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Get the Wrong People Off the Bus

Jon Sholter


Today, in less than 5 minutes, we're going to cover the following:

The number 1 Human Resources principle.


I read Good to Great by Jim Collins probably a decade ago. It's a staple business book and recommended reading if you haven't already. That said, I only remember one point from this endeavour (isn't it funny how that works?). The point was to get the right people on the bus.

I believe in human resources and workplace culture, there's nothing more important than this principle. A lot goes into discussing how to improve one's workplace and pursuing this is paramount. However, the simple fact remains that a few bad apples can ruin the batch.

Getting the right people on the bus in the hotel industry is tricky. Busy season coming? Hire anyone with a heartbeat and see who lasts. I'm not here to condemn this practice for some positions, been there, done that, will probably do again.

However, for all the operators who constantly complain year after year about sick calls, poor attitudes and shortages this principle might be the best thing for you. Do not tolerate negativity, toxicity, or drama. Let's look at some examples of how this may impact your workplace.

Staffing Shortage Situation:

We've all been there, not letting someone toxic go because our hotel is busy and we need the bodies. A housekeeper calls in "sick," leading to a stressful day at the hotel for the rest of the team. Later in the week, the housekeeper does it again, leaving everyone hanging. How long before others start doing the same? Negativity is contagious, it is almost guaranteed this one bad apple will tarnish some others. Again, I am not going into variables here; I am speaking in black-and-white terms. Even for a short time, toxicity can bleed into your culture. Do not let the thought "just let us get through this month" creep into your mind. Moments play a massive role in your culture and a lot of negative moments can occur over a short period. Even when it seems impossible to do so, it's better to pull off the band-aid and move on.

Toxic Talent:

In sports, we hear a lot about cancer in the locker room. Team's literally trade superstar talent because no one else wants to play with them. Why don't we do the same in our industry? Need some signs? The Team member who blames other team members to colleagues or, worse, guests. The Team Member who sets up others to fail. The Team member who feels they are part of a Hollywood script. We all know the ones, the FD agent with the problems above who also leads the team in upsells or the housekeeper who is excellent at cleaning rooms, but not so great at helping others.

Whether you need someone for a time or you feel like negativity is negated because the individual works alone. The truth is, you're wrong. Nine times out of ten, the right decision is to move on. It's the right decision for your psyche, your team's psyche, and your hotel's bottom line.

When you let go of the constantly complaining individual, you'll realize no one complains when they disappear.

As a leader, you only have so much energy to deal with the drama, and your team is the same. The more energy expended on negative emotions, the less for those pushing your hotel forward.

This isn't to say colleagues do not deserve second chances or team members cannot be coached to a higher level. It's a call to take action when you see repeated red flags, to realize it most likely is not a coincidence. The research is clear on this, one bad apple can bring down a positive group in a significant way. Once you get the right people on your bus and more importantly, get the wrong people off, the art/science of performance management becomes a lot clearer. Save your coaching, your team building, your culture-raising initiatives for those who belong in your tribe. The repercussions of not taking action are not nominal, they are not minimal. Pull off the band-aid, move on and find the recruit your fellow Team members deserve, you owe it to them.


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