What makes a great GM?03 September 2010
Being at the helm of a hotel is no easy task. General managers need to be not just qualified and experienced, but also to possess a genuine desire to serve, to be versatile and quick thinking, have good numeracy skills, and to be able to keep a clear head in a stressful situation. They need excellent communication and interpersonal skills, especially when dealing with speakers of other languages, and to have the energy levels to cope with the long hours that go hand in hand with the job.
In a bid to identify which qualities really make a general manager stand out, we asked several regional industry representatives for their views. Here are their thoughts.
For a GM, or any hotelier’s job, performance is determined by three components: First, what they do, their choice of actions and their areas of competencies; second, how they do it, this is the quality issue, the area where impeccability versus sloppiness shows up; and third, how they are being, their nature. This is the Holy Grail of distinguishing talent. For a hotelier, this means being empowering, inspired, accountable and self-generating. The opposing way of being - and the tennis elbow or fatigue response for burn out in a service industry – is cynicism, apathy, resignation, making others responsible for things going wrong, hiding things, and people only doing what they are told.
This third area is what we assess for. It’s easy to find out what people do and how they do it, but the whole impact is altered dramatically by how people are being. The instant clues are body language, the words people use and their reaction to stimuli.
A good general manager has to have the right attitude. They have to have worked at a certain level and have been a GM before. They have to be able to multi-task, and to know operationally how things should be. A general manager has to be knowledgeable about many, many aspects. They should have had a base of being in all the different departments, and then when an employee comes to them with a problem, they understand it. Finally, you have to be an all-rounder and to know how to manage people.
My list would include: someone who is whole brain thinking, an innovative thinker, has great people skills and demonstrates that ability constantly, is decisive, someone who lets others lead, who has the ability to listen, who knows his strengths and weaknesses, challenges assumptions, is regularly visible to guests at check-in and check-out, and finally someone who really understands what ‘people alignment’ means across the business and walks the talk.
Somebody who is happy, somebody who is self-confident, somebody who is not egotistical, someone who genuinely likes people and when I say people I mean his customers, the people who work for him, his suppliers, as well as the public. [A general manager should be] somebody who feels good about what he does, somebody who is genuinely passionate, as well as somebody who is open to change, and moving to different ways.
A couple of things stand out. First, a general manager should be someone who is a good leader. Hotels are a personnel intensive business and need a good leader to keep everyone energized and focused on product delivery and to do the basics. Second, a general manager should be someone who has the ability to think strategically and not just be process orientated.
ADD YOUR VIEWS
What qualities do you perceive as making a general manager great as opposed to merely good?