nicholas Northam is managing director for the UK at Interstate Hotels & Resorts.