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Contingency management is the most prevalent of all management concepts for the simple reason that it provides the necessary flexibility to develop strategies which pertain to each individual organisation. Adopting a flexible management style allows an organisation to be more adaptable to changes in both the micro (internal) and macro (external) environments.

Leicester Marriott has adopted a form of contingency management which revolves around the human relations approach, whereby past studies have shown that certain variables are instrumental to employee satisfaction. Marriott gives tremendous importance to its associates, as they ultimately are the reason why the brand has been successful for so many years. Associate opinions are highly valued by members of management, so they are often required to attend brainstorming sessions where key issues are discussed. Such involvement should make way for improved productivity and efficiency, as having an input in the decisions taken in ones department is fundamental to happiness at work, which may also have a positive effect on other aspects of associate life. Members of management know that to maximise profitability, employees must be awarded a level of responsibility within the organisation, and most importantly, be respected and treated as integral members of the organisation.

The five-star Grand Hotel Excelsior (GHE) in Malta is not owned or run by any hotel chain, but is privately owned by a British family. It started operations approximately four years ago, and has since risen to become one of the best hotels on the island, troubling the likes of Hilton, Westin and Le Meridien which dominate the luxury accommodation Market in Malta. The Excelsior is affiliated with the Iprefer group, which offers subscribed members numerous benefits such as special discounts and offers for Iprefer hotels throughout the world.

At the Excelsior, divisions between upper management and their subordinates are generally noticeable, a trait which is reminiscent of bureaucratic management. However, utmost respect and gratitude is shown to employees when tasks are carried out successfully, and the general manager often stresses the fact that the hotel’s success is owed to its employees.

Unlike Marriott’s tried and tested approach to management, the Excelsior’s directors and managers had to devise a management style which fit the organisation’s requirements. In doing so, training has been given top priority and is carried out by in-house specialists, as well as by some of Malta’s leading consultation companies. Through personal experience, soft management is very much present within the rooms division as managers are aware that adopting hard management will not be beneficial. The employment of hard management may make employees fear their superiors, to the extent that absenteeism may increase, and employees may seek job opportunities elsewhere. However, this does not mean that managers should not, when necessary, show authority.

Task 2 – Using an organisation where you have worked evaluate the role and function of at least one manager. Compare and contrast the leadership style of your chosen organisation with one of the leaders in the case study.

At the Grand Hotel Excelsior, Front office employees are the first to interact with guests, and must therefore project the hotel’s image of luxury and professionalism by being well groomed, well mannered, professional, and hospitable. The lobby’s classic décor and warm lighting ensure that guests feel welcome and relaxed, particularly after hours of travel. Upon arrival, guests are greeted and assisted by the porter, and are then directed towards the front desk where they are offered a complimentary welcome drink, after which the check-in process begins.

The front office manager manages all front of house operations to ensure that guests are offered an ‘Iprefer experience’. The roles and functions pertaining to this position are vast and crucial to the establishment’s success. The primary role of the front office manager is to develop and retain professional relationships with guests and non-guests, with the aim of having them return time and time again. However, he is aware that the only way to provide a seamless guest experience is to ensure that his team is, first and foremost, treated respectfully.

Front of house operations pertaining to the front office manager include but are not limited to; reviewing the hotel’s room availability status and special guest requests, resolving guest complaints, reviewing comment cards, participating in the daily head of department (HOD) meetings, assisting his team members at the front desk when it gets busy, and when necessary, greet VIP guests and ensure that their check-ins go as smoothly as possible. He highly values his team’s input and often sets up informal meetings to discuss any issues which they have faced or are facing, and asks for suggestions to mitigate such issues to ensure that the front office operates as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Performance management and employee motivation are closely linked to leadership. The front office manager adapts positive leadership to his management style, which is crucial to ensure that employees adopt a positive attitude towards work and are not passive towards their duties. Performance management and motivation also ensure that profit forecasts are reached, services are consistent, and the overall environment is positive. Ultimately, guests expect value for money, and must therefore be offered an experience which meets, or more appropriately, exceeds their expectations.

Performance management at Leicester Marriott

Associate performance is fundamental to any organisation’s success. Potential associates at Leicester Marriott must undergo a three day induction before commencing work, to discuss key areas ranging from an explanation of the company’s organigram to disability discrimination awareness. The techniques adopted range from lectures to audio-visual presentations in the form of corporate films.

Once management is satisfied with their performance, they are cross trained by their department managers. The case study stresses that the pace of development within the company is solely up to the individual, so they must learn how to manage themselves accordingly. This happens to be a key characteristic of the human relations approach. Once a month a meeting is set up between associates and their managers to discuss and deal with any issues before they lead to any declines in customer satisfaction and other inconsistencies.

By reducing staff turnover, the quality of the services rendered, the profitability obtained, and the ability of staff to progress within the organisation to higher positions will be a lot more likely. In-house as well as online programmes are offered to employees who wish to improve their skills and performance, whilst managers are trained at other Marriott establishments. This would allow managers to observe how different establishments undergo their daily business, and how although each Marriott hotel aims to provide a quality experience, each establishment has unique features which make them attractive, such as unique décor, unique entertainment, or unique members of staff, for instance.

Performance management at the Grand Hotel Excelsior

Online and session based courses are offered free of charge to members of staff on a monthly basis, whereby skills such as cultural appreciation and awareness, and numerous others can be enhanced. Training is constantly offered to members of staff in-house, by hotel employees as well as professional consultation companies. Management believes that it is crucial for employees to receive the best training possible so as to be able to provide a seamless experience to guests and non-guests.

Induction training is typically one day long for those opting to work at front office, and this takes place in a meeting room on the premises. Being such a fast paced industry, most training occurs on the job. During the first few weeks of employment, employees at front office must log down their progress in a progress file, and take any necessary notes. Any issues which are encountered should be dealt with immediately to avoid unnecessary errors in the future. After the fundamental factors of cross training have been covered, employees must undergo a test whereby the skills obtained are examined.

Motivation at Leicester Marriott

Marriott believes that there are other means of motivation for staff other than receiving a salary at the end of the month. Employees should feel as though they are valued for their contributions to the organisation’s success. Staff is incentivised through numerous schemes such as discounts and exclusive offers when staying at Marriott properties. They may alternatively opt to receive vouchers for high end shops instead of making use of their Marriott stay. Although other motivators often overshadow working conditions, conditions at work may indeed lead to de-motivation. To avoid this, management provides quality canteen services, easy access to uniform, extensive taxi benefits, as well as other basic factors.

Other motivators come in the form of team building exercises, where employees can get to know each other better and develop stronger professional relationships, as well as departmental outings, barbeques, dress parties, Oscar parties, employee of the month and special person awards ceremonies, as well as appreciation week.

Motivation at the Grand Hotel Excelsior

Motivation is a fundamental part of leadership, as all those who form part of a team must be rewarded in some way or another for their efforts. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs plays an integral part in one’s performance at work. It states that for a person to live a fulfilling life there must be the necessary foundations in place. The satisfaction of the basic physiological requirements such as food and shelter are required to be able to work our way towards ‘self-fulfillment’.

It is understandable that organisations are unable to cater for all the factors listed in Maslow’s hierarchy because of financial and/or other limitations. At the Grand Hotel excelsior, employees are offered good quality canteen facilities for breakfast, lunch, tea time and dinner. The hotel also provides free accommodation for foreign students working at the hotel as well as for employees who work around the clock to prepare for large events. This is done to avoid employees having any unnecessary road accidents whilst driving home from work. A sense of safety is provided by constant 24 hour CCTV surveillance, as well as security officers, whilst a sense of belonging is evident in the group work that is required to successfully deal with everyday situations.

Management at the Excelsior rewards staff for their contributions to the success of the organisation mainly through special rates for themselves and close friends and family, a free weekend break at the end of each year for each employee and a partner, a good bottle of foreign wine for the member of staff with the highest up selling score, bonuses for every up sell which takes place, such us upgrading guests to a Sea View or Sea Front room from an inland view room, as well as certificates which are awarded to the best performing members of staff during the IXL (I Excel) Awards ceremony. Besides these, there are numerous other departmental activities and events which are organised throughout the year. Employees may also benefit from easy uniform access from 6 am till 6:30pm, taxi discounts, and other basic factors which staff need to be happy in their workplace.

Task 3 – Evaluate the leadership skills required to ensure effective management of the staff of the two organisations.

The main aim of a manager is to maximise the output of an organisation and simultaneously maximise profitability. To do so however, it is more often than not required to have positive leadership skills when working in the services industry. Employees often seek the guidance or assistance of their superiors, and their ability to perform well may be hindered by the inability of their superiors to lead by setting the right example. Effective leadership is therefore fundamental for the management of the staff of the two organisations.

Performance management

For both organisations to remain competitive and successful, they must ensure that employees are given the best possible training. Although it is difficult to provide perfect services in an industry full of variables, perfection must be aimed for nonetheless. A measure of performance must be established to be able to analyse areas which have been improved as well as those which await improvement.

To be able to improve performance;

Current performance must be analysed and compared to a set target.

Plans must be devised to be able to improve current performance and bring it in line with targets.

The devised plan must be implemented,

The implemented plan must be assessed, and

The methods of measurement must be re-assessed and re-formulated if it is required to do so.

Motivation

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs happens to be one of the most straightforward theories in psychological and motivational studies, which states that every human being has the basic requirements of food, drink and shelter, and it is only when these are satisfied that we are able to work towards ‘self-fulfillment’. Employees are motivated through the provision of certain elements from this hierarchy.

Employees should be incentivised to adopt a more positive attitude towards their duties, as well as to improve their performance. They need to know that they are of value to the organisation, as working in the hospitality industry requires a lot of time, energy and patience. It also happens to be one of the lowest paying industries, yet the input that is required for operations to run smoothly is phenomenal. Employees would expect to be motivated in other ways other than just receiving a salary at the end of the month, as this is a very short-lived motivator. They need to feel valued and respected by their superiors and by others, something that the new front office manager at the Grand Hotel Excelsior is highly capable of. He offers that reassurance that he is there for everyone, and that everyone should approach him when they have any difficulties. Most importantly, he knows that to develop as a team and overcome obstacles, he has to build a strong, reliable and trustworthy team.

Ethical leadership

Ethics is a branch of psychology which allows us to distinguish between, and understand the concepts of right and wrong. Leading by setting the right example is crucial for employees to feel secure at work. Unethical leadership can cause harm to employees on a psychological level, and this may spread to other aspects of their lives. Ethics is a complex subject and employees unfortunately face numerous difficult situations at the work place, where they may disagree with the actions of their superiors, but are often afraid to confront them because it may ultimately cost them their job.

Action-centred leadership

Taking immediate action on issues which must be addressed is important to ensure that professional relationships with employees are strengthened and not lost. Managing others requires a lot of patience and experience, and it is through positive leadership that much of it is possible.

John Adair’s action-centred leadership model deals with three crucial responsibilities that managers should possess. Depending on the difficulty of the task, the manager’s input may not be required until after the task is carried out. On the other hand, the manager may have to manage a team, group, or individuals if the task at hand requires detailed planning and foresight. Below are the three processes of John’s Adair’s concept:

achieving the task

managing the team or group

managing individuals

Successful leadership also relies on effective communication, counseling, stress management and unwritten psychological contracts.

Communication and counselling

Communication is important for the smooth running of any organisation. It allows for the clarification of messages up and down as well as across an organigram. Communication may take virtually any form, ranging from verbal to virtual discussions. Improved communication will allow for fewer hiccups in the services being rendered, meaning that guests will undoubtedly have a better experience.

Managers often have to counsel team members with issues or difficulties that they are facing. These may range from discussing past performance to discussing difficulties that they are having in relation to their work or personal lives.

Stress management

Stress is very often work related, and this may result in relationship problems at home and at work, as well as health problems, if it is not appropriately administrated. The effects of stress differ from person to person, and some people may be more capable of dealing with stressful situations than others. Excessive stress may reap havoc on a team, and may limit its ability to perform in line with targets. This is the reason why motivating employees is crucial to ensure that they develop a positive outlook on their duties at work, which would significantly decrease the perception that work and stress are correlated.

Psychological contract

The psychological contract is an unwritten contract that is the basis of a professional relationship that exists between employees and their employers. An employer would expect to be respected by his team, and an employee may in turn expect good working conditions and respect from the employer. Even though the psychological contract is unwritten, it is the least that is expected by employees and employers at work, and this forms the foundation upon which professional relationships are built and strengthened.

Task 4 – Examine a team in which you have worked and write an account of the nature and behaviour of the group

A team is a group of people that works together to reach a common target or objective. This objective can only be achieved with the combined efforts of each team member as the human input required is often too much for one person to handle, particularly when deadlines are involved.

Working at the front desk requires constant team work. The effectiveness of a team depends on how well each team member understands their roles, and how well they know each other’s characters and working methods. It is a fact that no one works in the exact same way as we all have different personalities; thinking patterns and methods of achieving the same objectives, and it is through such differences that we are able to provide a refreshing experience, one which is unique and special, yet professional.

Although the team work required at front office is often not for specific projects, such as for instance coming up with a new up-selling strategy, we unconsciously consider every shift to be a project. The team’s common objective is to ensure that all guests are satisfied with what they have purchased and that what we are providing them with meets, or exceeds their expectations.

The people I work with at the front desk are undoubtedly important to me, and the way I work. They certainly ease the stress of having to deal with every guest on your own, but more importantly, you know that there is someone who is in the same position as you are, dealing with similar issues and problems. When I see that my colleagues are having difficulty dealing with a specific issue, I do not hesitate to assist them, and vice versa. The typical shift is eight hours long, so it is in everyone’s best interests to get to know each other well by communicating openly and sharing ideas and thoughts, with the aim of developing trustworthy and positive professional relationships.

Bruce Tuckman (1965) developed four critical stages for team development. These stages describe how teams are developed, and how issues are dealt with to reach a common objective. The first stage is ‘forming’, which deals with the actual getting together of group members. Once my skills developed through training at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, the responsibilities given to me increased, and I was therefore more capable of working as part of a team. The second stage is ‘storming’, whereby the team analyses its objectives, and clearly defines the responsibilities of each team member. When problems arise at work, we discuss all of the possible ways in which we can solve them. We then select the most effective and efficient solutions which are in line with hotel policy. The third stage is ‘norming’, whereby team members work conjunctively to reach their targets, mainly through the creation of guidelines and rules. As team members work together, they will develop stronger relationships and will therefore develop trust.

Through work I was not only able to develop professional relationships with my colleagues, but I was also able to develop strong friendships. It is through such friendships that we are able to work successfully with one another. The final step is ‘performing’, whereby team members understand each other and their work, and their utmost concern is getting the job done. Working in a hotel is immensely fast-paced and there is little time to be wasted. The main objective of a front of house agent is ultimately to get the job done efficiently and professionally, in order to assist our next guests.

Task 5 – Discuss how the traits and characteristics of the individuals within this team influence their behaviour at work

Individuals who form part of the front office team have cheerful personalities, and their cheerfulness is visible in the way they work to ensure that guests are greeted and treated welcomingly. Guests enjoy meeting members of staff who are approachable, and they often stop by the front desk for a quick chat. As a team, we know each other’s basic traits and characteristics well. The true personalities of team members break free during break time, or after work, as working in a five star hotel requires one to behave in a certain manner.

As a team, we know each other’s basic traits and characteristics well. The true personalities of team members break free during break time, or after work, as working in a five star hotel requires one to behave in a certain manner. Personal characteristics typically include visual aspects such as gender, race and age, social and cultural characteristics such as religion and sexual orientation, and psychological characteristics such as motivation and attitudes. It is through such personal characteristics that we develop particular beliefs or preferences, such as religious or political preferences, for instance. Delicate subjects may be openly discussed between team members because of the friendships that have develop over time. However, such delicate subjects are never discussed with guests as they may project a negative image of the individual, as well as the organisation.

The most prominent traits of individuals are said to be the ‘big five’ personality traits, which include conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness and extroversion. My team mates undoubtedly possess a mixture of these five traits, and numerous others. It is impossible for people to have the exact same character as others, as one’s character is ultimately a product of their life experiences.

Perception is an important subject when dealing with traits and characteristics. Individuals may make certain traits visible, such as agreeableness and conscientiousness, but are able to hide other traits which they feel should not be visible, such as neuroticism. It is normal to feel anxious when stressful situations arise, and the level of anxiety which is experienced by an individual depends on what their threshold for anxiety tolerance is. In such a case, a guest may perceive the member of staff to be calm and composed, when he/she is in fact feeling anxious.

Task 6 – Compare and contrast the structure of Leicester Marriott with an organisation where you have worked/have researched.

To be able to deal with all the processes required to operate a hospitality establishment such as a large capacity hotel, company directors and managers must employ specialised teams to ensure that all work is done efficiently and effectively, with the highest precision, and where possible, the lowest cost. As the Leicester Marriott Hotel and the Grand Hotel Excelsior are both relatively large establishments they require formal structures with specific roles and responsibilities. Every manager is responsible for a particular department and team. This in theory should