by Egi Gaisie

Taking up the position of a Supervisor, Hotel Owners/Managers who employ us have varied reasons, including covert reasons. Our job descriptions differ from what we really do if we are fortunate to have been given one. On our part, we are very eager  to take the position for the following reasons:

  • money
  • power and authority
  • benefits
  • networking
  • self esteem

Generally an overt and a common understanding of our job specifications include having specialized technical education and work experience in specific areas of specialization(for a departmental supervisor). For the position of General Operations Supervisor, especially in the small hotels, the requirements include a general hotel/hospitality management education with the ability to supervise at least two departments effectively. 
Who are we? 
Our positions, depending on the size of the hotel property may include titles such as ‘Front Office Supervisor’, ‘Food and Beverage Supervisor’, ‘Head Chef’ , ‘Head Waiter’, ‘Housekeeping Supervisor’ and ‘General Services Supervisor’ or even ‘Assistant Manager’. Hotels with fifty rooms or less may have personnel carrying such titles as ‘Head/Lead Cook’, ‘Night Receptionist/Auditor’, ‘Marketing Officer’, ‘Account Officer’ and ‘Bartender’ also playing the role of supervisors.

Some hotels have the word ‘executive’ tagged along operational titles such as ‘Front Desk Executive’, although such personnel may not be playing supervisory roles (confusing isn’t it?).

Common to the varied titles listed above, is the fact that we are all directly responsible for entry-level employees or other personnel who do not have supervisory responsibilities . We are often reminded, and correctly so, that we are the ‘linking pins’ facilitating communication between our subordinates and higher level personnel and vice versa. Sometimes we find that we have to answer to two bosses, -the General Manager and the Owner –(an unhealthy business practice).

Many of us were promoted from the rang, based on seniority. Some got promoted by looking the part; while others, by flattering the people who selected them. It is not clear how many others ascended by their knowledge and reliability in their areas of specialization.

A general assessment of supervisors in 2-star rated Ghanaian operated hotels some years back reflected a-below average rating.

As Supervisors, most of us underestimate the scope of our jobs. We easily complain and/or become complacent on the job. Our technical know-how is limited and some even feel threatened by our subordinates who have been longer on the job than us, but lack the educational qualifications we possess.

The lack of effective orientation given to us when we first took up our supervisory jobs and our inability to pursue continuous professional training betray us. Unfortunately we also hardly ask our bosses questions, much more probing questions!

We demonstrate poor understanding of the standards and goals of the organization  and /or the industry and we sometimes panic at the normal demands of our position. Our level of maturity, discretion, insight and reasoning to effectively convince our employers to provide the needed resources to meet operational demands is quite low and we sometimes feel bullied or intimidated by some.

Invariably, our loyalty to the hotel organization we work for depends more on our personal relationship with our employers than on our professional relationship.

Most of us know we need training but we do not see it as critical since we must be seen to be doing the bidding of our employers irrespective of professional requirements.

Should an artist sketch the impressions of the above discussion on the hotel supervisor, the portrait will likely not be a complimentary one.

The series of articles to follow should help equip hotel supervisors towards developing a strong professional image. 

What does it mean to supervise?

The common understanding of ‘supervising’ upon which subsequent articles will focus on are to: 

  1. Watch over the work of your staff to ensure that the standard requirements of the hotel operation are met.
  2. Offer guidance for meeting daily set goals.
  3. Provide leadership in difficult times.

Self Assessment
Are you ready to carry out an honest assessment on yourself? A generic self appraisal form has been made available in  Part 2a and 2b. Meanwhile take stock of what your responsibilities are as a Supervisor.

We will then discuss the challenges of your role in this unique environment(of hotels) and provide guidelines towards developing a ‘take charge’ image. 

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