Mentorship, the Missing Link in Developing and Retaining Quality Managers

Innovative Mentorsip Program Helps Address Global Spa Staffing Challenge

By Deborah Smith Principal, Smith Club & Spa Specialists, USA | June 28, 2015

The concepts of spa, wellness, and complementary healing principles date back to ancient times, with many practices handed down from one generation to the next. Consider this mentorship program a modern version of that practice, with mentors giving freely of their time and talent to spa professionals who are early in their career journey.

Program results so far have been very positive according to Smith, and the initiative has so far influenced the careers of 36 junior spa managers across a variety of spa settings at hotels and resorts, clubs, mineral springs, and free-standing wellness facilities. From a strategic standpoint, this mentorship initiative is one solution the spa industry has come up with to create a more engaged workplace with stronger leaders, increased employee satisfaction and employee retention.

A significantly expanded program is in the works for 2016, and applications for both mentees and mentors are currently being taken through the end of August 2015.

In each of the two 3-month pilot sessions, mentees accepted into our program were matched with a seasoned spa director to meet twice a month via video/phone conference (or in person) to hash out career challenges which each mentee had pre-identified in an intake questionnaire. To be eligible to participate as a mentee in this free program, Spa Managers needed to have a minimum of two years' full-time experience, and commit to preparing Call Agendas and providing follow-up documentation of each meeting to the Mentorship Program administrative assistant. There were four Regional Program Supervisors who providing oversight for each geographical area (Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, Asia/Australia).

Both mentors and mentees also commit to abide by a Code of Conduct to ensure the program is confidential, safe, and collaborative. The program was designed with a key focus on improving Stress Management, Time Management, Priority Setting, and Decision Making skills.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.