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Changing Face of the New Hotel General Manager

In the olden days, the General Manager was the friendliest face you saw when checking into a hotel. The host supreme, he was entrusted with the task of interfacing with the guests and making them feel at home. He accommodated your wishes, catered to your demands, and made troubles vanish into thin air. A competent General Manager was worth his weight in gold, and made all the difference between a good and great stay at a hotel!

Today, however, the genial General Manager is fast transforming into a power tool that takes care of various responsibilities, sometimes simultaneously. Gone are the days when he would stand in deference in the hotel lobby. This Jack-of-all-trades now has his fingers deeply and firmly embedded in not one but many pies and is adept at juggling his many roles with a quiet exterior and charming panache.

So what exactly does the new age General Manager do?

The short answer to that is ‘Almost everything!’

It’s true. From tasting food and ensuring top-notch room service to assuming a leadership role and guiding the team towards the company’s goal, the General Manager’s responsibilities are varied in nature and not restricted to any one division of the hotel.

Here’s a more detailed description of what is expected of a General Manager. In addition to overseeing day-to-day options, he’s in charge of…

  1. Building a vibrant organization
  2. Creating a distinctive work environment
  3. Establishing priorities and setting the goals of the company
  4. Spearheading innovative and strategic thinking
  5. Managing human resources and mapping their productivity
  6. Driving the team towards success by setting a personal example
  7. Maintaining the highest standards across all operations

There’s no denying that a General Manager has a lot on his plate. Each responsibility has to be executed with perfection and mistakes are not tolerated kindly in the hospitality industry. Accustomed to fighting fires every day, the General Manager goes around troubleshooting a wide range of problems without batting an eyelid. Safe to say, this job is not everyone’s cup of tea.

What characteristics are desirable in a General Manager?

The General Manager is one of the most respectable, demanding, and exacting positions in the industry. Not everybody can do justice to this role. It takes a person with considerable ingenuity to step into those shoes. Here are some of the traits you should look for in a prospective General Manager.

The Ability to Multi-task

This one makes it to the top of my list for obvious reasons. The typical workday of a General Manager is extremely complex since they are required to oversee so many things and. With equal alertness and perspicacity, they have to supervise guest relations, housekeeping, front desk, finances, F&B set up, compliance, employee evaluation, and any events that may be happening in the hotel. Unless he has excellent time management skills and organizational talents, a General Manager will never be able to rise up to the occasion and keep things together.

Professional Troubleshooting

Most people who land up at a hotel for a lazy getaway are completely oblivious of the chaos playing out behind the scenes. All they see is a haven of peace, luxury, and indulgence functioning like well-oiled machinery, while attends rush to fulfill any wish or demand they may have.

All this is possible, in large part, to the General Manager and his common sense, quick thinking, and the creative and practical solutions he comes up with for every day problems that crop up. Anything that can go wrong does go wrong, and it’s the General Manager’s decisiveness that allows him to avert disasters and keep things working like clockwork in the hotel.

Adaptability & the Desire to Learn

The hospitality sector is one of the fastest evolving sectors in the world. Technology, policies, government legislation, and local politics all contribute towards the changing of times, and it falls upon the General Manager to foresee these changes and prepare for them.

In my experience, the best General Managers are those who welcome the new. Instead of being frightened, they’re curious about the developments taking place in the industry. They’re well-informed and, despite their hectic schedule, they find a way to stay abreast of industry news and trends. By doing so, they ensure that no latest innovation gets by them. They apply their knowledge to work so that their hotel moves with the times and adapts continually.

Teaching & Mentoring

We’ve already established that a General Manager should constantly be amassing knowledge related to the industry and his position. But it’s also important that he passes on what he’s learned to his team, so that they’re equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to work efficiently and independently. Few things are more frustrating and draining for him than to micromanage all the tasks that fall in his lap. For the hotel to function optimally, the staff has to display initiative. This can only happen if they’ve been mentored properly and taught how to be resourceful and quick-witted.

Like I mentioned earlier, a good General Manager is a valuable asset to any hotel and selecting the right one is no mean task. Given the complex nature of the position, I would always recommend that you ‘grow’ your own executives. This allows you to select from within the ranks and prepare somebody who’s familiar with the working of your hotel for the managerial role.

However, that may not always be possible, and you may have to fall back on traditional ways of searching for someone competent to take over the role of a General Manager.

When doing so, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Always bring in someone who knows the business, the industry, and the people involved. Unless you’ve got a very small establishment, the General Manager will not be able to learn everything fast enough to carry out his responsibilities competently.
  • Look beyond the management training courses, seminars, or workshops the candidate may mention on his resume. In my experience, these programs tend to emphasize too much on the importance of formal quantitative tools, which, though relevant, are hardly integral to the job at hand.
  • Scan the potential candidate for the qualities we talked about earlier. They’re just as important as the qualifications and experience the prospect brings to the table.

Finally, when you find the right candidate and welcome him onboard, allow him /her at least three to six months to collect information, build a network, establish relationships, and set the direction for the team. Do not assign pet projects or specific tasks in this duration. It will be counterproductive and divert attention from his main goals of driving the team to success.

A good General Manager is integral to the smooth functioning of a hotel. He works behind the scene to offer a pleasant and hassle-free experience to guests and patrons. On his discretion stands the reputation of the hotel and on his efficiency depends all other divisions. So make sure you invest time and effort in selecting the right candidate for the job, for he’s the one who will lead the establishment to its ultimate vision.

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