During the opening keynote at Hotel Technology Forum 2023, Dr. Bryan K. Williams discussed five key ways hoteliers can motivate both themselves and their staff to excel at their job every single day.
First, he asked attendees to close their eyes and envision a problem or obstacle that feels insurmountable.
“That’s your mountain,” Williams explained. “Mountains are daunting and intimidating. You look at them and think: I’ll never climb that. We all have our own version. But we can master them, we just need the right tools.”
To master the mountain, Williams had the audience repeat five different affirmations, and then explained why these affirmations are so meaningful.
Affirmation 1: I will greet this day with love in my heart.
“It's really hard not to succeed at something if you love what you do. When you love something, you thrive and improve and you help others to grow as well. Love is the greatest secret to success in all adventures, so always dig for reasons to applaud!”
Affirmation 2: I will persist until I succeed.
“The most common reason we don’t reach our goals is because we stop too soon. We get tired, we lose heart, we give up. But if you’re not willing to stop, at some point, you will succeed.”
Affirmation 3: I will live this day as if it is my last.
“Tomorrow is not promised, so avoid the killers of time! Destroy procrastination with action. You can't get time back. It's life's most precious resource.”
Affirmation 4: I will laugh at the world.
“Train yourself to say these four words: This too shall pass. When you’re feeling down, say those words. We all know it’s true. We’ve all lived long enough to know this. From pandemics to heartaches to headaches.”
Affirmation 5: I will act now!
“Most people have an unrealistic perception of their future self. They think their future self will be different from their present self. But it’s not true! If you don’t do something different today, you will be doing the same thing you’ve always done 10 years from now. To change the future act now, in the present. Set daily goals. Remember: Only action determines your value in this world.”
While encouraging the attendees to really think about and apply these affirmations in their daily life, Williams also helped the audience to better understand how they can improve as leaders.
“I worked in hotels for many years, and some of my fondest memories is when my team leader would see that my colleagues and I needed help and was willing to roll up his sleeves, help out and alleviate the pressure we were facing,” he noted. “Our staff need to know that we’re there to take care of them. When we take care of them, they’re better able to take care of the guest. Remember, leaders serve and servers lead.”
Leaders Develop Great Leaders
Williams then related a story about a man who complained that his staff constantly called him for help, even when he was on vacation. When Williams suggested that the man turn off his phone and let the staff make their own decisions, the man immediately said: “I couldn’t do that! They NEED me.”
“The real problem was that this man needed to be needed. He had trained his team not to think on their own and conditioned them to rely on him entirely. One of the worst things we can do as leaders is become a mountain in our team members’ lives by removing their autonomy.”
Then Williams hit the audience with a sobering statistic: One of every two working adults have left a job to get away from the person to whom they report.
“The biggest talent retention strategy we have as leaders is to develop great leaders. The leaders we develop will be the reason why our staff members stay and thrive or leave.”
Leaders Build Up
One of Williams’ first jobs was as a dishwasher. His first day on the job, the chef took him around the kitchen showing him what to do and then had a serious conversation with him.
“Whenever you come in to work, this team will either be better or worse because of you. And in six months, there should be evidence that your participation in this job made this restaurant better in some way.”
It didn’t matter to this chef that Williams was “just a dishwasher.” To the chef, every person and every role within that restaurant mattered and had a significant role in creating a successful business.
“Do your team members know that their role is significant? Do you help them to feel that way? Those people don’t have to work for you. They could work for anyone. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help them feel significant. When you do that, they’ll want to work for you.”
This was just one of the dozens of sessions at HTF 2023 that delved into the critical challenges and operational challenges facing the lodging technology space.