EXCELLENCE IS… Series Part 5

by Egi Gaisie

It’s been about two and a half years since the book, Careers in the Lodging –Hospitality Industry in Ghana was launched. As I thought about this week’s article on Excellence is …4 P’s, passion, patience, perseverance and persistence, I couldn’t help but recall the career journeys of thirteen Ghanaian hotel personnel who allowed me to delve into their career backgrounds in the hotel industry and further permitted me to show case their career journeys in the book.

Talk about two, three and often, all four P’s!  Passion, patience, perseverance and persistence working together, often through a career lattice or going up the corporate career ladder; from…

  • Bilingual Secretary to Front Office Manager.
  • Room Attendant to Executive Housekeeper.
  • Pastry Cook to an Executive Chef.
  • Casual Banquet Waiter to a Food and Beverage Manager.
  • One taking an early retirement from the military and stepping into the hotel arena as a Security officer to a Security consultant.
  • Senior Auditor to a Chief Accountant.
  • Front Office Supervisor to a hotel Sales and Marketing Manager.
  • Refrigeration and Air condition Technician to a hotel Sales Manager.
  • Administrative Officer to Human Resource and Training Manager.
  • Technician to a Chief Engineer.
  • Accounts officer to a hotel Operations Manager.
  • Restaurant cashier to a hotel General Manager.
  • Catering officer to a hotel General Manager.

And none of them are resting on their laurels yet!

I have been privileged to engage with a few younger professionals in the hospitality and tourism industry who are on course in pursuing excellence in their respective professional ambitions.

 I have no doubt each of us, the older ones, has something to share on these 4 P’s particularly in respect to our careers.

Permit me to share a little aspect of a young professional’s experience which has kept me thinking.  Considering the new world ‘springing’ on us and where the future could be taking us, can the corporate hospitality world afford to continue to leave her employees to ‘figure out’ their careers on their own?

Mawuli had completed his attachment with a local travel and tour agency (TTL) but was still reporting to work as though he was a permanent employee for about two months when he was called by a multinational travel and tour agency (FEL). He had requested for an attachment with this company a year ago and had actually attended three ‘unsuccessful’ interviews.

FEL offered Mawuli a job as a travel coordinator, evidenced by a letter of appointment and a job description. After a week at his new job, Mawuli compares his experiences at TTL and FEL, the two different travel and tour organizations.

FEL offered me a job after my recent interview which happens to be the third interview I have had with them. When I reported to work on my first day, I was taken through a general orientation for about two hours after which my Supervisor started training me on their software which was different from what I was familiar with. I thought I had gained enough experience from my previous job to effectively work at FEL, but I was wrong. The terrain was totally different!

What really challenged me was the passion in which FEL employees worked in what seemed like a tensed environment; where we had to meet deadlines as well as satisfy clients to the maximum.

At TTL, on the other hand, we took our time to respond to clients despite their pressing demands. TTL was not always busy; we found ourselves sitting idle and chatting away. We had no supervision. Work done was passed on to clients without being cross-checked by a Supervisor. Sometimes our clients’ expectations were not met because information could not reach them on time. This was due to the fact that we frequently had power outages and our internet was often down. We found ourselves giving our clients excuses every day.

At FEL, there is always something to do. There is no time for idle talk. Work done is always cross checked. Everyone is always working on something or other.

For the first time, I got to know my position/title and my responsibilities in a work environment. I was known as the ‘Travel Coordinator’ but at TTL, I was Mawuli, the agent.

FEL is different; all electronic equipment and gadgets were at our disposal. Technicians serviced them weekly.

FEL is a very disciplined, principled and organized institution. The Managing Director always wants to see the best come out of us, employees. She gives individual tasks to assess each and everyone’s capabilities. This motivates us to work harder than normal and obviously to impress her. Service delivery is therefore at its best.

At TTL, there was no time the staff had a formal meeting. TTL was ‘freestyle’, anything goes. Ten minutes before 5pm you would see everyone packing to go home. But at FEL even though we are expected to close, at 5:30pm you will still see staff busy, finishing the work for the day. FEL staff are very professional in whatever we do.

How do we, industry and academia, create learning environments to promote passion, patience, persistence and perseverance among our up and coming young professionals? Mawuli’s second work environment began building a sense of pride, purpose and responsibility in him. Employees who feel engaged in their workplace tend to stay, but the reverse is true too when they feel disengaged from development opportunities in particular; they are more likely to leave.

My generation has been labelled ‘Baby Boomers’. After us came Gen. X (1965-’80), then Millennials or Gen Y (1981-’94) and Gen Z (1995-2010) respectively. It is not really clear to me if the unique characteristics of these generations fit us in this part of the world, but our young professionals are eager to grow in their careers and advance within the organizations they have been employed. They want to feel motivated and interested on a consistent basis, they want careers that challenge and inspire them.

How can we best prepare them to thrive in this new world? Experiential learning as a tool for inspiring hospitality and tourism students could be enhanced but much more is required.

Passion, Patience, Perseverance, Persistence together with other elements (spirit…intentional, productivity, result-driven, critical thinking) discussed in earlier articles require appropriate learning and working environments to see our young professionals excel.

Solution for past riddle: What can you catch but not throw? A cold.

Riddle for the week: You can’t keep this until you have given it. What is it?

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