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Chapter 7 Serving with a smile: motivation and empowerment.

Hospitality Principle:

Motivate and empower your employees.

A happy employee will stick with the company, give better service to the customer, and recommend company products to others.

--Sears Roebuck study of employee attitudes

A smile costs nothing--and in the hospitality industry, it means everything.

--Bryan D. Langton, Chairman & CEO, Holiday Inns Worldwide

It takes happy employees to make happy customers.

--J. Willard. Marriott, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

Leaders think about empowerment, not control.

--Warren Bennis


After reading this chapter, you should understand:

* How hospitality organizations motivate their employees to provide outstanding guest service.

* How organizations reinforce and reward guest-centered employees.

* How outstanding hospitality organizations fulfill employee needs.

* What characterizes successful work teams.

* What team decision making can and cannot accomplish.

* How role playing can enhance guest service.

* How modern hospitality organizations enhance guest service by empowering employees.

* What role authority plays in organizations and why employees accept authority.


authority-acceptance theory

eager factors


job content/job context


positive reinforcement

role theory

work groups and work teams

work team characteristics

The environment is superb, and the mechanical and back-of-the-house aspects of the delivery system are flawless--so far, so good. Now it's up to the frontline employee. In almost all guest experiences, the employee can make the difference between a satisfied guest and a dissatisfied guest. The employee can also turn satisfaction to wow. In the manufacturing sector, the tire or automobile on the assembly line doesn't really care about the scowl on the employee's face, the sarcastic comments, or the bad attitude. But people who come to the guest experience are very aware of how employees treat them. If the hotel gift-shop clerk makes a comment that offends a guest, the guest is angry at the employee and also at the hotel that hired and "trained" the employee. Because the guest service employee is so important in the guest's determination of value and quality, hospitality organizations that strive for "positively outrageous service" take great care, as we have seen in previous chapters, in the hiring, training, development, and retention of their employees.

This chapter focuses on motivating and empowering the hospitality employee to provide a high-quality guest experience. Since quality is defined by the guest, the employee who provides the guest experience must be not only well trained but highly motivated to meet the guest's expectations and to do so consistently. If the role of the hospitality service provider is this important to the organization, the role of the hospitality manager--whose leadership and managerial skills can influence employee attitudes and behaviors greatly--is vital.


A family was checking in at the Hyatt Grand Cypress on a busy night. The hotel was full, the family's reservation had not been properly handled, and the husband, wife, and three tired children were upset. The front-desk employee assessed the situation and acted promptly. She took some quarters out of the petty cash drawer and gave them to the kids to go and play the video games and gave the parents chits for a drink in the lobby bar, while she went to find a manager to straighten out the problem. The parents were happy, the kids were happy, and the front-desk person had defused a tense situation.

At the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, a waiter overheard two guests talking about their college reunion. In Japan, college reunions occur yearly and usually have a good turnout. The waiter realized that college reunions were an untapped source of business for the hotel. He brought the idea up at the weekly meeting of his work group. Not long after, the hotel introduced this new service. It was a huge success, bringing in $600,000 in revenue in the first two months. (1)

The Hyatt employee didn't take a creative path to solving a guest problem because she had to but because she wanted to. Something or someone motivated the Imperial Hotel employee to see the creative possibilities in a new idea and pass it along for development. The challenge for hospitality managers is to discover what makes employees not only do their jobs efficiently and competently but also want to go the extra mile.

Hospitality organizations have learned the importance of using their employees from the neck up as well as from the neck down. Every guest experience is unique, and any manager who believes it possible to predefine policy and procedures for handling any and all guest experiences is mistaken. Employees should know that they are encouraged, expected, and trusted to handle all the many and varied situations that come up in the guest service areas for which they are responsible. If they were properly selected and trained in the first place, management must make it possible for them do their jobs with responsibility, skill, enthusiasm, and fun. But how?

The Power of Positive Reinforcement

The answer is simple. Implementing the answer, however, is the challenge facing every manager. The answer is based on the well-accepted psychological principle that behavior which is rewarded tends to be repeated, and behavior which is not rewarded tends not to be repeated. The way to keep employees at high levels of performance, then, is to provide rewards for behaviors that are associated with high levels of guest satisfaction and not to reward behaviors that are not.

Positive reinforcement is no simple task. Employees are as varied as guests. Just as guests differ in what they expect, employees have different definitions of what they expect in terms of rewards from their organizational relationships. In a sense, employees are the manager's customers. They define the value and quality of the employment relationship just as the customer defines the value and quality of the customer experience. Bob Jones and Mary Smith each define what is and is not a reward for them. The managerial challenge is to discover and then provide rewards in types and amounts that each employee believes are equitable and appropriate. To make rewarding good performance even harder for the manager, employees have changing expectations, moods, and valuations of the employment relationship.

Wanted: Fun, Fair, Interesting Jobs

For the most part, however, the employees of hospitality organizations look for three things in a job. It must be fun, fair, and interesting. Walt Disney said, "You don't work for a dollar--you work to create and have fun." (2) Chili's Norman Brinker said, "If you have fun at what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. Make work like play--and play like hell." (3) The key to managing and retaining these employees, then, is to create job situations and provide rewards that the employees perceive as fun, fair, and interesting. If the organization can successfully build these elements into the job situation, employees will be motivated to work hard and follow direction. The trick is that everyone's definition of fun, fair, and interesting is different.

Employee Satisfaction and Guest Satisfaction: A Direct Relationship

According to Disney managers Craig Taylor and Cindy Wheatley-Lovoy, "Leaders motivate people, develop their talents, and provide proper resources and rewards to them to succeed." (4) If hospitality managers and supervisors offer appropriate incentives and fulfill employee needs, then employees will find their jobs to be fun, fair, and interesting; they will be satisfied in their work. If employees are satisfied, then they are much more likely to try to satisfy the guests they serve. Guest satisfaction obviously translates into repeat business and bottom-line profitability. This series of relationships--the importance of leaders to employee satisfaction, and the importance of employee satisfaction to guest satisfaction--makes intuitive sense and is supported by research.

Valarie Zeithaml and Mary Jo Bitner support the relationship between employee satisfaction and guest satisfaction: "There is concrete evidence that satisfied employees make for satisfied customers (and satisfied customers can in turn reinforce employees' sense of satisfaction in their jobs). Some have even gone so far as to suggest that unless service employees are happy in their jobs, customer satisfaction will be difficult to achieve." (5)

How do you find out if guests are satisfied? Chapter 13 is largely devoted to different ways of determining guest satisfaction, and the best way may be to ask them. How do you find out if employees are satisfied? In the same way. MCI Communications surveys its employees several times a year on job aspects that typically lead to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction, such as employee relationships with their bosses, their feelings about their pay, and opinions about working conditions. The human resources director says, "We know employee satisfaction does increase customer satisfaction, as well as productivity, for us." (6)

Sears Roebuck studied attitudes of employees in 800 stores and found that attitudes about such job aspects as workload and how their bosses treated them had, according to Sue Shellenbarger, "a measurable effect on customer satisfaction and revenue. Basically, a happy employee will stick with the company, give better service to the customer, and recommend company products to others." (7) If employee attitude improved by 5 percent, customer satisfaction improved by 1.3 percent, and revenue improved by 0.5 percent. If Sears executives "knew nothing about a store except that employee attitudes had improved 5%, they could reliably predict a revenue rise of .5% over what it would otherwise have been." (8) The Sears study supports other evidence that a happy employee gives better service to the customer.

Rewarding the Desired Behavior

Most managers attend to the problem people and ignore those who perform at their normal, competent level. Employees learn that the "squeaky wheel gets the grease."

Rewarding the wrong behavior is as big a mistake as not rewarding the right behavior. The organization's reward system needs constant and careful review to ensure that the behaviors being rewarded are the behaviors that the organization wants. For example, Guest First Hotels tells its employees they should make every effort to satisfy the guest. But GuestFirst evaluates and rewards employee performance only according to the budget numbers. This practice has been called "rewarding A while hoping for B." Most employees will naturally focus on the numbers and not on the guest-satisfaction ratings. Similarly, if GuestFirst tells its employees how important team performance is but rewards its employees only as individuals, employees will see that team effort does not matter that much.

At the Buffet

A popular buffet restaurant decided to add a greeter position to welcome guests as they entered the restaurant. The manager told the newly hired employee explicitly that his primary responsibility was to greet and welcome the guests. However, as time went on, to keep the employee busy when guests were not entering the restaurant, the manager added responsibilities to the position--such as checking periodically to make sure there were enough trays or making sure that the butter dish was always full. The greeter quickly realized that the manager never complimented him for properly greeting the guests, nor did he ever say anything to him when he missed a guest because he was too busy with his other duties. But if he ever let the buffet line run out of trays or butter, he was strongly reprimanded. Therefore, by her actions or lack of action, the manager had redefined the job description. The manager made her real priorities clear, and the employee adjusted his actions accordingly.

Identifying the Rewards

The first step in satisfying the employees who must satisfy the guests is to identify the rewards desired by employees. Most employees begin new jobs with energy and enthusiasm. They want to do well. But this fast start can't last forever without encouragement and help. The expectations that they will receive desired rewards for performance are what keep people energized, enthused, and working hard on behalf of organizations. Effective employee performance is a result of ensuring that the right people are in the right jobs for their talents, properly trained to do the job the way it should be done to provide the hospitality experience that guests expect. They must be kept energized to perform those jobs with efficiency and enthusiasm.

Necessary Managerial Skills

Managers must have certain skills to support and motivate employees. Administrative skills are the ability to take care of the routine. Managers must be able to handle the paperwork, administrative procedures, and policies that directly influence each employee's ability to perform the job. A manager who forgets to submit the proper payroll or who schedules too few people to work on a Saturday evening creates situations in which the most enthused, energetic employee can't succeed. Managers must attend to the basic job-related requirements of employees.

Leadership skills include the ability to identify and provide those rewards that the individual employee wants from membership in the organization. While fear and the threat of punishment may be powerful short-run motivators, the ability of the organization to fulfill employee needs is what yields energetic commitment to organizational goals in the long run. Other chapters have discussed the way to find the right people and to train them properly. This chapter focuses on the leadership skills that are necessary to energize people. Employee needs must be identified and satisfied if we want employees to give us their enthusiasm, commitment, and effective job performance. What we offer in return for these employee contributions are the inducements that they consider rewards. These are the factors that make the job fun, establish the fairness of how the rewards are distributed, and make the job interesting. We'll call these the eager factors.

The Eager Factors

What made the employee eager to join the organization in the first place? People join organizations to fulfill their needs. Though individual needs are infinitely varied, they usually include the need for financial security, the need to belong to an organization that matches and enhances one's self-image, the need to associate with people who think and feel the same way, and the need to grow and develop as a person and as an employee. A manager who can satisfy these needs within the workplace will have highly motivated people who want to stay with the organization. While every organization will have its misfits, most people work hard at doing what they love to do because the job satisfies their needs.

Financial Needs

People cannot concentrate on their jobs when they are hungry, worried about financial crises, or otherwise focused on money. Managers can diminish or eliminate these concerns in several ways. The most obvious is a pay scale ensuring that all employees are paid well enough to meet their basic needs. Managers must attend to the financial details that concern employees, especially the minimum-wage and entry-level people at the bottom of the pay scale for whom every dollar matters. These financially related details include scheduling enough hours to meet people's needs, scheduling around day-care or elder-care needs when possible, making employee discounts available, and providing information about economical health-benefit plans if the company does not provide or subsidize coverage. These and similar efforts can help fulfill the basic needs of employees who must watch their finances closely. Many guest-contact employees are at the minimum-wage level or a little above, and these financial needs frequently are primary concerns to these people who are responsible for success or failure in the moment of truth.

Organizations can help fulfill the longer-term financial needs of employees and motivate them at the same time by giving them stock or stock options, or selling them these instruments on favorable terms. Providing people with an opportunity to achieve an actual ownership interest in the company, as is done by Outback Steakhouses, Cracker Barrel, and other hospitality organizations, can be a powerful motivational tool. When people see a relationship between their own efforts and the success of "their" company's stock and their own personal wealth, the motivational impact can be strong.

Belonging Needs

Most people, especially younger people like teenagers, enjoy being a part of a group or team. Well-designed work groups can be helpful in managing employee direction and behavior in the workplace. Indeed, as studies at the Hawthorne Plant of the Western Electric Company showed many years ago, the sense of belonging or not belonging greatly influences what people will do or won't do in the workplace. The managerial focus here should be to work in harmony with the group to support each employee's effort to achieve the group goal, which will help achieve the organizational goal. The first managerial challenge in meeting employee belonging needs, then, is to identify those groups to which employees belong (not always obvious); the next is to identify group goals.


Most groups are formed to satisfy or fulfill some type of member need. A church group forms to provide for religious needs, a health group to provide for health needs, and a social group to provide for social needs. Social groups in the workplace form for a variety of reasons. People who work together tend to have things in common: what they do and who they do it with. They not only work together on the job but also tend to associate off the job. They have things in common to talk about, shared experiences and continuing reminders of their common basis for acquaintance by continual on-the-job relationships. Since the modern hospitality organization uses careful hiring criteria, these people also tend to share even more commonalities that bind them together as a group. They frequently are young, share similar values and beliefs, and have many personality traits in common. When you take similar people and put them together in a work setting, you have the basis for forming both a work group and a friendship group.


Another reason the group forms is the benefit that the group provides. Having the opportunity to share the dreams, ambitions, challenges, joys, and problems of life with someone else is important to most people. Groups give the individual a sympathetic ear, reassurance of self-worth, and help and assistance in times of individual challenge. Members look to their groups to affirm their worth, acknowledge their successes, and respect their achievements. Organizations that help groups do these things benefit by finding ways to incorporate the group goals into the organizational goals.

Achieving through the Group

If, in addition, groups offer members the opportunity to achieve something greater than themselves by being a part of the group, then the value of the group becomes greater than merely satisfying belonging needs. Membership in organizations with strong corporate cultures, whose purposes are respected by the society as a whole, is valuable to both group and individual. Asking the group to help accomplish the valued, respected organizational purpose becomes a powerful motivational tool for the organization and a primary means for keeping the individual and the group positively involved in the organization.


Magic Kingdom employees often say they want to work for Disney because they can bring such great joy to children of all ages. These cast members are committed to their work group and to the organization because they realize they can't do this wonderful social good alone. They believe they can create this magic for guests only through their participation in this work setting. If Disney calls a group of these people together and asks them to serve as a quality team to identify service quality problems and opportunities, they will work hard on behalf of that group's goal because they are so committed to the purpose of the organization.

The point is simple. People join groups to satisfy needs, and the group can satisfy some of each other's needs without any organizational help. But if the organization enables the group to satisfy additional or even higher-level needs, then the organization is going to get the support of the group and its members. While this sounds easy to do, it is not. Most organizations make no attempt to understand the relationships among the goals of the individual, the group, and the overall organization. Nor do most organizations know what they can do or stop doing to enhance the positive benefits of these relationships.

Groups and Teams

Table 7-1 sums up what work team characteristics are required to support a collection of people--a group--to function successfully as a work team. The hospitality manager can use these characteristics to help weak work teams be successful and improve the performance of adequate teams.

The Benefits of Teams

Building strong work teams is worth the effort. Organizations reap many benefits from supportive and productive teams.

Good Ideas

The organization gains access to the many good ideas that a team can generate by discussing and resolving problems affecting the team and the organization. Hospitality managers do not know everything nor are they capable of identifying the best answers to every guest's problem. Using team problem-solving processes provides a wealth of new ideas and frequently a better perspective than the manager alone might have. After all, those who deal with the guest and the problems that serving the guest may create know the details of those problems better than does the manager with multiple responsibilities.


Monitoring Member Behavior

Teams can also assist in the supervisory role of management by providing an ongoing monitoring of each team member's behavior and productivity. If the team has a common performance objective, then the team can better monitor and oversee each member's relative contribution than management itself can. The group and the group's approval will likely have a more important influence on the individual employee's behavior than will the supervisor.

Everybody Learns

Another important benefit for the organization using groups is helping everybody to learn more about the organization and what it does. By involving teams in solving problems and making decisions, the organization learns more about what it wants to do and how to do it, and the individual learns more about the job, why the job is done the way it is, what other team members contribute to the job's accomplishment, and the relationship of the job to the overall organizational purposes. Involving groups in decision making also forces the manager to understand clearly what the problem or issue is. After all, if you don't know what you're trying to do or why a particular issue is important, you can't explain it to anyone else very well. Furthermore, what better way is there to teach employees the reasons the jobs are done the way they are, the way those jobs relate to others across the organization, and how those jobs help achieve the organizational purpose than by involving the employees who do the jobs in the job-related decisions? Using team decision making helps the organization and its leadership to understand their own purposes, procedures, and reasons for doing things while it teaches the employees how to be more involved and accountable for their own work.

It's Our Decision

Team decision making leads to one more important benefit. When the team makes decisions for itself, it owns them. It understands them. It becomes responsible for making the decisions work and monitoring the outcomes. If the quality team at the hotel decides that too many dishes are breaking on the food-service carts while running over the tiled floor, it puts itself in the position of identifying the best solution and then making it work. In this example, the problem was caused by stacking the trays for food on top of one another without spacers. The team came up with rubber spacers between the trays and solved the problem. Since the team and not management came up with the solution, the team members, who were also the people pushing the carts, made sure they used the rubber bumpers and proved to themselves their solution worked. Such problems are too frequently "solved" by an industrial engineer who comes up with an elegant solution that nobody uses. The problem continues, and frustrated managers wonder what to do with uncooperative employees.

Other Potential Benefits

The use of teams sends all employees the message that they are trusted. Employee morale improves, absenteeism decreases, and organizational recruitment efforts are enhanced.

Possible Problems with Teams

Potential problems with teams are that they do not always work as fast as individuals do, they require new attitudes and leadership behaviors on the part of managers, and they cost money and time. In addition, teams should be limited to certain problems, situations, and tasks that lend themselves to team effort.

Takes More Time

Team decision making is not always the solution, and it can have disadvantages. Without question, team or group decision making takes more time than an experienced manager would take to decide how to solve a problem. Most people do not intuitively know either how to make decisions systematically nor how to collaborate in a team setting. Teaching people how to do these things adds more time to the time required to solve the problem. It takes time to teach group members what the problems are, why they occur, and how to work as a team to solve them. The team meetings themselves take time.

Mixed Messages for Managers

The second major challenge created by work-teams for decision making organizations is that managers and supervisors have to learn brand-new behaviors. Most were promoted because they were the best at doing whatever job they now supervise. The best salesperson becomes a sales manager, the best server becomes the head server, and so forth. If the organization tells Ellen Brown she is being made a manager because she is the best at doing her job, Ellen may be confused when the organization now tells her to coach a group that is going to make the decision instead of her. After all, she may wonder, why did the organization promote me if it didn't want me to make the decision? The message here is mixed, and many managers have a difficult time shifting gears to be coaches instead of doers.

The other aspect of this problem is based on fear. Managers wonder what their own futures will be when they see employees being empowered to make decisions. If the job of the manager is to oversee people working and to make decisions about how that work should be done, what happens to the manager's job once the team is empowered to make its own decisions and to oversee its own members? Many empowerment programs have not worked because middle managers, as a simple issue of job survival, have found ways to sabotage them.

Not Worth the Expense?

The third major problem with team decision making is that teams are neither cheap to use nor always effective. Taking people out of their jobs to make decisions has a cost associated with it. Furthermore, teams are incapable of making or making well entire categories of decisions. A team has a difficult time making decisions about issues beyond its group's concerns or knowledge. A group of casino croupiers, for example, would have a hard time making a good corporate strategic policy decision or a decision that has an impact on another group or unit within the organization because even if the croupiers had received some training in grasping the big picture, they probably would not know about or be able to see all the ramifications of the issues involved. Similarly, decisions that require technical expertise beyond that typically available to the involved employees will not likely be successful.

Other Potential Problems

"If our ideas are so good, why don't you pay us more?" Team members may get an inflated sense of their value to the organization and of their decision-making capability. "If our ideas are so good, why don't you use all of them?" Employees not on a team may feel left out and become resentful. Some team members may become freeloaders and not bear their part of the job. Finally, not everyone can work successfully in a team format, nor is every problem appropriate for a team solution.

When to Use Work Teams

An organization needs to determine the answers to four critical questions before it uses team-based decision making.

First, is management comfortable letting employees make decisions about their job responsibilities? While this sounds easy to answer, it is not. Many managers are uncomfortable letting go of their managerial prerogatives. Second, is management ready to let teams be accountable for their efforts and decisions? Since most managers are evaluated on the basis of their unit's performance, this is another hard step. If the manager is accountable for the decision, how can the manager be comfortable with the group making the decision that might come back to haunt the manager if it turns out poorly? Most people believe that if they have to be accountable for the results, they might as well make the decision themselves, and they have a hard time trusting someone or some group to make those decisions.

Third, is management ready to share the benefits of the decisions? If the group makes good decisions and saves the organization money, will management share the rewards with the group? In a related way, will management share the glory and other benefits that result from high levels of performance in an organization? If the team makes the decision that wins the boss the big bonus and the trip to Hawaii, will they ever work that hard on behalf of the organization (or that manager) again unless they too benefit in a meaningful way?

Finally, management must decide who learns and who gets promoted. If the group and its members don't get the opportunity to grow and develop, but they see management getting these opportunities as a result of the group's efforts, they will lose their interest in and enthusiasm for the team decision process. Management that wishes to use team decision making successfully must be ready to let the team and its membership participate in growth and development opportunities and organizational rewards. Managers must be willing to trust teams with the authority and responsibility for decision making.

While work teams provide an important benefit to the employee by providing a sense of belonging, effective work teams do more for their members. They provide a sense of self-worth, the opportunity to grow and develop, a means to recognize and share achievements and failures, and a way to reinforce member's values and beliefs. In brief, they help satisfy each group member's need to grow and develop as a person and as an employee.

Role Theory

Role theory is a way to explain how the group or team influences the behavior of its members. People behave in the roles they play in fairly predictable patterns that are influenced by others. A student behaves, for the most part, as a student is expected to, and a Hard Rock Cafe employee usually behaves as a Hard Rock Cafe employee is expected to. Roles are the parts we play in the social and work groups to which we belong. Employees play a variety of roles. A person may be a church member, a student, a parent, and a civic-group member as well as an employee. Each role has different expectations of the person and, while playing the role, the person is continuously influenced by the others watching the person behave. Guests or other employees may give a funny look or make a comment to a frowning hotel desk agent or receptionist. Anyone observing a mother ignoring her child in danger will scowl or even speak up. People continually tell us by word, facial expression, or deed how they think we should be behaving in a particular situation.

As seen in Figure 7-1, the playing of a role has two major elements: role senders and the role receiver or focal person. Role senders are all those who let us know what role we are to play and then try to tell us how to behave in performing the role. The instruction and training the boss sends, the verbal and nonverbal cues the coworkers and guests send, and the social norms that our society sends all help define the guest service role. The role receiver or focal person is us. We observe and receive all the expectations people are sending us and interpret them into the behavior we think people want from us. We then decide to comply or not with those expectations and act or don't act accordingly.


Role Conflicts

This continual process is full of potential and real conflicts. A person who is sent different role expectations by different people will feel conflict and confusion. If the guest expects one thing and the company policy requires another, the employee faces the difficult choice of determining which way to go, which role to play. Conflict can also occur when the supervisor sends out conflicting role expectations, when the role expectations conflict with the focal person's fundamental values or beliefs, and when the roles themselves come into conflict. If Sally's husband tells her to come home early for the children's birthday party and Sally's boss asks her to work an extra shift tonight, Sally will have a role conflict.

The Cast Member Role

Disney uses the concept of role in a unique way to enhance the nature of the job. By using the term cast member for all employees, Disney emphasizes the idea that everyone in the organizational cast is playing a role in a public performance. The terms on stage and off stage are also used to reinforce this notion in the minds of all employees. The idea that employees comprise a cast putting on a show has many organizational benefits, but perhaps the biggest is to get people to think of their jobs as roles and of what they are asked to do in those roles as part of a performance for their guests or audience. This mind-set gives new and greater importance to every job throughout the organization. Now, instead of thinking "I am merely a street sweeper," which may demean the employee's many years of education and experience, the street-sweeping cast member can look at the task as the playing of a role. In a theatrical production, nothing is demeaning or lowly about playing the role of a street sweeper. After all, you're not really a street sweeper but rather a cast member/actor doing an excellent job of playing a street sweeper. This attitude helps eliminate role conflicts. The distinction between the real you and what you're capable of doing or being in real life, on the one hand, and your skillful performance of the street sweeper's role is clear.

Staying "Up" through Role Playing

Role playing helps solve another major personal challenge that people involved in delivering services to guests face: how to stay "up" all the time. People who deal with people have to be good at performing what has been termed emotional labor. They need the skills and knowledge to perform the service, which may require some physical labor, but they also need whatever it takes to perform the service in a certain way. Hardly anyone smiles naturally all the time nor can anyone's natural response to a guest's needs always be sympathetic. But thinking of the job as playing a "role" in a theatrical performance can help decrease the personal wear and tear of this emotional labor. Instead of actually paying the emotional price of getting personally involved in every guest's needs, the employee can display the emotional response that would be required of someone in an acting job. The emotional labor expended in genuinely feeling the emotions that might seem appropriate to the many needs and problems of guests would wear anybody out long before a work day at the racquet club or convention hall or work night at the restaurant or motel was over. Thinking of the job as performing a role makes it possible for hospitality employees to perform well without becoming emotional wrecks.

The research on this topic suggests that role playing is actually better for the employee and the organization than genuine emotional involvement. According to Ashforth and Humphrey, "Given the repetitive and scripted nature of many service roles, one may develop habitual routines for ... acting such that emotional labor becomes relatively effortless." (9) Individuals who strongly identify with their organizational roles are apt to feel more authentic when they are conforming to role expectations, even if they are only acting to display rather than actually feeling the emotional involvement required of the role. (10) Further, acting like a certain type of person tends to commit one to becoming that type of person, especially if one volunteers to play the role to a public audience. (11)

The emphasis on being a cast member also encourages people to think of themselves as being on stage even when they are feeling low or distracted by other role expectations in their lives. If you come to work bothered by the fight you had with your significant other that morning, once you go "on stage" you can usually get into the role and leave your nonwork problems behind.

Clarifying the Role

Obviously managers need to spend time and energy in minimizing role conflict and maximizing role clarity. People like to know what is expected of them. When the organization and its leadership don't spend the necessary time clarifying the role expectations for the employee, the potential for conflict is great. Effective hospitality training programs clearly define their roles for employees and thereby minimize the conflicts they will have to face. When they have finished training and begin to serve guests, they should know their roles thoroughly. For example, when Disney cast members go "on stage" to perform, they know that the priority of the elements in the roles they play is safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency. Safety is never to be compromised. If a cast member has a choice of two actions, one safer and the other more showy, the cast member feels no role conflict in taking the safe action.


Teams need to grow and develop, but so do individuals. One great asset that a team provides to its members is the opportunity to grow within the group setting. But the organization must provide additional opportunities for its members to satisfy this important need. The most widely discussed strategy for doing so is empowerment. Although becoming empowered may add to the fun of the job for employees, and they may think it only fair that they be given some responsibility for making decisions related to their own work, the main benefit of empowerment is that the job offering opportunity for growth and development though empowerment is a more interesting job. The organization also benefits from interested, empowered employees. As Norman Brinker said, "You can achieve so much more by empowering people to achieve on their own. Don't be too hands-on." (12) The empowered server can personalize the service experience to meet or exceed each guest's expectations and can take whatever steps are necessary to prevent or recover from service failure. On those complementary ends can hinge organizational success or failure.

What Is Empowerment?

Empowerment is the assignment of decision-making responsibility to the individual. (13) It requires sharing information and organizational knowledge that enables the empowered employees to understand and contribute to organizational performance, rewarding them based on the organization's performance, and giving them the authority to make decisions that influence organizational outcomes. (14) Empowerment is broader than the traditional concepts of delegation, decentralization, and participatory management. Empowerment can stretch decision responsibility beyond a specific decision area to include decision responsibility for the entire job and for knowing how the performance of that job fits within the organizational purpose and mission.

Some organizations talk the talk of employee decision input without giving employees any real power and authority to implement decisions. The purpose of employee empowerment is not only to ensure that effective decisions are made by the right employees but to provide a mechanism by which responsibility for job-related decisions is vested either in individuals or in work teams. (15) Empowerment also means that management is willing to share relevant information about and control over factors that impinge upon effective job performance.

How Much Empowerment?

Empowerment is not an absolute; it has degrees. Managers may find that more is not necessarily better. For example, a manager could choose to provide higher degrees of empowerment for some individuals and teams doing certain tasks than for others. Indeed, even within a given individual's job or a given group's task responsibilities, different decision areas could be empowered to different degrees. A restaurant chain, for example, may wish to empower its individual restaurant managers with complete authority to negotiate prices within a certain level of variation to meet competition. However, the same organization might not be willing to let the same managers make even minor modifications in the menu.

The Job Content/Context Grid

Managers may need help in seeing how to use this concept in their own organizations. They may also need help in managing the delicate balance between giving employees control over their own work processes while retaining some supervisory control over what employees do. What would happen, for example, if management empowered a work group by assigning both authority and responsibility over the job and the employees decided not do anything at all related to the organization's goals or even the goals of the work group next to it? Obviously, empowerment must occur within some limits, and where to place them becomes a major challenge in implementing any empowerment strategy.

An organization wanting to empower its employees must first analyze its jobs. All jobs have two dimensions: content and context. Job content represents the tasks and procedures necessary for doing that job. Job context is much broader. It is why the organization needs that job done, how one job interacts with related jobs, and how the job fits into the overall organizational mission, goals, objectives, and job setting.

Empowerment in Stages

Managers trying to use empowerment will also find it helpful to view decision making not simply as an act of making a choice among alternatives but instead as a five-stage process: identifying the problem, discovering alternative solutions, evaluating the pros and cons of those alternatives, making the choice, and, finally, implementing and following up on the impact of that choice. Employees can be empowered to participate in one, some, or all of these stages.

Figure 7-2 shows a grid with the context of the job on the vertical axis and the content of the job on the horizontal. The horizontal axis shows the way in which the employee's or team's decision-making responsibility over job content progressively increases in relationship to the decision-making process. For example, at the far left of the figure in the first step of the decision-making process, employees have little responsibility, but as one moves to the right, the level of responsibility and decision involvement increases. Similarly, as one moves up the vertical axis, responsibility and involvement over decisions related to job context increase. A manager seeking to empower employees may wish to increase decision responsibility over job content, job context, or both. The five points identified on the grid allow a better understanding of varying strategies for empowerment available to managers.

Point A (No Discretion) represents the traditional assembly-line type of highly routine and repetitive job. This is the classic fast-food job, designed by someone other than the worker and monitored by someone else. No decision-making responsibility is associated with this job in terms of either job content or job context. The employee is used from the neck down. J. B. Schor has noted that the most stressful workplaces are electronic sweatshops and assembly lines where a demanding pace is coupled with virtually no individual discretion. (16) A good hospitality illustration would be the loaders on a high-volume ride like a famous roller coaster. The job is highly routinized, repetitive, and boring. It has no variety, and loaders have no discretion about how to do it. The contact with the customer is so brief that loaders don't have enough time to interact with customers in any meaningful way to break up the task performance.

Point B (Task Setting) represents the essence of many empowerment programs used today. Here the worker is given a great deal of decision responsibility for the job content and little for the context. The worker is empowered to make decisions about the best way to get the assigned task accomplished. In these cases, management defines the mission and goals, and the worker is empowered to find the best way to reach them. Management hopes that the empowered workers will apply their job knowledge and intellect to discover ways to improve what they do in their jobs. Many hospitality jobs are in this category; the guest service employee must do the job as designed but has flexibility to do it in a variety of ways to meet the needs and expectations of varied guests. Even if the same meal comes out of the kitchen for 100 different diners, the way in which that meal is served and the interaction patterns that take place between the server and the diner make each occasion somewhat different and potentially interesting. Since tipped positions are guest contact jobs, like waiting tables in a restaurant, the power of guests to reward or not to reward is always an additional incentive to provide an excellent delivery that meets each guest's unique requirements.


Point B represents a significant departure from Point A because employees are totally involved in making decisions about job content. Jobs at Point B can be redesigned by employees or even teams of employees. They may redesign their tasks to add more content or develop a variety of new employee skills. In addition, they are now energized and free to decide how to do their work, get more feedback, and understand their jobs more fully. Many Point B employees find such enriched jobs more motivating and satisfying, leading them to do higher-quality work. Even when management confines empowerment to job-content decisions, employee motivation may be enhanced for those who strongly value feelings of accomplishment and growth. (17) The success of the Point B strategy, however, will partly depend on factors beyond employee control, such as service delivery system design and organizational structure, guest expectations, reward systems, and top-management support.

More will be said about Point B and the hospitality industry in a moment.

Point C (Participatory Empowerment) represents an area more typical of autonomous work groups that are given some decision-making involvement in both job content and job context. Such groups usually participate in problem identification, alternative search and analysis, and recommending the best alternative in job content. They participate similarly in job-context decisions. While research is sparse, some evidence suggests higher job satisfaction and productivity in such groups. The best-known Point C American success story is the Saturn plant of General Motors in Spring Hill, Tennessee, where autonomous work teams have been established to emphasize teamwork, efficient use of resources, and a continuing effort to improve quality. The teams at Saturn operate at the mid-range of the decisionmaking process along both the job content and job context dimensions.

In the early 1990s, the Ritz-Carlton hotels set a goal: "the revolution/transformation of hotel operations through the implementation of Self-Directed Work Teams (SDWTs)." (18) The organization felt that SDWTs could improve processes, increase efficiency, and heighten guest and employee satisfaction. After a two-year pilot project, SDWTs were instituted in Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts all over the world.

As described by the Ritz-Carlton, an SDWT is a group of employees who are responsible for a complete work process, including:

* sharing various management or leadership functions

* planning and improving work processes

* developing team goals and mission

* scheduling and payroll

* reviewing team performance

* coaching and training fellow team members

* ordering and purchasing of supplies and maintenance of inventories

The Ritz-Carlton believes that

SDWTs give true authority and accountability for the success of the business to the people who run the business. They take responsibility for the quality of their products and services.... SDWTs liberate and unleash the creative potential and entrepreneurial abilities of employees. The result is an improvement in quality and subsequent rise in guest, owner and employee job satisfaction.

In addition, SDWTs free managers from the day-to-day operational aspects of a hotel or work area. Rather than working in the system, managers will work on the system, providing vision and direction.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is service-driven and therefore, employee-driven. SDWTs create a work force of multi-skilled individuals performing broad duties rather than unskilled, easily replaceable people in narrowly defined jobs.

Point D (Mission Defining) represents an unusual situation and one seldom discussed in the literature of empowerment. Here employees are empowered to decide on job context but not the content. An example might be a team in a unionized maintenance operation that is given the task of deciding whether or not an outside vendor might do a particular task more effectively than current employees. This decision to outsource would alter the mission of the unit dramatically. The union contract or the current technology may mandate the continuation of current job content and specify which occupational categories should perform subtasks if the task is retained in-house. If management assures the union employees of continued employment, an empowerment strategy to maximize employee control of the job context might well be an effective way to implement such a dramatic change.

Point E (Self-Management) represents an area in which employees are given total decision-making authority for both job content and job context. Giving employees this much authority requires considerable faith in their ability to use their new-found empowerment in ways that will contribute to the organization's effectiveness. It requires extensive employee involvement in the development of the organization's mission and goals, and confidence that employees are ready, willing, and able to make decisions about their work that will result in wise, intelligent, and appropriate contributions to the organization's objectives. Empowering a person to make both job content and context decisions that optimally respond to changing environmental conditions, technological innovations, and competitive challenges is the ultimate expression of trust. For obvious reasons, few companies are comfortable permitting many people, other than those in the top-management suite or high-level salespeople, to operate at the self-management level.

Point E Benefits

The few available illustrations of the Point E empowerment level credit it with many positive benefits, including higher productivity, better attendance, less turnover, and improvements in both product and service quality and employee work-life quality. One example is Chaparral Steel where supervisors have responsibility for hiring, training, and assigning of their own new employees. (19) Chaparral employees are asked how their jobs can be redesigned to "add more value." Self-management teaches employees to compare their outputs to their goals and to administer their own reinforcement to sustain commitment and performance.

Self-management may be achieved with or without formally designated work teams. A good example of the latter is W. L. Gore and Associates, manufacturers of Goretex. This company exists without titles, hierarchy, or any of the conventional structures usually associated with a company of its size and sales of approximately $1 billion a year. The company has been highly successful and profitable for more than 30 years. Growth has been financed without debt. Empowerment at Gore is nearly total since employees have decision-making authority and responsibility for both job context and content. The culture and norms of the organization support employee empowerment. There is no fixed, assigned authority, and associates work without structure or management.

Potential Point E Situations

Self-management may not be the appropriate level of empowerment for most organizations or even most employees. An incremental process may be more appropriate. When asked whether companies other than his could use self-management, B11 Gore, president of W. L. Gore and Associates, stated that it works best when "put in place by a dynamic entrepreneur or a start-up company." (20) Established companies might find it very difficult to use self-management because too many hierarchies would be destroyed. When you remove titles and positions and allow people to follow whoever they want, they may want to follow someone other than the person who has been in charge. Gore's success in implementation illustrates the importance of the organizational structure in making empowerment strategies succeed. The Gore company culture emphasizes teamwork, mutual support, freedom, motivation, independent effort, and commitment to the overall system.

Point B and the Hospitality Industry

Point B empowerment perfectly suits many hospitality organizations and many hospitality employees. The organizations design the jobs and expect employees to do the jobs as designed. Some organizations--perhaps especially in the fast-food area--expect employees to do the job strictly by the numbers. But the benchmark organizations empower employees to provide service in a variety of ways, to meet the needs and expectations of varied guests. Even if the same meal comes out of the kitchen for 100 different diners, the way in which that meal is served and the interaction patterns that take place between the server and the diner at the moments of truth can produce a so-so experience or a wow experience.

Here is how Point B empowerment works at Southwest Airlines. CEO Herb Kelleher says, "I can't anticipate all of the situations that will arise at the stations across our system. So what we tell our people is, 'Hey, we can't anticipate all these things; you handle them the best way possible. You make a judgment and use your discretion; we trust you'll do the right thing. If we think you've done something erroneous, we'll let you know--without criticism, without backbiting.'" (21)

All in all, it can be said that a Point B empowerment level is the most suitable for many frontline jobs in the hospitality industry. It gives servers the flexibility to meet and exceed the guest's expectations and to prevent and recover from service failures.

Empowerment Implementation

Successful implementation of an empowerment program requires knowledge of appropriate strategies and key ingredients, and of situations and people who can benefit from empowerment's potential.


Implementation of empowerment should begin by focusing on decisions related to job content, then gradually moving through the various decision-making stages from problem identification through implementation/follow-up. Later, after employees and managers become comfortable with empowerment in job content, increasing levels of empowerment in job context could similarly be added by raising the level of decision-making authority from problem identification up through implementation and follow-up. At each step, management could determine what difficulties were created, how they should be addressed, and whether or not the individuals or teams were ready, able, and trained to move on to the next stage of decision involvement and responsibility. Alternatively, a company might empower employees to address problem identification and development of alternatives simultaneously for both job content and job context, much as was done at the Saturn plant.

For either of these approaches or any other mid-range strategies, management needs to determine first where it would like to be on the grid and then develop a plan to move its employees gradually toward that point. The grid simply illustrates the stages of employee empowerment, which allows managers to decide what level of empowerment their organization is ready for and what can be done to implement that desired degree of involvement in making job-related decisions.

Key Ingredients

The four key ingredients to any successful empowerment program are:

1. Training in knowledge areas, training in decision making, and, if empowering a group (see work team discussion earlier), training in group interaction.

2. Measurable goals or standards, so empowered employees themselves have a means to test whether or not the decisions they make are good or bad.

3. Methods of measuring progress toward goals, so empowered employees can tell if what they're doing is heading in the direction of the job goal. Empowered employees need yardsticks so they can tell by themselves if what they're doing is heading toward the goal or away from it.

4. An incentive system to reward the employees for making good decisions and to make it worth their while, both financially and in terms of other eager factors, to take on decision responsibility.

Limitations and Potentials

Of course, there are some organizational limitations. Employee empowerment may be less appropriate if (1) the basic business strategy emphasizes low-cost, high-volume operations, (2) the tie to most customers is short term, (3) technology is simple and routine, (4) the business environment is highly predictable, and (5) employees have low growth needs, low social needs, and weak interpersonal skills. Alternatively, employee empowerment can be highly successful and rewarding under the following circumstances, and note how many of them characterize the hospitality industry! If (1) service is customized or personalized, (2) customer relationships are long term, (3) technology is complex, (4) the environment is unpredictable, and (5) employees have high growth needs, social needs, and strong interpersonal skills, the potential gains from employee empowerment can be significant. (22) Except perhaps for complex technology, and assuming (with respect to point 5) that employees are chosen with care, most guest contact situations in hospitality would seem ripe to enjoy the benefits of employee empowerment.

Empowerment: Not for All

Within all organizations, including hospitality organizations, some departments, employees, or jobs may be better suited for employee empowerment than others. Managers hoping to gain empowerment's benefits could initially implement a limited form of empowerment in areas where the match appears potentially fruitful. From here, problems could be worked out and the empowerment process gradually expanded. Indeed, those companies engaged in total quality management (TQM) efforts, organizational reengineering, or attempts to reenergize their corporate culture's commitment to service through the introduction of more participatory management styles may all find the incremental strategy useful.

Since the workforce is so diverse, some employees will be better suited for empowerment than others. Part-time employees or contract (temporary) employees may not be interested enough in the goals of the organization or their long-term relationship with the organization to be good candidates for involvement programs. The art of good management is to determine what degree of empowerment to extend to different employees. The grid is a useful first step in thinking about designing and implementing employee empowerment processes, which will always be a matter of degree.

Finally, empowerment can lead to problems if empowered employees make decisions that are disadvantageous to other employees. For example, if a desk agent allows guests to check out two hours late, the housekeeping staff may have difficulty in preparing the room for the next guest, especially if another empowered desk agent allows the next guest to check in early. Empowering one employee must not be allowed to affect other employees negatively in the performance of their jobs.

Motivation, Empowerment, and Retention

The successful hospitality manager knows the vital importance of motivation and empowerment, if the organization is going to retain the employees it worked so hard to recruit and train. Excellent employees sometimes build strong relationships with long-time repeat guests. These relationships motivate guests to come back again and again; seeing those familiar employee faces adds value to their guest experience. If the hospitality organization cannot retain these excellent employees, the experience of repeat guests, so important to organizational success, is diminished.


The final important idea that managers should understand with regard to motivating job performance involves authority or direction. Managers who wish others to work for them have to understand why people follow orders and do what managers ask them to do. To many managers, authority is the power to yell at someone because you are the boss. These managers are comfortable with the historically accepted idea that the boss tells subordinates to jump and lets them ask how high on the way up. These managers are less comfortable with the fact that many times they get little or no cooperation, high turnover, low morale, and a hostile work environment.

Because the research is so convincing that the employee's attitude directly influences the guest's attitude, hospitality organizations have no place for this type of manager. An unhappy worker creates an unhappy customer. While a happy worker may not single-handedly be able to ensure a positive guest experience, an enthusiastic, concerned, and happy employee does make any guest experience better. How, then, does the hospitality manager or supervisor get people to accept direction and work hard on behalf of the organization?

Authority-Acceptance Theory

According to classic management writer Chester Barnard's authority-acceptance theory, authority is the quality of an order that causes someone else to accept the order and to do as ordered. (23) If someone gives you an order to bring a keg of beer from the cooler and you do it, that order has authority for you. If you do not do it, that order does not have authority for you. So, whether an order has authority or not is determined by the order receiver, not the sender or "person in authority." In much the same way that value is defined by the guest and rewards by the employee, authority is always accepted by the employee or there is no authority.

The factors influencing the acceptance of managerial direction lie in the nature of the sender and receiver, their relationships to the organization and to each other, and in the nature of the communication itself. The manager must understand and pay attention to these factors that influence employee acceptance of direction. Just as many governments must rely on the consent of the governed, so too must hospitality organizations.

Conditions for Accepting Direction

Four preconditions must be met before an employee will accept managerial direction. Even if the preconditions are met, the employee may still not accept the order. But if they are not met, the employee either will not or cannot accept the order.

1. The employee must understand the order. Otherwise, compliance with the order is impossible. Many employees have listened carefully and then later wondered what the boss was talking about or what the boss wanted done. Many employees have thought they understood an order and then found that they did not, because the order was too confusing or too general. Area Regional Supervisor Jones tells Store Manager Smith, "Get rid of the trouble with the refrigerator at the Garden Grill Restaurant." Smith removes the troublesome refrigerator, scraps it, and replaces it with a new one, when Jones really wanted the old one repaired. The

two employees had different meanings for "Get rid of the trouble." Even though they both "understood" the order, their understandings were different. A manager who has not checked to see if the communication was understood has not exercised authority. Employees who are supposed to comply with the order cannot do what they do not understand.

2. The employee must believe that the order is consistent with the organization's goals. An airline flight attendant notices that the exit to a plane has oil on the floor, which might endanger the safety of deplaning passengers. The pilot tells the attendant to allow the passengers off the plane anyway. Because so many training sessions have stressed the primary importance of passenger safety, the attendant may well ignore the pilot. Without some reasonable explanation for departing from safety standards, the attendant would not see the order as consistent with the organization's goals. All experienced managers know employees will not usually follow such orders. If an order appears to conflict with an organizational goal, accepted policy, tradition, or past practice, the manager must spend a moment to explain why this time is different.

A special violation of this precondition is the role conflict caused by conflicting orders from two or more different managers. Both orders are sent down, but they cannot both support the organization's effort. The employee will either accept one order and reject the other, or do nothing.

3. The employee must believe that the order is consistent with the employee's own goals. This precondition is related to whatever reasons the employee had for affiliating with the organization in the first place. If carrying out the order will result in the organization's becoming less attractive to the employee, the order will be disobeyed or (more usually) evaded. Such orders are inconsistent with the employee's personal motives, which are the basis for accepting any orders at all. If the order is totally inconsistent with goals or principles that are important to the employee, and the order cannot be ignored or avoided, the employee will probably resign. Accepting or rejecting managerial or supervisory direction is a result of the employee carefully weighing the balance between the inducements offered and the contributions expected in return. If inducements offered are equal to or more than the contributions expected, orders will be accepted. If required contributions outweigh inducements, orders will not be carried out.

Although each employee may have some unique goals, most employees want a job that is fun, fair, and interesting. To whatever extent organizational leaders can provide these inducements, and build them into the job situation, the organization will promote the willing acceptance of managerial direction by employees.

4. The employee must be able, physically and mentally, to carry out the order. This precondition may seem too obvious to mention. Yet we are sometimes asked to do the impossible. A woman with a bad back is told to carry heavy cases of liquor. An employee allergic to detergent is told to take a temporary assignment in the hotel laundry. The manager who gives orders without knowing each employee's capabilities soon finds out that if it can't be done, it won't.

Securing Compliance with Orders

Once the preconditions to the acceptance of authority have been met, how do managers actually secure compliance with orders meeting the preconditions? The compliance necessary for a smoothly functioning organization comes about for three reasons.

1. Effective managers issue orders that comply with the four preconditions. The effective executive issues orders that are accepted. Orders that do not comply with the preconditions are not obeyed. Poor managers ignore the preconditions primarily for one reason: They don't know any better. They think their formal organizational positions give them the right to issue commands of all types. Many managers believe they have absolute authority over their subordinates. This belief is confirmed by many organizational experiences in which their subordinates do indeed comply with their orders.

However, effective managers soon learn that "absolute" authority is absolute only as long as the four preconditions are not violated. If managers meet the preconditions, employees allow them to be authoritarian and autocratic. Once the manager begins to ignore the preconditions, employees begin to ignore the orders.

2. People joining an organization expect to do job-related tasks. They expect to be given directions, instructions, and sometimes commands regarding certain aspects of their behavior in the organization. They obey orders within these "zones of acceptance" without question. Orders fall into three classes: clearly acceptable, clearly unacceptable, and questionable.

If Lois Evans tells her secretary, Bill Elliot, to come into her office and take some dictation, the order would fall within Elliot's zone of acceptance. Elliot knew when he took the job that Evans might tell him to take dictation. On the other hand, if Evans asks Elliot to come over to her apartment for drinks and dictation, Elliot would probably refuse. He would not consider such overtime work outside the office to be an acceptable part of the job.

Many orders fall into a third area: the questionable zone. If Evans asks Elliot to make the coffee, or get a birthday card for Mr. Evans, or some other task that is not part of the job but is not really outrageous, Elliot may be unsure about whether to follow the order and might have to think about it.

The width of the acceptance zone depends on the extent to which the organization fulfills the member's needs. A fanatical member of a cult might be willing to do anything the cult asked. There may be literally nothing that the fanatic would not do to advance the organization's cause. Most organizational members, however loyal and hard working they may be, are not nearly so fanatical. The essential point here is that the greater the benefits or inducements that the organization provides to its members, the more willing they are to accept orders from the organizational leadership.

Tales of Disney's early days report employees who worked incredibly long hours with energy and enthusiasm because they were so committed to what the organization was trying to accomplish. The story of one employee is illustrative:
   Everyone wanted so badly for Walt's wonderland to work, they gave
   it their all. "I ran my ass off," says one veteran. "I lost fifteen
   pounds in the first sixty days. You never walked; you got behind
   the scenes and ran. There was always a fire to put out. I went
   fourteen months straight without a day off." (24)

Employees this enthused and committed may be ready to accept even the most unreasonable requests. When the orders fall into the doubtful zone, they usually give the organization the benefit of the doubt. Effective managers find ways to keep the inducements/contributions balance tilted heavily in favor of the employee. They know what inducements are available, try to identify those that are important to the employee, and provide that array of inducements.

3. Most group members want "their" organization to run smoothly. If it does, they can gain the benefits that they anticipated when they joined. Therefore, group members will bring social pressure to bear on any member unwilling to accept authority. Employees realize they cannot achieve their own personal goals if the organization fails. An organization cannot succeed if its members will not accept authority and take orders. Therefore, any member who denies an order or will not cooperate represents a threat to those members who identify with and work toward organizational goals for their own reasons. Accordingly, the group takes an active interest in maintaining every member's compliance with organizational commands.

The informal organization plays this important enforcement role in support of the formal organization's authority structure. If the informal organization wants a decision implemented, it is usually implemented. If a decision is not agreeable to the informal organization, its members can find many effective ways of holding up implementation.

The individual gives the manager authority; the organization gives managers power. Organizations promote their best and most expert employees and give them control over resources, put them in key positions where they control information (a key resource), and give them titles to remind everyone who is higher ranking. The more important the rewards which a manager controls are to an employee, the more power that manager will have to get that employee to accept authority. All employees seek certain types and amounts of inducements from their organizations; that's why they signed on. The manager able to provide those inducements can elicit effort, productivity, enthusiasm, and other contributions that the hospitality organization seeks from all employees. Determining the resources that are important to an individual or a group of individuals is a key responsibility of the manager seeking to retain the enthusiastic commitment of the people who work in that manager's area of responsibility. Making it possible for the employees to meet their financial, belonging, and growth needs while working for the organization is one key way.

Lessons Learned

1. Set clear, measurable standards that define expectations for job performance. Constantly reinforce these standards by setting examples; let employees know that the standards are important; reward employees when they meet them.

2. Walk the talk; set the example. Employees respond more to what you do than to what you say.

3. Make all tasks and goals measurable; people like to know how well they're doing.

4. Pay attention to communication; people can't do what they don't know about or understand.

5. Be fair, ethical, and equitable. People need to feel they are being treated equitably. If you don't show people why differentials are made between employees, they will assume the worst.

6. Reward behaviors you want, and don't reward behaviors you don't want.

7. Praise, praise, praise. Look for reasons to reinforce people doing the right things. Privately re-educate and coach those doing the wrong things.

8. Show employees the relationships between their personal goals, group goals, and organizational

goals. Find "win-win-wins."

9. People give you the right to lead them. Know how to earn that right.

10. Don't just support your frontline employees; trust them as well.

11. Give people a chance to grow and get better, and then reward them for it.

12. Your frontline employees are heroes; make their jobs fun, fair, and interesting.

Review Questions

1. If you were employed in the past, what did you want from your jobs other than a paycheck, if anything?

A. If you are employed now, have your job expectations changed from those of the past?

B. What are your job expectations from the position you hope to hold in ten years?

C. How if at all do your responses to these questions match up with what hospitality employees typically want from their jobs?

2. If you have been employed, can you recall times when you were doing a good job and were ignored by your boss because that person was giving complete attention to another employee who was complaining or doing a bad job? If so, what managerial lesson does this teach you? How would you use that lesson to determine or change your own managerial style?

3. What does it mean to be empowered? Give some situations in which you were empowered.

A. How did you handle it? How did you feel?

B. Compare those situations to a few in which you were not empowered. How did you handle those, and how did you feel?

C. If you were a hotel or restaurant manager, can you think of some job functions that you would hesitate to empower your employees to perform?

D. Why is it particularly important to empower the frontline people who interact with hospitality guests? Or is it?

4. Give examples of effective and ineffective teams of which you have been a part. What made them different? How were the leader characteristics related to team effectiveness or ineffectiveness?

5. Consider a restaurant meal, in which much of the service is provided one-on-one, server to guest. How important is teamwork to the success of the guest experience?

6. The authority-acceptance theory suggests that people must accept authority or it does not really exist. Do you agree or disagree?

A. Give examples of situations you have been in where people did not follow direct orders. Was the refusal because the conditions for authority acceptance detailed in the chapter were not met, or for other reasons?

B. What do managers need to know to ensure that their authority is accepted?

C. How does all that relate to managing the guest experience in hospitality organizations?

D. Does authority-acceptance theory seem to you to have more or less relevance to the hospitality industry as compared to most industries?


1. Find a hospitality organization that seems to have succeeded in motivating its frontline employees in guest service to give outstanding service. How do they do it? If you or your friends work for organizations that do not sufficiently motivate you, what are they doing or not doing that causes you to be unmotivated?

2. Find an organization that seems to try to make its hospitality jobs fun and interesting. What do they do, and how well does it work? If you or your friends have jobs that do not provide fun and are not interesting, why is that so? Does the organization seem to care whether you are interested and having fun? Why or why not?

3. Interview three line employees from two different hospitality organizations and find out what motivates them.
Case Studies

Hartsell Hotels

While he was still in college, Bill Hartsell decided that he
wanted to build and own hotels When he graduated, he borrowed some
money, bought a bankrupt property, and created the first Hartsell
Hotel. The hotel presented constant problems, but Bill was highly
motivated and worked twelve to sixteen hours a day, six or seven
days a week. He did as much of the work as he could himself, from
making beds to preparing light meals in the hotel coffee shop.

The hard work paid off. Bill succeeded with his original hotel,
bought two more, and increased his staff accordingly. He made a
determined effort to hire young people, old people, women,
minorities, and the handicapped, and he paid them as well as he
could. Bill felt a genuine sense of responsibility to his employees
and to the community. After five years, Bill had 300 employees.

Bill hired three recent hospitality graduates, intending to move
them into responsible management positions after a training period.
At his first meeting with them, Bill made his position plain: "No
one at Hartsell Hotels works harder than I do. I'm the first to
arrive and the last to leave. I work most weekends. I'm paying you
well. I'm offering you a chance for rapid advancement. But don't
think in terms of a 40-hour work week. I want you to work as hard
as I do and act as if this business were your own. Is that clear?"
In unison the three responded, "Yes, sir, Mr. Hartsell."

Three months later they had all left and taken jobs with
Marriott, Radisson, and Ritz-Carlton.

1. What, if anything, was wrong with Mr. Hartsell's

2. Were his expectations for his new employees unrealistic? If
so, why?

3. What inconsistencies, if any, do you see between the goals of
the three new employees and Mr. Hartsell's goals?

4. Could those inconsistencies have been resolved? How?

Farney Spa and Fish Camp

Farney Spa and Fish Camp has found its niche; it caters to women
who want to combine the facilities of a luxury spa with fishing
opportunities. Sally Blade, supervisor in charge of fishing guides
at Farney Spa and Fish Camp, has a problem with one of the fishing
guides. All guides are supposed to be at work by 5:30 A.M. They
must have their skiffs ready for operation by 6:30 A.M. But Mary
Lou Day is almost always late for work. She arrives any time
between 5:40 and 6:15 A.M. Once she gets to work, she is excellent.
She is easily the best guide in the camp and always gets her boat
prepared early, even after arriving late. She is qualified for a
promotion except that she has not been in her present position long
enough. She understands and accepts that situation, but she hopes
to move up into management some day.

Day's frequent tardiness is causing problems. Other guides,
without Day's willingness or ability, are using Day's lateness to
justify their own. Sally Blade feels she cannot crack down on the
other guides without cracking down on Day as well. Sally has had
several talks with Mary Lou. She always promises to do better, but
she never does. Sally has even suggested a different reporting and
leaving time for Mary Lou, to accommodate fishing parties that
don't like to head out onto the lake so early, but Mary Lou does
not like the idea of being treated differently. "After all," she
says, "I always get my skiff ready on time, my guests like the
service I provide, and I always get my boat back and cleaned up by
quitting time, don't I?" Mary Lou has even suggested that she may
quit if the organization cannot be "flexible enough to let one good
employee be a few minutes late every so often, without bugging me
about it. There are other fish camps on this lake, you know."

1. Mary Lou Day is Sally Blade's best fishing guide. Is Mary Lou
justified in asking that Sally "cut her some slack"? Should Sally

2. If you think Mary Lou should meet the same work requirements
that are imposed on the other guides, how would you motivate her to
do so?

Jubilee Hotels Corp.

In the mid-1990s, Jubilee Hotels Corp. was having problems with
negative worker attitudes and low productivity at its Hartwell,
Alabama, hotel. To turn things around, JHC decided to change the
operation of the Hartwell hotel completely. The hotel would be run
with a minimum of supervision. The employees themselves would take
over such traditional management prerogatives as making job
assignments, scheduling coffee breaks, interviewing prospective
employees, and even deciding on pay raises.

The new system eliminated several layers of management and
supervisory personnel and assigned three primary areas of
responsibility--front desk, housekeeping, and office duties--to
self-managing teams of 7 to 14 workers per shift. The former middle
managers, divided among the primary areas, retained some
supervisory authority but had not nearly as much as before. The
workers rotated between the dull and the interesting jobs. The
teams made all necessary management decisions.

The new system was a success in many ways. Unit costs of 10
percent less than under the old system translated into a savings of
$2 million per year. Turnover was only 5 percent, and the hotel
went two years, eight months under this new approach. From the
humanistic standpoint, quality of work life and economic results
were good.

Notwithstanding the plan's success, by 1999 the hotel began the
transition back to a traditional organizational and management
system, as an accompaniment to a major expansion. JHC introduced
more specialized job classifications and more supervisors, and
reduced opportunities for employee participation. The company added
seven management positions to the hotel, including controller,
engineering manager, and services manager. Management took back the
right to make decisions about pay raises.

Professor Andrew Stubbs analyzed what had happened at Hartwell
for his hospitality class: "The basic problem was that in this
functional organization, many managers became nervous about what
functions they would keep after the hotel workers themselves were
given so many responsibilities. In addition, they resented being
left out of things; upper-level management's enthusiasm for
enriching the jobs of the workers didn't take into account the
feelings of the middle managers. Where was their enrichment?"

1. Do you agree with the professor's assessment of what went

2. What does the Jubilee Hotel experience tell you about
applying work team, enrichment, and incentives principles in real

Additional Readings

Bettencourt, Lance A., and Stephen W. Brown. 1997. Contact Employees: Relationships Among Workplace Fairness, Job Satisfaction and Prosocial Behaviors. Journal of Retailing 73(1):39-61.

Borchgrevink, Carl P. 1997. Leader-Member Exchange: Paying Attention to Immediate Subordinate Pays Off. FIU Hospitality Review 15(1):97-102.

Bowen, David E., and Edward E. Lawler, III. 1995. Empowering Service Employees. Sloan Management Review 36(4):73-84.

Brymer, R. A. 1991. Employee Empowerment: A Guest-Driven Leadership Strategy. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 32(May):58-68.

Dover, Kyle. 1999. Avoiding Empowerment Traps. Management Review 88(1):51-55.

Groves, Jim, Mary B. Gregoire, and Ronald Downey. 1995. Relationship Between the Service Orientation of Employees and Operational Indicators in a Multi-unit Restaurant Corporation. Hospitality Research Journal 19(3):33-44.

Haskins, Mark E., Jeanne Liedtk, and John Rosenblum. 1998. Beyond Teams: Toward an Ethic of Collaboration. Organizational Dynamics 26(4):34-50.

Lashley, C. 1995. Towards an Understanding of Employee Empowerment in Hospitality Services. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 7(1):27-32.

Mohr, L. A. and Bitner M. J. 1995. The Role of Employee Effort in Satisfaction with Service Transactions. Journal of Business Research 32(3):239-252.

Quinn, Robert E., and Gretchen M. Spreitzer. 1997. The Road to Empowerment: Seven Questions Every Leader Should Consider. Organizational Dynamics 26(2):37-49.

Schlesinger, Leonard A., and James L. Heskett. 1991. Enfranchisement of Service Workers. California Management Review 33(4):83-100.

Sparks, Beverly, and Graham Bradley. 1997. Antecedents and Consequences of Perceived Service Provider Effort in the Hospitality Industry. Hospitality Research Journal 20(3):17-34.

Sparrowe, R. 1994. Empowerment in the Hospitality Industry: An Exploration of Antecedents and Outcomes. Hospitality Research Journal 17(3):51-74.

Swan, John E., and Michael R. Bowers. 1998. Services Quality and Satisfaction: The Process of People Doing Things Together. Journal of Services Marketing 12(1):59-72.

Tannenbaum, Scott I., Rebecca L. Beard, and Hal G. Gueutal. 1998. Moving to a Service-Focused, Managed Growth Culture: A Follow-up on the Case of CDPHP. Organizational Dynamics 27(1):75-77.

Wageman, Ruth. 1997. Case Study: Critical Success Factors for Creating Superb Self-Managing Teams at Xerox. Compensation and Benefits Review 29(5):31-41.


(1.) Alan G. Robinson and Sam Stern. 1997. Corporate Creativity: How Innovation and Improvement Actually Happen (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers), pp. 206-207.

(2.) Walt Disney: Famous Quotes. 1994. Printed for Walt Disney Theme Parks and Resorts, 36.

(3.) Norman Brinker and Donald T. Phillips. 1996. On the Brink: The Life and Leadership of Norman Brinker. (Arlington, TX: The Summit Publishing Group), p. 195.

(4.) Craig R. Taylor and Cindy Wheatley-Lovoy. 1998. Leadership: Lessons From the Magic Kingdom. Training and Development (July):24.

(5.) V. A. Zeithaml and M. J. Bitner. 1996. Services Marketing (New York: McGraw-Hill), p. 76.

(6.) Quoted in Sue Shellenbarger. 1998. Companies Are Finding It Really Pays to Be Nice to Employees. Wall Street Journal, July 27:B-1.

(7.) Ibid.

(8.) Ibid. A compelling discussion of the employee satisfaction-customer satisfaction link can be found in: Benjamin Schneider and David E. Bowen. 1993. The Service Organization: Human Resources Management Is Crucial. Organizational Dynamics 21(2):39-52. See also: Benjamin Schneider and David E. Bowen. 1995. Winning the Service Game (Boston: Harvard Business School Press).

(9.) Blake E. Ashforth and Ronald H. Humphrey. 1993. Emotional Labor in Service Roles. Academy of Management Review 18(1):94.

(10.) Ibid., 98.

(11.) Ibid., 102.

(12.) Brinker and Phillips, 192.

(13.) This discussion of empowerment is based on Robert C. Ford and Myron D. Fottler. 1995. Empowerment: A Matter of Degree. Academy of Management Executive 9(3):21-28.

(14.) D. E. Bowen and E. E. Lawler. 1992. The Empowerment of Service Workers: What, Why, How, and When. Sloan Management Review 33(1):31-39.

(15.) L. C. Plunkett and R. Fournier. 1991. Participative Management: Implementing Empowerment (New York: John Wiley & Sons): 5.

(16.) J. B. Schor. 1991. The Overworked American (New York: Bagle Books), p. 11.

(17.) A classic book on this subject is J. R. Hackman and G. P. Oldham. 1980. Work Design (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley).

(18.) (May 1999).

(19.) B. Dumaine. 1990. "Who Needs a Boss?" Fortune, May 7:52-60.

(20.) F. Shipper and C. C. Manz. 1992. Employee Self-Management Without Formally Designated Teams: An Alternative Road to Empowerment. Organizational Dynamics 20(3):59. See also 48-61.

(21.) Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg. 1996. Nuts! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success (Austin, TX: Bard Press), p. 289.

(22.) See Bowen and Lawler, 31-39.

(23.) See Chester I. Barnard. 1968. The Functions of the Executive (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), Chapter 12.

(24.) David Koenig. 1994. Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (Irvine, CA: Bonaventure Press), p. 27.
Table 7-1 Successful Work Team Characteristics

1. Has a meaningful team purpose that inspires and focuses the members'

2. Has goals and objectives that are measurable, specific, realistic,
and easy to understand with defined areas of authority.

3. Is small enough to act as a true team (5-15 members).

4. Has members with the necessary skills to operate as a team
(functional/technical skills appropriate for the decision area,
problem-solving/decision-making skills, interpersonal/team skills).

5. Has clear, well-organized work procedures and rules of behavior that
are enforced by the team.

6. Has a cultural value of mutual accountability where only the team
can fail or be a hero, and not any one team member.

7. Is led by a team-building coach who builds a performance culture.

8. Has enough group time to allow members to interact and learn how to
care about one another.

9. Understands the extent of its authority.

10. Is supported by the organization's reward and information systems
and other resources necessary to succeed.
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Title Annotation:Section 2 The Hospitality Service Staff
Publication:Managing the Guest Experience in Hospitality
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Previous Article:Chapter 6 Training for service.
Next Article:Chapter 8 Involving the guest: coproduction.

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