It benefits everyone to cultivate an atmosphere of civility, decorum, and mutual respect in the workplace. In the hospitality industry, the cachet and atmosphere of a property or facility can only be maintained through the concerted efforts of the entire staff. Even one dysfunctional relationship between a staff member and a manager can throw a monkey wrench into the finely-tuned engine of team dynamics that must function smoothly to drive top-quality service.
Tension between employees and managers seems to be a constant in most workplaces. Against the high-stress backdrop of constant activity that defines many hospitality-industry work environments, though, conflict between managers and personnel is sometimes particularly intense.
You can't be all things to all people, but in an industry constantly battling high rates of turnover, it may benefit your bottom line to consider employee feedback and adjust some components of your managerial style accordingly. We'll look at the criticism and praise hospitality industry workers have for their bosses.
Ah, the elusive perfect boss. We all have our own ideas about what a fantasy manager would be like, and these notions tend to vary based on our personalities, past experiences, attitudes, and outlooks on life. Because managerial responsibilities vary so much in different industries, it is virtually impossible to determine objectively which one set of skills and attributes comes closest to perfection.
Recent surveys of the hospitality industry workforce indicate that trusting managers who allow employees the latitude to make independent decisions are the most highly regarded. Bosses skilled in teambuilding and promoting solidarity are also popular among hospitality industry employees. Rounding out the most popular personality traits for hospitality industry managers are honesty and integrity.
Research shows that hospitality industry workers harbor a wide array of very strong opinions about which qualities they most dislike in managers. Interestingly, in comparison to the fairly broad consensus about employees' favorite managerial traits, there is less overriding agreement about which qualities define a bad hospitality industry boss. Frequently, far more negative traits than positive traits are identified in survey questions addressing this subject.
The most frequently cited complaint that hospitality industry workers harbor against their bosses is a lack of leadership skills. This somewhat open-ended complaint was voiced by over 40% of employees in a recent survey of foodservice workers.
Arrogance is another common complaint that workers direct toward their managers. This claim is often paired with the complaint that bosses lack the ability or willingness to communicate effectively. Bosses who employees perceive as unsympathetic, uncaring, unfair, or just generally "mean" are also a frequent target of criticism. Finally, the complaint that some managers try to hard to be friends with their employees is also commonly cited in industry surveys.
As indicated by the somewhat contradictory nature of some of these survey results, hospitality industry workers have a fairly narrow perception of what constitutes an ideal boss. They want you to be trusting and allow some independence and decision-making power, but not so much that they begin to perceive you as being lazy or overly reliant on them. They want you to promote harmony and unity among team members, but also to act with fairness, recognizing excellence and punishing laxness. They want you to be nice, but not so nice that you begin to blur the boundaries between personal and professional relationships.
Confusing, huh? Well, maybe a little -- but in reality, if you look a little closer, these guidelines actually provide managers with a fairly well-defined set of best practices to adhere to in forming and maintaining positive relationships with workers. Basically, your employees prefer it if you don't display either too much or too little of any attribute or personality trait. The perfect boss, then, is one who can find a path of compromise between too mean and too nice, too involved and too distant, too smart and too dumb. If you're looking for a path that will improve your relationships with team members, the middle way may be the right way.
- Suzanne, a 15-year veteran of the foodservice industry: "Being a good boss is a lot like being a good parent-- sometimes we need discipline, sometimes we need compassion, and sometimes we just want money. Most of the time, we simply need to know you're behind us if we need help."
- Bill, a foodservice supervisor: The perfect boss is "somebody who not only listens, but hears. It is a subtle distinction but absolutely priceless in a manager."
- Steve, a hospitality industry manager who worked his way up through the ranks: "The 'perfect boss' is neither friend nor foe, but a boss."