Who would have guessed that on the back side of a pandemic worker shortages would become one of the greatest challenges to businesses of all types, specifically for the service and hospitality industry? High touch, high service organizations, like private clubs rely on the ability to create and deliver personalized experiences and interact with members. But in a market difficult to even find warm bodies, the challenges are identifying the right people, training, and cultivating those who will even fit in the service industry.
Quoting from Jackie and Three Carpenter’s new book, People First, in the first line they ask, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if employees came to work everyday excited, happy, and eager to do their best?” They suggest that employees taking ownership of their jobs stick around longer producing greater long-term value, all the while operating with excellence, delivering on the member experience. Sounds like something we all aspire to, right?
Assuming you do find them, train, and motivate them to enjoy service and hospitality, how do you manage conditions creating stress with members? The unfamiliarity of new servers, speed of service, menu knowledge, and lack of personalization can lead to frustrations sometimes spilling over to the newly hired and even seasoned staff. Likewise, a short-staffed operation can create even greater stress.
Positive management skills are a necessity at each level and area of the Club. An “all hands on deck” mentality, visibly demonstrating a team hard at work, covering each other’s back, can be crucial. A heavy load is always easier when it is shared. Kind of like COVID when we wanted the members to feel safer, clubs made a point of visibly cleaning and disinfecting. When members see a team supporting one another, it is a visible reminder of how your team is rising to the occasion and relieves tensions on both sides of the table.
Start with messaging within the Committees and Boards. Get them fully onboard, supportive of the team to do the best they can. Communicate with members clearly and frequently. Keep it positive and reinforce things are getting better every day. Your own energy will provide strength to your entire team. Deploy processes and systems to gather staff recognition and personally thank them for their efforts and a job well done. If necessary, create a disciplinary committee to address those that would abuse any employee or another member. Enforce for both members and staff to see.
As you drive through the process of rebuilding your staff and restoring first class services to your members, look at systems that allow even deeper understanding of staff issues, that provide instantaneous feedback of member experiences, that enable staff to enjoy and be part of each member experience. From employee culture surveys, to active member listening through MemberConnect and even custom member surveys, there has never been a time more critical in understanding what both employees and members are feeling and experiencing. Knowledge is vital to accurately identify key drivers of engagement, creating a positive, inviting culture and developing targeted action plans.
COVID has provided a great opportunity for growth and activity levels not seen for years! If managed properly this opportunity may well restore what has been a slow decline over the past decade or more. How diligent, how visionary, and how well we utilize available resources (processes and systems) to manage what lies ahead, will tell your story.
As Tony Robbins once remarked, “No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” I would love to provide more details on the systems that can keep you well ahead of the employee and member curve.