Tuesday, August 27, 2013

AOL's Armstrong Falls Victim to an Ego Trap

Tim Armstrong.
Victim of Ego Trap 6 - Underestimating How Much You're Being Watched.

First, he is human and was triggered by an employee who was not following his stated rules. Second, he is feeling the weight of the company's future on his shoulders.  But in the end, by lashing out at an employee and firing him on a public conference call, Mr. Armstrong sadly fell victim to Ego over EQ. Instead of recognizing his temper start to flare, reading the environment he was in, and responding like a composed leader he let his emotions get the better of him, forgot he was in such a public forum, and lost his self control. Seconds of mindful attention can save an executive from embarrassment and a loss of credibility.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Interview with Geri Williams-Fitts – Vice President of Human Resources at Highgate Hotels

My featured guest this month is Geri Williams-Fitts, she is the Vice President of Human Resources at Highgate Hotels. I have worked with Geri for several years now and have always been impressed with her commitment to raising the EQ of her workforce. To learn more about one of her groups see my blog post on The Quin.

JS: What EQ skills do you feel are vital for hospitality professionals today and why?

GW: Use of EQ in our processes is the foundation for a host of all critical PEOPLE skills—it impacts most everything we say and do each day.   Emotional intelligence affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Each emotional intelligence competency plays a vital role in the world of hospitality.  When a professional elects to enter into hospitality, Personal competence - self-awareness and self-management skills are essential.  Are you flexible?  Can you positively direct your behavior and the behaviors of others?   Anyone who has checked into a hotel can attest that these skills are not only vital, but indispensable.   Through the use of EQ techniques, we as an organization can better understand how potential candidates will react to other people’s moods, behavior, and motivators to establish quality relationships.  Relationship Management indicators also are essential.  Hospitality professionals must manage interactions successfully every moment of the day…internally or externally.  
Too often, managerial placements in any industry are not the best managers of people.   Being in a PEOPLE business…this could be a real problem. We seek leaders with a multitude of skills however, we target good listening skills. A manager who is a good listener puts aside their own assumptions...typically projecting a caring and considerate demeanor.  Even if not in a position to find a solution to a problem, the leader usually can effectively make a guest or fellow colleague/associate hopeful and optimistic.

JS: How is Highgate utilizing the power of EQ as part of your guest experience initiatives?

GW: In an industry that revolves around customer service, knowing how to please your guests is crucial for the success of our operation. Each guest experience is unique.  When our guests arrive, they bring their own levels of expectation to the experience.  Knowing how to make your guests happier is good for business. Hiring people who are masters at managing their emotions, who don't get angry in stressful situations, is critical. Given the extremely fast pace and ever changing interactions, associates with the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution as well as being excellent decision makers and breed confidence in their abilities to trust their intuition which, in turn leads to more repeat business.   A hotel stay should always be an extraordinary one and through use of EQ in our casting choices, it makes a big difference in the quality of our guest’s experience.

JS: In your opinion, are there any roles in particular that need EQ more than others?

GW: Hospitality has a diverse guest base, more so than any other industry.  Equally it remains as one of the only industries that remain open 24 hours a day- 365 days a year.    To illustrate the complexity of our business, in a 900 room hotel, by June of this year, 280,000 guest rooms have been cleaned by our valued room attendant base.   WOW!     Understanding the intricacy of their role and managing our relationships and remaining aware of their emotions, allows us to foster extraordinary work environments and manage interactions with each associate successfully. Our guest is our associates. Senior leaders are aware that if associates ask what they need for a better workplace, we set an expectation that leadership will respond to their feedback with new, refreshed approaches.   This tells our associates that their opinions count and that leadership is listening and responsive.   We are in the hospitality business and our job is all about how to make people smile and have a pleasant experience during their stay. This begins internally first which, in turn breeds an environment where our associates are not only ambassadors for our company but ambassadors of our industry.

About Geri Williams-Fitts:
Ms. Williams-Fitts is located in the Dallas office and is responsible for overseeing Highgate’s Human Resources function for the corporate offices and all hotel locations.  As the VP of HR, Geri is a key strategic part of the senior leadership team driving people strategies and initiatives to improve key performance indicators such as staff satisfaction, retention, turnover, stability and sales productivity. Additionally, the VP of HR is a culture merchant and change agent who works with business units on a daily basis in regard to unique people challenges and needs. The role is a blend of strategic HR coupled with hands-on responsibilities. Prior to joining the Highgate team, Geri has established 20 year career in the hospitality industry serving in multiple Senior Human Resources roles with Wyndham Worldwide and Hilton Hotels.  In addition, Geri spent over nine years with notable retail service organizations to include May Company and Federated.