After starting his role as general manager of the Sofitel London Gatwick hotel, Globy Ouseph made it his mission to go for coffee with every member of staff. One month and 254 cups of coffee later, he talks to Katherine Price about his caffeinated mission to get to know everyone he manages
Why did you have to drink 254 cups of coffee in a month?
Sometimes general managers can fail to connect with employees. I wanted to put cross what I want to achieve and what we as a team can achieve, because the staff had no idea who I was at the start. But I didn't want it to be in my office, I wanted to make them comfortable, and I thought coffee was the best way to break the ice.
How long did it take you to meet everyone?
I started here mid-August and I finished by the end of September. It took about 22 hours overall. In a month, 22 hours is nothing if I'm going to hold the fort as a GM.
How do you feel that benefitted you in your new role?
What was most important for me was finding out how can I help them or if they had any ideas about the hotel and they have come up with so many things. I didn't just want a meeting exercise, I wanted it to be useful for them, so that they remember me and I remember them. Now I know their hobbies and nationalities
What suggestions did your staff make?
The hotel has been here for 26 years and one member of staff has been here for 20 years - he has more experience than my entire experience of the hotel industry. He said it would be nice to know the business 14 days ahead, so I created an operations sheet to give them a snapshot of the hotel.
It has detailed information, such as the occupancy, the number of people in the hotel and the large events in the next 14 days. Now staff can plan their life more easily, because they know how busy the hotel is going to be.
Our hotel is connected with the airport via a tunnel, and one of the guys pointed out that we needed to get it cleaned, so I'm going to get that cleaned.
There was a printer that was too far away from staff and was causing an average of a 30-second delay to check-in, so we've now got a new printer closer to the reception desk. All these ideas have come from them.
You've also created a giant WhatsApp group for all the hotel staff - does that not send your phone into overdrive?
There are 180 people in the Whats-App group. People post great comments from TripAdvisor and letters from guests. They feel proud of it, and it actually makes a difference to the person whose name is mentioned. I feel like it's the pulse of the hotel - everyone knows what's happening.
How does this improve your customer experience?
Our customers know more about the hotel than probably our team members, because they read the reviews and they see the problems. I think our team members need to be one step ahead to provide that luxury service. The more
ahead of the game we are, the better it is. And now I think things are moving in the right direction.
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