‘Team members must be “people persons.” In the hospitality industry, we are always interacting, whether it’s with co-workers, guests, or vendors. If we cannot do our job with a spirit of hospitality, executing genuine guest service, we will fail our team and our guests.‘ BARE shares an article by Larry Stuart for Forbes on “Hiring The Spirit Of Hospitality.”
‘Herb Kelleher passed away a few weeks ago, and it is a significant loss to those of us who knew him. There was a magic about what he did as founder and CEO at Southwest Airlines. But he would be the first to tell you that what they have done there can be replicated anywhere. It starts at the top, with a leader who hires the right people people and then lets them be who they are.
The airline business is a service business. Herb knew to stress the “serve” part of that word in every day and every deed and every interaction with every customer. He needed to hire a smile and a sunny disposition, no matter how quirky they may have been otherwise. He wasn’t intimidated by their quirks. In fact, he embraced them. It’s been duly noted that he had a few quirks of his own.
Let’s face it. Everybody is not blessed with a sunny disposition, but Herb knew that a sunny disposition is a must for those who serve in the hospitality industry. Team members must be “people persons.” In the hospitality industry, we are always interacting, whether it’s with co-workers, guests, or vendors. If we cannot do our job with a spirit of hospitality, executing genuine guest service, we will fail our team and our guests. Someone who is personable will work with a whatever-it-takes, lay-down-my-life-for-others attitude. These are the people who willingly go the extra mile without thinking twice about what it will cost them.
So, how do you find those diamonds, those people who create a growing tribe of engaged customers? We’ll spend a lot of time on this in this space over the next few weeks and months, but let’s begin with a couple of crucial building blocks of a successful service industry hire.
Hire a Smile
I’ve always said that you can buy someone’s back and hands, but you can’t buy their smile. Many will be willing to do the physical work, but they may not be passionate enough that it transfers to their presentation and execution. It’s easy to hire individuals who have it all on the outside but don’t have a clue how to serve their fellow man.
When hiring the spirit of hospitality, a natural, welcoming smile is a priority. Without it, your guest won’t feel welcomed, cared for, or appreciated. One man I know has his human resources personnel judge a potential team member’s smile on a scale of one to ten. If their smile doesn’t score an eight or higher, they’re automatically cut. A smile cannot be trained. It comes from the heart. If someone can’t smile, they need to look for a job someplace else—outside of the hospitality industry where smiling isn’t a necessity.
A smile can create a positive moment in the midst of tears, unhappiness or stress. It brings an individual’s personality to life. It adds a special sparkle. It’s a universal connection here on earth. A smile will, most of the time, attract another smile. Smiles are gifts that don’t cost anything to give and are valuable to receive, especially for the person who is having a challenging day. Smiles are a sign of encouragement and love. A smile is key requirement when hiring someone who will be serving others.
The bottom line: if people aren’t smiling during the interview then they are not likely to smile when they are in the pressure cooker of the moment and the crisis du jour that inevitably happens in the service business.
Look for Humility
Serving others doesn’t always come naturally, nor does a servant’s heart develop overnight. It cannot easily be trained later in life. Just as the cliché says, it’s difficult to teach old dogs new tricks. It’s even more difficult to teach a person how to serve with the spirit of hospitality if they haven’t grown up in an environment where that was taught and nurtured from a young age. But it is possible for someone to develop the heart of a servant if they have a willingness to learn to put others first. Note that it takes a very special, compassionate, patient person to accept this not-so-easy task.
Finding someone who possesses humility is all about identifying individuals who are sincere, love themselves enough to love others, are willing to do whatever it takes to serve each other, and most importantly, will hold themselves accountable to use their God-given talents to the best of their ability. Skill sets, education, and goals can be learned through various training processes. But team members cannot always learn to have a spirit of hospitality. It’s always best to hire someone who naturally walks in it already.
You’ll note that these two traits are inherent. You can train somebody how to do a job and all of the technical aspects that go with it. You can’t change who they are. And, as Herb Kelleher showed us, you shouldn’t try to change them. Let them soar. You and your organization will soar right along with them.’
Today, BARE International sets the industry standard as one of the largest independent providers of customer experience research, data, and analytics for companies worldwide. BARE’s customer experience research can provide you with critical data to make meaningful business decisions. Ask us how.
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