How to empower your hotel staff

James R Wilson suggests leading your team from the bottom to the top

Dusit Thani Dubai GM James R Wilson
Dusit Thani Dubai GM James R Wilson

James R Wilson, general manager, Dusit Thani Dubai, says it is better to lead your team from the bottom than from the top

We all talk about our ability as leaders to listen to our colleagues, but how many of us empower them in making the necessary decisions to lead? Since working with IIP we have invested a lot of time and training into ensuring our colleagues have the skills and abilities to make leadership decisions as, at the end of the day, they are the leaders of the future.

As leaders, we often find ourselves unable to let go of the reigns. There was a quote from Nelson Mandela in our morning briefing this week that said: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front.” This doesn’t mean we should sit back — it is about enabling our colleagues to become leaders through effective management.

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Personal development reviews and one-on-one meetings with department heads form an important role in ensuring that the right colleagues with necessary competencies are being encouraged to advance in their chosen career.

We give them the empowerment to develop their own future and through carefully structured and clear succession plans we have been able to successfully promote a number of colleagues into management posts in the past year.

Throughout the process, our colleagues are given support and guidance to ensure they are not thrown into the deep end without a lifejacket. It’s about creating a culture of learning — not blaming.

However, with greater responsibility comes greater accountability. In recent months the hotel has re-assigned its key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure that we are all accountable for performance. This runs through the ranks, not just at the top.

Each colleague and manager has been set their own targets and KPIs which they are assessed against. By taking ownership of our success, we, as a team, can reach the hotel’s objectives and goals.

This summer we are also reintroducing our Floor Up and Back to the Floor programme which will see colleagues stepping up to senior management positions and senior managers joining the ranks. Not only is this an opportunity to understand issues that can be often overlooked, we can also learn from each other and find better solutions through another’s perspective.

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