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Taking control of your career

Published by Iperform
24 June 2014
Career Development, Promotion,

Moving from one property or company to another can be a way to move along the hospitality career pipeline. However many people prefer to stay with the same company and progress, at least in the short term. So, what are some simple guidelines for getting ahead or taking control of your own career development?

A few simple concepts that I have identified, in many cases with the help of others, include the following:

  • Promotion is a reward, it is not a right
  • In order to be noticed take a simple project and turn it into something that is both memorable and that showcases your abilities
  • Don’t dress for the job you’ve got, dress for the job you want
  • Keep improving!

Let’s have a look at these three points in greater detail:

Promotion is a reward, it is not a right

How many people in our business get frustrated because they see others progressing faster than they are? We hear “I have been with the hotel for 3 years now.....” as what is meant to be a convincing argument for promotion.

The truth of the matter is that the growth and development that most people are seeking is going to happen when they show they are ready for it, and not before. Nobody can expect others to recognise and reward their potential if they are not at least prepared to create opportunities for that potential to shine through.

This can mean volunteering, rather than waiting to be asked. It can mean being proactive about offering assistance, or asking for learning and development opportunities rather than waiting for someone else to offer them.

Anyone who wants to discover the importance of this, have a look at the section on the Circle of Influence in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

It is just important to realise that the career growth you seek has to be earned.

In order to be noticed take a simple project and turn it into something that is both memorable and that showcases your abilities

This concept was first introduced to me a number of years ago when I read an article by “In Search of Excellence” author Tom Peters about the WOW project. The message was simple and I think was perhaps one of the best pieces of advice for anybody wishing to move their career along.

It worked for me. A number of years ago I was asked by my GM to make submissions in 2 categories for a company awards program – “Best Training Initiative” as I was Training Manager and “Best Environmental Initiative” as I was head of the Green Committee. Our hotel hadn’t won anything in ages, and the chances of us winning were perceived as slim. But I gave both submissions my best shot.....and we won in both categories!

People at the awards night were, for the first time in a long time, sitting up and noticing not only our hotel and our GM, they were noticing me.

And within 6 months I was offered the group training role. I honestly believe that I would never have been offered that role if my GM hadn’t brought to my notice the project opportunity that would be my vehicle to success. I also would not have won if I had not given the project my very best.

As Peters says in the article: “Project work is the vehicle by which the powerless gain power. Forget about ‘empowerment programs.’ Instead, volunteer for every lousy project that comes along: Organize the office Christmas party. Turn that dreadful holiday party into an event that says, ‘Thanks for a terrific year!’ to all employees.”

He also says: “Contrary to all of the project-management literature and all of the project-software checklists, the point of the exercise is not to do a ‘good job’ of managing the project that your boss dumped into your lap. It's to use every project opportunity that you can get your hands on to create surprising new ways of looking at old problems. To do that, you need to understand the four steps that go into every Wow Project: finding and creating a great project, selling the project, executing the project, and handing off the project so that you can move on to the next one.”

Don’t dress for the job you’ve got, dress for the job you want

This is not just about grooming and presentation, although in hospitality this is obviously important. It is more about showing people your potential through your actions, your confidence and your demeanour

If you want to make the transition from, for example, Front Office Manager to Rooms Division Manager within the same business, the people who count (your current Rooms Division Manager, your GM, members of Exco, HR, Head Office etc) should not just see a really competent Front Office Manager when they look at you, they should see the next Rooms Division Manager.

Things they should see include the skills, the values and even the time management of someone who is ready to make the transition. They should see someone whose opinions other people respect, and who acts and moves with confidence. Things they should not see include someone who gets involved in politics and gossip, who is unreliable and who lacks the presence of someone who is in control.

Keep improving!

We can defer to Stephen Covey once again here, and his section on “sharpening the saw” in the “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” book.

Training and Development is important for career growth for two main reasons – it can help prepare us for the next role, and it can also make us better in our current role.

Everyone can learn. Everyone can improve. Why do elite athletes – the best tennis players, golf players, football players and so on – continue to train even when they are already highly successful? It is because they have the ambition to constantly improve, and it is because if they don’t someone will come along who will end up beating them at their own game. Many people have the goal of succeeding at the equivalent of the “elite athlete” level of the hospitality industry, but don’t necessarily have the passion to keep improving through training and learning!

The simple summary of all these points......take control of your own hospitality career, and don’t wait for others to do for your career what you won’t do for yourself!

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