Practical take-aways from Leadership Learning Journey

In October, a new Glasgow Welcomes initiative saw 10 key influencers from across the city’s tourism & hospitality sector embark on an Executive Leadership Learning Journey to London. The participants gained first-hand advice and experience from several top hospitality establishments, in addition to four days’ tuition at the renowned Glion Institute. The trip was organised in partnership with the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland.

At last month’s GW Champions’ Networking event at the SSE Hydro, Craig Martin, Head of HR at Glasgow Airport, and Sara Copeland, People Strategy and Resources Manager at Glasgow Life, shared with delegates some of the tips on motivation and people engagement gained through this Learning Journey opportunity:

1) It’s all about the people: If businesses look after their staff, the staff will look after the customers. A business that has happy staff is more likely to have satisfied customers.

2) It’s also about great leaders: The aim should be to recruit good people in the first instance and then offer great leadership, so that staff learn by best practice and example how to offer the best customer service.

3) Great expectations: It has been shown that businesses that shine at customer service excellence have staff who know what is expected of them and are clear about their goals and targets.

4) Know yourself: As a leader or business owner you should work out who you are. For example, how do you behave on a good day (and a bad day) and what are your own strengths and weaknesses? By understanding who you are, you can learn how to be a better leader.

5) Know your team: Understand what makes each member of your team tick and what they like and don’t like. Think about how your language and actions impact on others and how staff members receive information. We are all different and it is important to understand this, and treat people as individuals.

6) Motivation by appreciation: This comes from the teachings of acclaimed workplace motivator Charles Schwab. He said that encouragement and appreciation of people leads to improved enthusiasm. If people think that they are appreciated, they are more likely to work harder to please.

7) The language of appreciation: To learn more about how different people feel appreciated, there’s a useful book by Gary Chapman and Paul White called “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organisations by Encouraging People”.

8) Five ways to appreciate your staff: These are some of the different ways that employees might like to receive appreciation. Everyone is different, so it is helpful to look at some of the “five languages”.

Words of appreciation: An affirmation of appreciation either verbal or in writing.

Quality time: Giving your undivided attention to a team member.

Acts of service: Offering to help someone or supporting them. For example, “What can I do to help you?”

Tangible gifts: Rewards such as lunch vouchers, a bottle of wine, a concert ticket. Choose the gift to suit the individual.

Physical touch: On some occasions a handshake or a high five shows someone that you really appreciate their work. Use with caution as befits the workplace.

9) Manage change effectively: Most businesses are in a constant state of change but people are creatures of habit. To keep staff on side leaders should involve people in the process of change, telling them about the challenges of profitable business and working together to find solutions. This is more likely to win their hearts and minds, rather than turning them against the change. Read more in our next blog about Tips for staff motivation during workplace change

The ingredients for business success

An important element of the Learning Journey was the guided visits to five-star London hospitality establishments. Five things that the Glasgow tourism business leaders learned from seeing customer service excellence in action:

1) Look after the small details: Small things can become irritating, such as a lack of teaspoons or uniforms that are not liked. Try to be aware of what staff are frustrated by and keep on top of rectifying these things.

2) The right people: Bad attitudes can destroy a happy workplace and culture so take action if you think there is a bad apple upsetting the cart. Try to change their mindset but if you can’t it might be the time to let them go.

3) Service recovery: See this as an opportunity rather than a failure. Empower your staff to be able to deal with a problem or complaint and to make it right for the customer at the time, so it doesn’t escalate.

4) Train, train, train: Invest in your people and don’t accept that at some point they will simply leave. If you offer staff training and career prospects you will gain greater loyalty.

5) Get the basics right: Build your business on good foundations by attracting the right staff, offering a positive working environment, rewards, targets, training and career prospects.

Feedback from the audience

Feedback from the Champions’ event was very positive, with many participants mentioning take-away tips which they would implement in their own business.

Duncan Johnston, General Manager of Hotel Indigo Glasgow, commented: “I was also on the Leadership Learning trip. I learned a lot from that and also from today. In particular it is important to look at different behavioural styles in your team. If you look at this you can then work out how to get the best from each person. It makes a lot of sense because we all driven by different motivations and have different personalities, but as leaders we don't always think about that when setting rewards and targets.”

Likewise, Maddie Anderson of Two Fat Ladies restaurant added: “I was part of the Leadership Learning Journey trip to London. It was great to learn about best practice in establishments that are acclaimed for their customer service. I also took away lots of tips on creating wow factors and today has reminded me of how much we learned on the trip.” 

• Look out on this blog for more practical tips and advice learned at the Glasgow Welcomes Champions’ Network winter event.

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