HAS THE TIME COME TO RE-DEFINE THE REAL FUNCTIONS OF A HOTEL GENERAL MANAGER OR GIVE THEM A NEW NAME?
What skills are needed by today's General Managers and is this descriptor indicative of the actual function? Are the aspirations of today's hospitality graduates properly focused on management? Does not the term management infer the protection of the 'status quo'? Are we not training our future leaders on the steadfast and boring principles of the past?
As a former GM in several luxury hotels and resorts in several countries, I feel that I have some inkling of what my recruiters were seeking when they decided on me as their choice candidate for the position. In not one case do I think they were seeking a 'manager'.
The hotels ranged from a small 1,000 year old virtually bankrupt coaching inn to a bran new Ultra Orthodox Muslim hotel..........and from a rapidly constructed city landmark hotel developed under threat of death for a Latin American Dictator in 100 days to the largest incentive destination hotel in the world in Acapulco.....and from the first purpose-built Four Seasons in the world to an Oscar de la Renta designed city jewel in the Latin Caribbean. There were others!
All of them required anything else but a 'manager'.
My experience in these and other odd situations are no different from other hotel and resort leaders around the world today.
.....and yet, I still come across owners or operators who seek my help in finding....'a general manager'. Someone who will hire the staff and see that the household is kept in order. A manager who understands how the restaurant works and ensures that we do not run out of coffee spoons and that the towels are washed and the bacon is crisp.
I still see that the recruiters have not changed their tune and that the job specifications for these positions reflect an old world approach to the industry which is still having great difficulty in accepting that we are entertainers, plain and simple.
Allow me a comparison or two to make this point.
Barry Sternlicht is the hospitality industry's version of Andrew Lloyd Webber. They are equally as talented and are dreaming the same kind of dreams and then surrounding those dreams with the right talent. Ian Schraeger and Steve Wynn are perhaps the hospitality industry's versions of Stephen Spielberg or Alfred Hitchcock. Donald Trump perhaps another version of Yianni, both being spectacular but controversial from time to time?
The more exciting difference is that our theatre is interactive and virtually scriptless. Our stage is multi directional and our show is 24/7 and can not be put in a can. It is more live theatre than film but more improv than scripted..........but show-business it is.
If we are indeed in Entertainment, let's call a spade a spade.
Here therefore are my descriptors for those owners who need to think a little more about what they really want because there really is no position that requires managing the 'status quo'.
- Casting director
- Stage Manager
- Stage Designer
- Orchestra Leader
- Box Office
- Musical Score
And as I look back over my career as a hotel General Manager, I can remember clearly the occasions when I was a little bit of all the above.
Now if we can just be a little bit more creative in the titles we use!!
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