Viewpoint: training your managers to manage

12 January 2018 by
Viewpoint: training your managers to manage

Hospitality management is more about emotional intelligence, personal experience and self-awareness than financial sense, says Hilary Cooke.

In a previous life, I was lucky enough to find myself as part of a team delivering an MBA programme within an entirely different industry sector. At first, I lacked confidence in trusting my skill set and the value of my previous experience in hotels, thinking, "I've only ever worked in a hotel, so what do I know?"

Then a funny thing happened. I was scooting through the entire syllabus with the rest of the well-experienced, seasoned, clever, intellectually-gifted and somewhat intimidating team, and I realised that lightbulbs were going on in my head relating to every single element of the programme. I knew a bit about marketing, I could read a P&L and simple balance sheets, I had some understanding of the business structures, I could understand the context of ethical and corporate social responsibility, I could grasp the rudiments of process engineering, manufacturing, and of retail, sales and people management. I was the only person in the room who could do that.

Everyone else could dig deep into their specialist expertise, but my experience was a wider spread and a richer mix of hard and soft skills that pretty much kissed and made up with the whole MBA syllabus and confirmed just what an amazing skill and knowledge set we are so lucky to have and the potential to develop within our industry.

So ever since that day I have developed steadfast respect for my beloved hospitality management profession even further and it has made me even more determined to bang the gong for more management development at every opportunity and at every level.

We are missing a trick if we are not shouting loudly and from every rooftop about just what a great career choice we offer at management level. As an industry, we have that opportunity. For example, in a recent poll conducted by the UK's Cabinet Office, employees were challenged to rate their overall life satisfaction, and hotel and hospitality management was up there in the top 10. It was a similar case with The Independent's Top 10 graduate careers with the best prospects for 2017.

We need to train and develop people so that they can do less and think more, nurture a professional intellect and manage themselves to achieve a life balance that is sustainable throughout their whole career and avoid the burnout at the usual pinch-points. We need to embrace the reality that being a successful manager in our game requires a deep level of knowledge and expertise together with a huge dose of realism,
emotional intelligence and self-awareness.

This is the equivalent of developing a world-class athlete and all that entails with training, coaching, understanding the competition, having a clear goal and a strong will to win. If we get it right, the rewards will be fabulous.

Dr Hilary Cooke, director, Merlin Consultancy and programme director, Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders Diploma

The next generation of hospitality leaders are being invited to apply for the opportunity to be considered for the Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders Diploma (MIALD) 2018.

For more information, visit

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