Ah yes, the hotel general manager. If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel, you will have seen this elusive creature floating around. You’ve seen them at the check in desk being called on for support and assistance. You’ve seen them at the center of conversations with hotel staff. You’ve been greeted warmly by them and you’ve been checked on by them at breakfast that morning. They seem to always be everywhere at once, mind on a mission, composed, always approachable and willing to lend a helping hand. This is your hotel’s general manager.
A hotel general is busy, to say in the least. They handle anything from managing the staff team to overseeing revenue, marketing, operations, sales, and finance. They are not only on the front lines, ensuring a seamless client experience but also manage all the things you don’t see as a guest on the back end. They are blessed with the ability to de-compartmentalize and effectively manage many moving parts within an organization.
It’s a no brainer that a general manager at a hotel is no entry-level position. When looking for a general manager, experience is half the game. There are several traits and soft skills to look for when hiring a general manager. These characteristics are especially essential in today’s age because of the rapidly evolving landscape of hospitality.
7 Traits to look for in a General Manager for your Hotel
As a general manager, your bottom line is profit. The focus and impact of all the departments involved trickle down to that bottom-line. A general manager is an entrepreneur in many ways. You’re a jack of all trades and you set high expectations for your team. They are passionate leaders that take calculated risks and are accountable for their decisions and actions of their team. They know what’s happening in the market, region, competition. They set goals and strategies for their hotel and are responsible for their respective teams to achieve them. They do not react emotionally, but instead with logic and reason.
General managers use data and facts as a basis of their decision making. They triangulate their facts from their observations, feedback from their team, and reports to make informed judgements in their hotels that influence the departments they oversee. They understand the numbers, how they were calculated and where they come from. They forecast based on patterns and trends and are open to their team’s input when making big decisions.
With the rapidly changing environment of hospitality, a successful general manager is able to be flexible and open to learning new skills to keep up and come out on top. Especially with technology revolutionizing the industry, general managers that get stuck in their ways and unable to adopt new ways of doing business will see a decline in revenue in the long-term. A successful general manager may not have the skills required for unexpected changes and trends in hospitality, but they are willing to acquire them. The industry is changing, client expectations are evolving and your general manager should be able to keep up.
4. They can leverage their people
Just because general manager’s are able to do everything, doesn’t mean that they should. We’ve all had that manager that was all “don’t worry, I’ll just do it”, but being great at everything doesn’t mean you’re a great manager. Successful general manager’s are able to leverage and delegate to their teams to make sure all the moving parts in their hotel are moving in sync. Yes, they may oversee those moving parts, but it doesn’t mean that they are executing. Successful managers coach their employees to be able to execute and manage their performance to continuously develop their team. They empower their employees by relinquishing control and trust that they’ve given their team enough tools to succeed. If they don’t succeed, they go back and work with their team until they’ve achieved the desired result.
Great general managers say what they’re going to do and do what they say. They build their credibility by rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty. Instead of telling their team to do something, they show them first. Becoming a general manager wasn’t by luck, this takes years of experience in the industry and is hard work day-in and day-out. Your team understands this and effective general managers lead with integrity. They were once that front-desk agent working overtime on a holiday and as a general manager, you are able to empathize and your team is behind you because of that.
6. Can inspire change and motivation in their people
A general manager is the center point of contact for many staff in a hotel’s organization. They are the epitome of leadership and are responsible to coach and mentor staff in their respective roles. More often than not, inspiring change or motivating staff isn’t as simple as simply telling them the change you want to see and expecting to see results. A successful general manager leads by example and showcases the change they want to inspire in their teams. They have high emotional intelligence and are able to communicate effectively with their staff in the way each individual is receptive to communication.
With the competitive landscape of hospitality, your general manager isn’t afraid of trying new things and getting creative to see results. They’re not comfortable with being comfortable and always seeking better results. Ultimately, that’s what people would pay a premium for: your hotel is doing something that the others aren’t.
These soft skills and characteristics can’t be picked up in just one meeting or be seen on their resume. It is essential to ask probing, open-ended questions and have important stakeholders of your organization present during their interview process. References are also a must to validate everything that they say they can do. If you get this hire right, they will become the center pillar for your hotel and can really make or break your hotel’s success.