What’s the Secret to Ageing Well?

How many amazing photographs have we seen of late of older celebrities who look stunning? Joan Collins, Sharon Stone, Jane Fonda and even Her Majesty the Queen are all great examples of high-profile females who are turning the notion of twinsets, pearls and tight perms firmly on its head by looking incredible whilst being busy and continuing to achieve great things in later life.Male celebrities too are also out pushing boundaries, whilst there are regularly items in the news of older people enjoying adventurous lives. Many are studying, working, travelling and treating later life as opportunity to change path and enjoy a great time. Many of us are happy to forgo the rocking chairs as middle age gets pushed back yet another decade.Whilst we many not be privy to the financial clout or lifestyle choices of wealthy celebrities or have the genetic advantage of good looks and bone structure there are still ways we can improve our quality of life and enjoy ageing well.- Our hair style can date us. It may be an easy option to check in with the same hairdresser every time; after all, they know us so well, won’t make any regrettable errors and are convenient. But sometimes visiting another stylist can result in them seeing us in a very different way and suggesting a change in style or colour, giving our image a complete overhaul. It’s no bad thing to sometimes be seen by a fresh pair of eyes.

Advice from experts for women includes avoiding wearing hair too long or adopting solid or sharp lines, thus supporting a softer look. For men, maintaining smart, fashionable grooming helps you look years younger and feel better about yourself.- Exercise is important at any age. While we may not aim to be as energetic as we were when young, exercise in later years is almost more important. Be alert to the risk of leading too sedentary a life and consider a regular brisk thirty-minute walk as a valuable way to get some fresh air. It costs nothing and could tie in with spending pleasant time with your partner, family or friends, chatting about your days, investing in your relationships.Investigate over-50′s classes run by many local leisure centres. There may be Pilates or yoga available to attend, which also provides opportunities to socialise regularly with others. Or incorporate some exercise and stretching into your domestic routine or consider a personal trainer.- Diet and eating healthily helps manage the ageing process. It’s sensible to avoid processed foods, sugar and excess alcohol, to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated as well as eat lots of fresh green vegetables, fruit and wholegrains. All are ways to invest in good internal and external health, so helping you to age well.- Your dress style reflects your age. Keeping up-to-date with the latest fashions and trends enables you to be stylish, smart and attractive without adopting any extreme fashion trends. Many older women prefer to cover their arms and neck areas. The artful use of scarves and accessories can achieve this whilst providing an elegant, distinctive look.Whilst older men may move away from daily uniforms or business suits and dress more casually, it can be ageing to regularly dress in track suits and trainers. Get into the habit of wearing a smart-casual look, comfortable but not scruffy.

- A younger mindset means letting go of limiting beliefs, being realistic but not saying ‘no’ or ‘I can’t’ too often. Learn to deal with any stressors in your life, pace yourself, but also look forward with enthusiasm to opportunities that come along. Remember, if you choose to say ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t’ – either way you’re correct. Outlook and perspective is the key. Have a ‘yes, why not’ mentality and remember, this is your time to try new things.- Future plans should be motivational, whilst not being too daunting or stressful. Choose to leave your comfort zone from time to time and keep life interesting and exciting. It’s good to stretch yourself a little, but not lie awake fretting about things you’ve agreed to do. You could take a course just for fun, volunteer, do some consultancy work, start a small business from home or accept a part-time job.The secret to ageing well is to enjoy life on your terms. Take good care of your health and focus on living life well!

Top Do’s and Don’ts for Hotel Revenue & Distribution Managers

Hotel revenue management may seem like yet another type of management from a lot of myriads of management types in the business landscape, but Revenue Management is the heart of the entire hospitality industry where a revenue manager must orchestrate the bookings and room price in such a manner that it maximizes revenue.

The primary job of a revenue manager (traditionally) all day was to monitor the fluctuating rates and update their own inventory rate according to the market equation to sell the inventory at highest possible rates in the least possible time and at the same time maintaining high occupancy, RevPAR, and ADR. However, as the times have changed and technology has stepped its foot in almost every industry, there are countless Hotel Revenue Management Tools, like Rate Shopper, Channel Manager, Rate Optimizer, Online Reputation Manager, which have reduced the work of revenue managers in half and doubled the efficiency.

Additionally, with progress in technology, there have been some proven Do’s and Don’ts that have emerged for the revenue managers, which can guide them to shape their revenue generation strategy. Let us discuss a few of them here:

Look at the bigger picture – A smart approach for a successful Revenue Managers should be to stop focussing on just the revenue generated from the room sale, but start focussing on revenue generated by a particular guest, i.e. pay more attention to the Guest Life Cycle or Customer Life Cycle, as some may like to call it. As part of guest experience management, a hotel/revenue manager should keep a record of its existing guests including their choices and preferences and present them various services that they might purchase during their next stay. To explain further, depending on the persona or demographic profile of your guest, you could suggest them various other services of your hotel like, spa, club, gym, disco, etc. This practice creates new sources of revenue and increases overall revenue even when low price inventory has been bought.

Healthy Mix and Distribution of Inventory – Amid seeking for maximum bookings, a revenue manager should be aware of the art of creating a fine balance for exposing your rooms for sale on online and offline channels. Neither exhausting the entire inventory through OTAs nor selling all of them directly would be a good approach. Tools come to rescue in this a requirement. A competent Online Channel Distribution Manager can provide you a lot of support here. The revenue manager should keep a tap on the spending patterns of the direct and OTA customers so that you can optimize sales with the right mix of OTA bookings and direct bookings to achieve revenue targets. Modern Channel Managers allow revenue managers the flexibility to turn on and off any OTA channel they feel is not giving desired results or is proving to be very expensive.

Monitoring Competition – For a better revenue generation, it is always suggested to keep an eye on the competitors in the market. A good revenue manager should observe the prices, promotions, strategies, and processes of its competitors that he/she can adopt for their hotel as well if the need be. In a hotel business where prices fluctuate daily, it becomes even compulsory to keep a constant vigilance on daily competitor rate. The good news is you have tools for that; Hotel Rate Shopper. This tool helps you monitor daily room rates of your pre-decided comp-set. It does not end here, such tools help you with a plethora of other jobs like; an intelligence on overall market supply and average market rate for your city, even Airbnb market supply and average market rate, rate and availability reports for your property on different OTAs and Metasearch sites, a comparison of your ranking on OTA vs your decided comp-set and eyeball competition. Advanced tools even support event tracking for your city to enable a prior change in hotel room rates if required. Competitors can safeguard you against the failure of any new business practice in the industry and if it becomes a success, one can follow the suite.

Focus on Hotel Brand Image and Online Reputation – Developing strong costumers loyalties can help a hotel stand out from the competition. Reviews about your hotels matter a lot to build a strong brand image. Customer reviews and rating have a direct correlation with customer booking preference and thus revenue. Even the most competitive pricing can fail to lure the customers if the reviews are not positive. As per a research, only the price is more valued over the positive reviews in online travel booking. However, many consumers expressed that they will not book a room in a hotel in the absence of positive reviews, even if the price is very low.

The industry is realizing that managing Online Reputation Management is not a one-day job and not an easy one to do. Especially with so many social media sites, review sites to track your guest reviews as guests are present everywhere. Brands images are created over years and broken in a moment. A very strong reason so many hotels whether independent or hotel groups are adopting Online Reputation Management Tools. Major hotels are increasingly using it for restaurant reputation management also.

Some of the DONT’S a revenue manager should follow while creating strategies for better revenue generation are as follows.

Impractical Offers – Exclusive offers and packages are new fads and they are no doubt a powerful technique of luring the customers for bookings. However, a revenue manager should be well aware of the potential of the hotel to grab bookings without offers. Often it has been observed that revenue managers keep running useless offers just to follow their competition, shedding a chunk of hotel revenue.

Overbooking – Booking more than available inventory under the fear of cancellations may sometimes prove an intelligent move. However, this process should be highly optimized since any wrong assumption can lead to trouble for customer inflicting serious damage to the Hotel’s brand image.

Reliability on Single/Limited Channel for Selling – A smart revenue manager never relies on one a few booking channel for selling their room inventory and always keeps a profitable mix of OTA channels for grabbing more bookings. Hesitation in accepting the new approaches by Revenue Managers can be a reason for a hotel lagging in revenue generation. RMs should also monitor the performance of each of their channel partners. Set booking targets for all channels, check the volume of booking and Length of Stay (LOS) of bookings, analyze their profitability, etc. However, at the same time keeping the focus on direct bookings as well and walk-ins. This not only decreases hotel dependency on OTAs but also helps save heavy OTA commissions, thereby increasing profits.

Neglecting Social Media- Social media has emerged as the most raw and honest platform for customers to express their reviews, share their experiences and voicing their complaints and even booking. Being ignorant of the power of social media can be a suicidal and hence, a revenue manager should ensure proper engagement of hotel staff and management with the customers on social media.

Playing too safe – Business is about being bold and taking calculated risks. Playing too safe and practicing mundane business practices can keep your bread coming, but for a business to flourish it is very crucial to take risks. By employing latest strategies, taking less walked roads, the results can be extraordinary. A revenue manager should know the art of taking calibrated risks.

With time passing by, many new approaches would be tested, some of them would work and some of them might fail. In this competition-ridden industry, change is the only constant and revenue managers should brace themselves for any kind of turbulence that industry may witness.

The Effective HR Manager

Winning the respect, trust and confidence of line managers and making a difference

Ask many line managers what they think of HR managers and you will get a variety of views from the positive to the most damning.

Examples are:

- “Excellent. Very professional.”

- “Very responsive, supportive and helpful”

- “Great if I can ever get hold of them”

- “Talk their own language. Not really in touch with the needs of the business. A bit flakey”

- “You mean the dead hand of HR!”

As the issue of effective HR management has grown in importance over the years so has the need for HR managers to be both responsive and proactive in meeting the needs of their developing organisations.

Clearly it’s important that an organisation’s employees are paid on time, they are able to access the benefits they are entitled to and can receive straightforward help and advice from HR when needed.

This operational piece of the HR management responsibility needs to be reliable and responsive in every respect. Getting the basics right is all important.

So is partnering with line managers in recruitment activities, performance management processes, training and personal development provision. These are all very necessary, core elements of the HR function’s role. Organisation’s have every right to expect that HR managers will be proficient in these areas.

But what about gaining the respect, trust and confidence of line managers, over and above these basics? How can HR managers really add value? Here are eight tips.

- Vision

HR managers need to clearly understand the organisation’s vision and challenge the CEO if it is not clear. They need to create an aligned vision for HR to support the corporate vision.

They need to draft a vision, share it with selected line managers, check it, refine it and communicate it both to the HR team and line managers. They need to be clear on HR’s vision for future success, and clear on how it is aligned to the organisation’s overall vision.

- Objectives

HR managers must be clear on their organisation’s objectives. They need to put clear, measurable objectives and milestones to the HR vision. They need to make their objectives concrete, tangible and deliverable with time frames attached.

They need to announce them and ‘stick’ to them. They need to communicate their success in achieving them. They need to be seen as “business like”.

- Strategy

HR managers need to understand their organisation’s strategy. They need to be clear on their HR strategy to deliver their objectives. How will HR be positioned within the organisation as a whole? How will it work alongside the business to deliver the strategy of the business? How will it marry the day to day needs of the business with the longer term development needs?

How will it operate with closer external specialists and suppliers? What short, medium and long term plans does it have to really add value to the business?

What changes will need to be made to deliver the strategy?

HR managers need to answer these questions, share their strategy and plans with the business and their standing will automatically be enhanced!

- Resources

HR is in the business of attracting, acquiring and developing the RIGHT people. HR managers will need to assess the quality of the organisation’s existing people and compare their current capabilities to the capabilities required by the organisation in the future. That’s why they need to understand the organisation’s vision, objectives and strategy so well.

They need to compare the current competency framework to a desired competency framework, say three years from now. What will be different in the requirement of the organisation’s people? How will this impact the type of people the organisation will need, where in the business, and when?

HR managers need to create a strategic HR development plan to deliver the right people resources to the organisation to meet both its current and future needs. The use of performance management, personal development and capability management systems will help them to do this accurately. They must get transparency of the organisation’s human resources to plan effectively.

- Structure

HR managers need to structure the HR function in the most appropriate way.

They should centralise those activities which are core to the whole business. This will include policy development, recruitment, compensation and benefits, performance management, personal development and disciplinary processes. Many of these are governed by legislation and need to be corporate wide, although there may have to be regional or county variations.

HR business managers should be allocated to lines of business to work closely alongside line managers to create and deliver specific interventions to meet their ongoing needs. These people need to be seen as true business partners adding specialist knowledge and skills to line managers. In a sense they are internal consultants clearly understanding the business as well as best practice in HR management and development in the market place.

- Systems

HR managers should employ “fit for purpose” systems for both HR management and HR development. This does not mean the most sophisticated, costly and “heavy weight” systems. They should choose systems that can be easily integrated with one another, are customisable and require little management time.

Systems need to be user friendly as the trend is for managers to use them to ‘self-serve’ more and more these days.

Systems should work together holistically enabling the organisation to obtain transparency of its entire human resource, to enable it to adopt the best people acquisition, retention and development process.

- Knowledge and Skills

HR managers need to ensure that they and their team members really understand the business they work for, including its:

- Market-place

- Customers

- Products/ services

- Routes to market

- Competition

- Major commercial challenges

- Threats, e.g. legal constraints

- Vision, strategy and objectives

- Plans for the future – short, medium and long term

- Culture and values

- Leadership and management style beliefs

Many HR managers fall down because they lack essential knowledge of the business and fail to use the language and terminologies which clearly show that they understand the core business and how it works.

They should avoid “HR speak” which really turns off line managers. This may be helpful shorthand to HR professionals but it is an anathema for line managers and their staff. HR managers should focus on the objective, tangible, concrete, business related issues not just the softer, behavioural and more subjective issues.

They should gain respect for their knowledge of HR issues as well as the tangible issues faced by the business. After all, human resources are just one element of tackling these issues. When handling people related problems HR managers should go back to the vision, objectives and strategy of the business before embarking on solutions.

HR managers should expand their knowledge to include strategic thinking, change management, business planning and organisation development. Oh and finally HR managers and their teams need to become very IT savvy! They are usually not!

- Leadership and Management

The HR manager’s role is to challenge where necessary the behaviours exhibited by managers, who clearly do not ‘walk the talk’. They are to a large extent guardians of the culture and values and need to be seen to be adopting this role.

HR managers should ‘educate’ senior line managers on modern management thinking, helping them to move away from a command and control approach to a more collaborative, consensual working style which truly engages and motivates employees at all levels to give of their best.

The job of today’s managers is to recognise and release talent at all levels not to overlook it or squash it. Performance management systems, personal development programs and reward systems all need to focus on the behaviors and competence required of managers to imbed the corporate values and culture into the organisation. It is the job of the HR manager to ensure that this happens.

So how well have you developed your skills in these eight areas of expertise as an HR manager? Check out how well you are currently doing by using the list below. Tick the box on the left of the statements only if it is TRUE of you.

Start each statement with the words “I..

Top of Form

Have a vision, clearly communicated and accepted, for the role of the HR which is aligned to the corporate vision.

Have short term (up to one year), medium term (two to three years) and longer term (over three years) objectives for the HR function.

Have a thought through written strategy and plan to deliver my objectives.

Am able to assess accurately the organisation’s current HR needs and its future needs, aligning its corporate development plan to strategic HR reviews.

Have a structure for my HR team which enables it to play a centralised and decentralised role in the business, catering for its daily operational needs, and its future development needs.

Have in place HR management and development systems that are fit for purpose, reliable and user friendly.

Am investing in my own and my team’s knowledge and skills in specific areas of HR and wider business related areas.

Challenge the behaviours of managers at all levels of the organisation to live out the corporate values, and my performance management and reward systems reinforce the need to walk the talk.

Am seen as a respected, knowledgeable professional in whom people can put their trust because they have confidence in me.

Continually invest in my own and my team’s personal growth and development.

Total Score:
Bottom of Form

How did you score?

8-10 – Excellent to very good. You have a few gaps to fill.

5 to 8 – Very good to fair. You have quite a few gaps to fill.

0 to 5 – Not so good. If you believe in the points made in this article you have some way to go!

You could say that these are the basics. Getting them right will in itself enhance the HR manager’s standing and reputation. However there are also issues to consider.

These include:

- Being emotionally intelligent

- Being ‘politically’ savvy

- Exercising critical judgement

- Influencing without authority

- Being a catalyst for change

- Having personal credibility

- Being culturally aware

- Conflict resolution skills

- Team building skills

- Managing upwards and managing peers

Plus a host of other soft skills!

First Line Manager: Leaders Must Manage to Lead

Leaders must be managers; but, managers do not necessarily have to be leaders. Leaders have to manager all the resources at their disposal, self, others, communication, etc. Managers also must do the same. Both are responsible for results. The manager does this by following traditional procedures and policies. The leader does the same all the while looking for better ways not so traditional. Leaders do this by first knowing traditional ways and gaining the trust of others. Leaders start with management and then move to leadership.

We have so many leadership experts telling us all the qualities that leaders must have. These traits are all valid. These experts may never have lead an organization. Most will never tie management to leadership. Leadership and management share most of these traits. These experts seem to think leaderships is on a higher plain than management.

The chief difference is that the leader finds new ways of doing; while, the manager uses the tried ways. Managers maintain the status quo; Leaders change it. The outcome, service or product, may look the same, the difference is the path the leader takes to accomplish the outcome.

Lincoln appointed Generals that managed the war in traditional ways. All failed. They managed from a command center not from the front line. Then, Lincoln chose General Grant. Grant supported General Sherman. These Generals were first of all good managers of the resources under their control. They were also on the front line.

Both Grant and Sherman knew how to manage and lead. Grant led in unconventional ways; like his raid through Mississippi to capture Vicksburg. He managed to find a way to supply Chattanooga by the “Cracker line.” Sherman made sure he could reach Atlanta by keeping the army’s supply line open; then, living off the land to capture Savannah. Also, each general taught their army to drill before they marched. They knew their men must know the drill commands before they could lead them in battle. Without the drills the men would be a gang not an army.

How does this relate to leadership? Leaders must know how to manage the people around them. Their decisions must relate to reality. The leader first gains trust by learning the status quo before moving in new directions. Leaders with this establish trust will be able to lead people to a new way of doing and thinking.

General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson led his army on a gruesome march through the mountains during the snowy winter of 1862 to the cities of Bath and Romney. Many of his commanders and solders were against this campaign. During this march Jackson endured all the hardships of his men. One story is about three men waking in the morning covered with snow. Two wake up and start complaining that the Gen Jackson does not know where he is going and he does not care about their hardships. The third man gets up shakes off the snow and mounts his horse; then, Gen. Jackson rides off. Gen. Jackson experiencing the same hardships as his men gained him their trust. When Jackson commanded “March” his men followed. The trust of his men led to one of the greatest marches in history. The march that flanked the Union army during the battle of Chancellorsville and led to a Confederate victory. Before any of these battles he taught his men how to march by drilling, drilling, drilling. In other words he had to manage them first.

Let me bring this down a bit. As a first line manager I learned existing processes in detail. This is key to finding other ways to accomplish better results. Employee’s respect that you know what they do and how they do it. To change, you compare the old way of doing to the new way from the employee’s perspective. Since, you know the old process, you can relate the benefit of the new process in ways the employee can understand. Employees tend to resist leadership if it is not founded on an understanding of what they do and how they do it. Learning their way is key to getting their trust. Also, realize any new process now becomes the status quo; and thus, is subject to change. This causes the complaint; we just learned the new process and now you are changing it again. Your response,” When you or I find a better way we will follow that way. Change is a way of life; it is not optional.”

This sounds simple, it is not. I managed three restaurants and two motels before I discovered that some employees resist you from the start. The first day at the Ramada Inn Crest, a bankrupt hotel, I fired an employee that was insubordinate. When I became the District Accounting Manager at Haleyville the first week I gave two reprimands to an employee; one for insubordination and a one for abuse of sick leave. My first day as the Business Office Manager in Dora I informed the three Customer Service Representative that being late was not an option; we will report on time. All of them were late. Before you can lead you have to teach your employees how you expect them to act. This is the management drill that starts the day you get the job. These actions allow you to lead your employees in new directions. All your employees must move in the same direction. Effective leadership and management requires standards of conduct and your courage to require everyone to adhere to them; including yourself.

Drill first; then, march; manage first; then, lead. This reminds me of a story. Farmer 1 sold his mule to farmer 2. Farmer 2 phones farmer 1 and says, “This mule is not fit for the plow. When I say gee; he haws; when I say haw he gees; you got to take this dud back.” Farmer 1 said I will be over in the morning, you must be doing something wrong. Next morning, farmer 1 said let me see what you are doing. The farmer 2 starts plowing and gives the commands and the mule does not respond. Farmer 1 said stop; he picks up a board hits the mule between his ears. He says Gee; hits him again and says Haw. So, Farmer 2 starts to plow and the mule follows the instruction as commanded. Farmer 1 tells farmer 2 the problem is you have got to get the mule’s attention first. I am not saying for you to treat your employees like that mule: but, somehow you have to get their attention. Your employees need to know they are moving forward to accomplish the organization’s goals.

I know a very concrete example of leadership philosophy gone wrong. The Jasper District got a new District Manager, J. Brown. This person came from the corporate headquarters. This person supervised the janitors and had no field experience. One of the first programs instituted under this new manager was a team building class. The trainers came from the corporate headquarters. All of the managers in the district were required to attend. We went through a high level class on leadership and teamwork. At the end of the program the new manager asked for our thoughts on the program. Barry, a line crew foreman, said he thought it was a bunch of “hogwash” we have been working together for years and know how to work together.

Hogwash? When my turn come I said, “You should defer to experience. We have been working in the district for years and we will help you.” The District Manager came to my office after being moved to another position and asked me how could I have been successful? I said you could have deferred to your managers experience. This District Manager wanted to lead but did not know how to manage the districts most important resource, the managers.

I have read numerous book on leadership and management. One book that combines the two is Craig R. Hickman’s 1990 book, Mind of a Manager Soul of a Leader.” In his preface he makes a statement that is the most important reason to read this book. Craig states, “roughly rate yourself as more of a manager or more of a leader with respect to the issue in question. You may be surprised to find that, sometimes you manage, sometimes you lead, and sometimes you do a bit of both. In fact, as you read each chapter, keep in mind that most people operate with a combination of managerial and leadership skills. Rarely does one individual always manage or always lead.” Wow, as a first line manager what a reason for me to read his book. My role as a manager is to carry out our company’s mission; but, as a leader I know I must be challenged to find the best ways to do it. This means change.

A rider who mounts a horse and spurs it before taking the reins in his hand does not know the direction the horse will take. The rider must take the reins in hand first to provide direction. Also, it also helps to know the character of the horse. For instance, if you are going into battle it would be good to know if the horse is gun shy.

Point is, leaders must know where they want to go, know the resources of their organization, know how to manage these resources, before they can lead the organization to success.

I hope I have my case: Leaders must manage to lead.

Some books I enjoyed by and about leaders:

Mind of a Manager Soul of a Leader by Craig R. Hickman

Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman

Memoirs of the Confederate War for Independence by Gen. Heros Von Borcke

The Long Roll a novel by Mary Johnston

A Southern Women’s Story by Phoebe Yates Pember

Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer by Gen. Sorrel G. Moxley

Reminiscences of the Civil War by Gen. John B. Gordon

A diary from Dixie by Mary Chestnut