Teamwork in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry-A case study of Labadi Beach Hotel-By HELENA ODOI INTRODUCTION Organisations are described as social entities with a common goal of providing goods or services to their clients on a profit or not-for-profit bases. As social entities, organisations are made up of groups of people who must work together and coordinate their efforts to achieve a common goal. This calls for the creation of groups or teams within organisations with their individual or collective goals to achieve. The relevance of groups or teams cannot therefore be downplayed.
A group is a set of people who interact with one another and with a common purpose. Zander and Cartwright identified some features that groups must possess. Some of these are: i. Frequent interaction between members ii. An identity of membership iii. Other people see members as belonging to the group iv. Members play interlocking roles v. Members pursue interdependent objectives vi. Find group rewarding vii. Have a collective responsibility Groups and teams are usually used interchangeably, but there is the need to strike a distinction between teams and groups.
Belbin distinguishes teams from groups using the following perimeters: i. Size:-groups can constitute any number of people, for example, a political party; teams on the other hand have a limited number of membership. ii. Selection: The members of a team are carefully selected to cater for the various roles while the members of groups have no restrictions on selection of the group. For example, political parties. iii. Leadership: some leadership positions are situational and rotate among the members depending on the task. On the other hand groups may have solo leaders. iv.
Style: Teams have their roles spread among the members with a certain degree of coordination. Groups, on the other hand have their roles limited to a particular number of people, for example, an executive body. v. Spirit: teams have a spirit of constant and intimate interaction than groups. In effect teams are more structured than groups. While all teams are groups not all groups are teams (Mullins L, J, 2007). THE STRUCTURE OF TEAMS The structure of teams in organisations can take several forms depending on the nature of the organisation, the tasks involved and the purposes of the teams.
Groups/teams can be structured as: i. formal or informal ii. Directed or self-directed. Formal groups could be structured as; i. Functional groups ii. Task groups Functional groups are usually structured based on the organisation structure. They usually consist of various units/departments of the organisation, with a manager or supervisor as the leader. Roles and duties are clearly defined with lines of authority and responsibilities. For example, in a hotel, there may be the Personnel Department, the Finance Department and many others. Task groups are mainly created for the execution of specific tasks or operations.
For example, there could be a project team to work on market segmentation and positioning. These teams are usually made up of people with different and varied levels of skills, qualifications and competencies, and may be coming from different functional areas of the organisation. They are usually smaller and stand out as real teams tasked with executing a particular duty/task. Management teams and committees tend to assume permanent status because their mandate covers activities that are on-going and directly linked to the strategy and policy of the organisation.
Informal groups are those formed to satisfy individual needs. They are formed out of the working relationships and interactions among employees. For example, a kind of informal relationship could exist between the Concierge Team in a hotel. These teams usually form their own norms and values. Directed teams usually have a well defined leader with laid down lines of authority. For example, the Front Desk Supervisor in a hotel is the legitimate leader of the Front Desk Team. Leaders derive their authority from the organisational structure.
Self-directed teams on the other hand usually form their own norms and leadership is rotational or defined by the activity and the individual skills and personality of members. The functions and performance of teams will therefore depend on their structure. The Purposes of Teams In the Tourism and Hospitality Industry. The purposes of teams in the Tourism and Hospitality industry and of any other team are varied and many. The main purpose of teams is to align team goals with organisational goals through the contribution of interdependent skills and competencies.
For example, all teams in a hotel should work and coordinate their efforts and resources towards achieving the corporate strategy of the organisation. Apart from the corporate objective, teams are also to help members achieve their individual needs and aspirations. As a result, the Front Desk Staff may negotiate for better conditions of service for their members. In a similar vein, the Management Team may form a Club to project members’ interests. Teams may also be formed purposefully to work on specific projects or tasks which are vital to the organisation.
For example, a team could be set up to work on the landscape of a hotel in order to attract guests. Some tasks can only be performed by a group of people or require a variety of skills, experience, and expertise to perform them. Such tasks cannot be performed without the collaborative efforts of each individual member. One of the purposes of teams is therefore to bring these individual talents together to form a synergy for the performance of these tasks. Such teams are usually temporary and consist of a variety of experts such as an agronomist, horticulturalist, and many others.
The leadership of such a team may rotate depending on the task level of the project. Another main purpose of teams, especially in the Tourism and Hospitality industry is to bring about effective coordination and control of the units/departments of an organisation. The Tourism and Hospitality industry is a collaborative industry which requires a greater degree of coordination and teamwork. There should be coordination between the Front Office Department and the Housekeeping Department, as well as the Sales Department. There should also be greater coordination and cooperation between the Day Shift Front Desk Team and the Night one.
Without easy and effective communication, there cannot be collaboration of departments/units. Another purpose of teams is to maintain effective and easy communication of information among members and departments. Information dissemination is a very important tool in organisations. Information cannot be carried to every single member of the organisation. As a result, information is given to the team leader, who in turn passes it on to the individual members. For example, the Shift Leader passes on information from Management to his team members.
Since it is highly impossible to resolve the problems of every individual member of an organisation at a particular time, individual member needs are channeled through the team or group. For example, career development of individual employees can be obtained from the team leader and training programmes designed to address them. In effect, teams are used to address the needs and problems of each specific group. Other purposes of teams related to individual needs include: i. Finding identity and building self-esteem of members ii. To imbibe leadership qualities in members iii. To boost worker morale and solidarity and to influence behaviour.
For example, the Hawthorne Experiments by Elton Mayo (1932) emphasise the importance of groups. Factors Which Influence the Effectiveness of Teams Teams cannot just function by themselves. There are certain ingredients which will ensure the effectiveness of teams. Heller R (1997) posits the importance of teams in organisations. He stated that “An organisation is a team of teams” and that people have to work together as a team and think as a team. In effect, one of the most challenging tasks of organisations is for people to work as a team. The effectiveness of teams will depend on a number of factors.
To begin with, teams should ensure that there is free flow of information and communication among members. This can be achieved through open discussions and giving members the capacity to contribute in decision making. Members need to be trained on how to communicate effectively and favourably with fellow employees, guests/clients and senior management. Communication should be a two way affair; top-down and bottom-up. For example, the Concierge or Front Desk Agent should have good communication skills with fellow members of the team. Open communication should be backed by allowing members to contribute in decision making.
Decisions arrived at by the group should be based on logical arguments and not by imposition. There should also be a link between decisions of one team and the other to bring about a synergy of relationships within the organisational units. For example, there should be a link between the Housekeeping Department and the Front Office Unit. Similarly, decisions of a project team for the automation of sales at the bar should be relayed to the Finance Department. When members are allowed to contribute to decision making, it emboldens them and they realize that they are part of the group.
For effectiveness, the leadership of teams, unlike groups should be situational, except for formal teams where there is a legal leader. Depending on the skills and competencies of individual members, any of the members could become the leader in different situations and levels of the task they are performing. This will ensure mutual respect for one another thus leading to development of team spirit. Leaders should also not impose their decisions on members but rather factor in their criticisms and suggestions. The effectiveness of teams cannot be realized if they do not evaluate their own progress.
Tracking and evaluating programmes will lead to the correction of mistakes which further leads to good results and work performance. Evaluation of the work should involve all members of the team just as decisions are arrived at by a consensus. According to Heller, team members should believe in shared aims and objectives. They should see their individual roles as complementing one another’s efforts towards the shared corporate objectives. It is when these teams share the aims and objectives of the group, that their complementary efforts can be realized.
This means that team members should lay down shared values and norms that will guide the behaviour of all members. A sense of commitment to these shared values and norms will bring about cohesion in the group. A team that is not coherent cannot survive. Coherency does not mean homogeneity in skills and capabilities or the lack of divergent views. Finally, for effectiveness of teams, members should have a feeling of mutual trust and respect for one another. Resolution of conflicts should be done by members themselves and may only seek arbitration when the case is serious.
In effect, open communication, the right to take part in decision making, participatory leadership, coherency of members and evaluation of their activities will ensure the effectiveness of teams across organisations and situations. Roles and Responsibilities of Teams The roles and responsibilities of a team determine its structure and purpose. Belbin (1981) identified nine roles that every effective team must possess. Each member should have special characteristics, capabilities and skills necessary for the performance of their roles. The work teams at Labadi Beach Hotel, in Ghana, a five star hotel comprise of the following: i.
The Management Team ii. The Front Office Department iii. The Sales Department/Business Unit iv. Accounts/Stores v. The Housekeeping Department among others The Front Office Department consists of the following members; i. The Concierge ii. Guest Service Agents/Front Desk Agents iii. The Night Auditor iv. The Security v. The Bellman The Front Desk Agent The roles and responsibilities of the Front Desk Team of Labadi Beach Hotel include: i. Welcoming of guests. ii. Providing information to guests iii. Receiving and registering guests iv. Assigning rooms and providing room keys to guests . Handling on-line reservations and telephone calls vi. Handling mails and messages related to the guests vii. Referring aggrieved guests to the manager for redress viii. Promoting and selling guest rooms ix. Maintaining effective communication with all related departments to ensure smooth service delivery The Concierge The duties and responsibilities of the Concierge involve: i. Providing information, advice and guidance to hotel guests on a number of issues such as: services, entertainment, recreation facilities, restaurants, luggage, transport and sightseeing. ii.
The Concierge is to provide exceptional customer service to all the guests of Labadi Beach Hotel. They are to work and collaborate with other departments like the sales Department, Front Desk and the Bellman. The Security The Security who form part of the team of the Front Office Team have the main responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of guests, the hotel property and employees. Some of the roles and responsibilities of the security include; i. Monitoring the movement of guests and employees and keeping records of them to ensure that there is no pilfering and miscreants do not enter the premises of the hotel. i. Ensuring proper parking of vehicles iii. Making sure employees clock in and out upon resumption of duties and departure iv. Conducting security walks throughout the hotel property v. Responding to guests requests as well as other complaints The Security will complement the roles of the Concierge, the bellman and the Front Desk Agent. They may even receive telephone calls from guests concerning reservations and pass the information to the Front Desk Agents. They can also help the Concierge to investigate about the lost of guests’ luggage.
The Security Agent will need the skills of vigilance, firmness and honesty to be able to execute their duties effectively. The Bellman The Bellman or Van Driver is responsible for transporting guests to and from the hotel to local area attractions as well as assisting the guest with recommendations for restaurant and tourists activities. The Bellman is also supposed to support in the front desk operations. The primary responsibilities of the Bellman include: i. Driving guests to designated locations ii. Assisting guests with luggage iii. Assisting in concierge duties iv.
Contacting car rental agencies to arrange for transport for guests in situations where the hotel fleet of cars are exhausted The bellman works in collaboration with the Security, Front Desk Agent and the Concierge, as well as the Housekeeping Department to ensure efficient delivery of his services. For example, the Concierge may help him to convey guests’ luggage from their rooms to the van. The Bellman needs to have in-depth knowledge of the city and tourist attractions of the country. They should also possess a valid driver’s license. Relationship between Roles and Responsibilities and the eam objectives All the members of the Front Office Team should work together and coordinate their efforts to achieve the team objectives. Their roles and responsibilities should be directed towards the achievement of the corporate objectives as well. The objectives of the Front Office of Labadi Beach Hotel is to deliver high quality services to guests in a friendly and humane manner as well as maintaining an unflinching level of integrity with guests, employees and the owners of the hotel. All the members of the team should therefore work towards this objective.
For example, the Front Desk Agents in-charge of reservations should liaise quickly with the Front Office Manager and the Executive Housekeeper to ensure that rooms are available and are in good condition. The Security, the Concierge and the Front Office Agent who are the first and last contact with guests should have effective conversational skills and a positive personality, with the desire to deliver outstanding customer service to guests. On the other hand the Bellman should be prompt in attending to guests’ requests and should be able to drive guests to tourist attractions and other destinations on schedule.
All members of the team should maintain a high level of integrity in their dealings with guests. In effect, the individual roles and responsibilities should mirror the objective of the group. Lines of Authority and their Purpose The lines of authority of the Front Office of Labadi Beach Hotel are structured in line with the organizational structure. The Front Office Team is headed by the Front Office Manager, who is responsible to the Hotel Manager. He plays functional roles with the Executive Housekeeper, the Sales Manager, the Engineer and the Personnel Manager.
The various divisions of the departments are headed by supervisors such as the Chief Security Officer, the Front Desk Supervisor, and the Night Auditor among others. The Front Desk Supervisor is responsible for all the activities of the Front Desk Agents which include; staffing, training, inter-department communication and staff-scheduling. The Chief Security is responsible for assigning security personnel to their posts as well as staff scheduling in the shifts. He/she reports to the Front Office Manager. The Chief Security is also to coordinate with other departments to ensure excellent customer delivery. Conclusion
Teamwork is the live wire of every organization. The roles and responsibilities of members are interdependent and should coordinate towards the objectives of the team and the entire organization in general. Reference Mullins L, J, (2007). Management and Organisational Behaviour Eighth Edition. Pearson. P 299-329 Schein, E. H. (1988) Organisational Psychology, Third Edition. Prentice-Hall Marmic D, and Seltzer J. (1995) Organisational Behaviour,: Experiences and Cases p. 107-121. South Western College. Managerial Accounting, ABE Study Manual: Organisational Behaviour, www. diplomaindo. org. uk/documents www. hotelmule. com/management