GMs say millennial hotel staff pose challenges

Improved communication, feedback and room for creativity are key to making most of young talent

The general managers debated key topics to set the agenda for Hotelier Middle East's Great GM Debate.
The general managers debated key topics to set the agenda for Hotelier Middle East's Great GM Debate.

General managers at Hotelier Middle East’s GM Roundtable, reported that they face challenges when dealing with millennial colleagues in the hotel industry.

One issue raised was that supervisors are being disrespected by upcoming confident, demanding line staff in their early 20s to early 30s.

Rick Zeolla, consulting general manager at Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, an Autograph Collection Hotel said: “[Millennials] have a different work ethic… there’s a squeeze going on there at the moment between your senior supervisors, your lower level managers. I think they’re being disrespected by the new generation coming in.”

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Another challenge voiced by Vida & Manzil Downtown Dubai GM Stefan Viard, is that millennials trying to be creative in their roles can take it too far.

“They think completely differently and you’ll find yourself in a situation where you ask ‘did you really think that was a good idea?’” he said.

Two-way communication, plenty of feedback, and room for creativity are things to be taken into account when managing millennial staff said Simone Milasas, an HR expert and author of Joy of Business.

“Ask [millennials] what they want and what change would they bring about; sometimes, they only want to be heard and acknowledged.”

Alexander Schneider, general manager of Rixos, The Palm Dubai agreed that communication is key.

“It starts with the communication, you can’t just take the hierarchical sledgehammer, and you need to engage them properly. You can’t just spoon feed them anymore; they expect to create the training in the training so that communication has changed really.”

Despite these challenges, the GMs said that millennial staff can be very helpful when it comes to new ideas and service styles, particularly in lifestyle and boutique properties.

“Generation Y are much more prone to go into a start-up scenario, where they can move within much broader boundaries than a company that has clear brand guidelines and SOPs,” said Viard.

“I am often amazed by the quality of ideas we get. Sometimes, they’re completely off the Richter scale and you can think about them in the next century. You need to start your cherry picking process.”

Milasas agreed that it is up to general managers to harness the good ideas and knowledge of millennial staff, and combine this with their own knowledge and experience.

“I always say is that if something doesn’t quiet feel good and there is a bit of funky energy about it, there is always more information that is required.

“So what questions are we not asking, that if we did, could change everything?” she said.

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