We mostly know General George C. Marshall from the Marshall Plan which helped to rebuild Europe following World War II. But what accelerated him to the top of command was his incredible organizational skills, and that’s where hoteliers can learn a thing or two in today’s labor-scarce climate.
Specifically, many organizations have instilled a culture where every project and every initiative have to be reviewed by a complex chain of executives or several tiers of management before execution. This not only bogs down the time of all the already overworked team members, but it slows down the ‘operational tempo’ in terms of being able to rapidly pivot in the face of new information.
This lag is often felt through what we call ‘meeting paralysis’ whereby hotels have too many meetings and too many meeting attendees. Oftentimes, two people hashing out a problem and devising solutions can get more done than a team of seven or eight where everyone on the video call can’t really express what’s on their mind.
General Marshall solved this time-related problem through effective compartmentalization of information as it moved up and down the chain. A senior executive shouldn’t need to oversee every aspect of a direct report’s tasks, merely state the broader objective then allow for laissez faire to take the reins. Similarly, the direct report shouldn’t have to involve their supervisor in every discussion and should be empowered enough to summarize events and next steps in a one-page document so that a signoff can be more rapidly attained. Keep it simple in order to get it done.
What we’re seeing on the ground with our asset management assignments is that many properties have adjusted to the pandemic by flattening their organizational structures. This has had the result of saving on labor, but a drawback is that senior executives or the GM are often bouncing from meeting to meeting while leaving critical decisions on the table and clogging up the operational tempo. As such, we advocate a system of empowerment whereby teams need some bandwidth to execute on their own so as to not slow down the speed of implementation.
This brings to light another aspect of asset management, namely the conflicting roles and politics at the top. Hotels need a clear chain of command at the executive committee so that every manager knows what’s specifically in their turf to get off the ground. This in turn also works to limit the number of meetings and also shorten each meeting’s length because every manager knows what solutions they need to bring to the table in advance of any call, rather than only bring problems and questions.
With budget season upon us, it’s time to think not just in terms of revenue projections, but also how best to maximize manager productivity. For this, a review of General Marshall’s career may be the inspiration you need heading into 2022.