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!

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

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.

Positive Change in the Management Will Change the Organization Positively

Management was considered a skill and art. People said leaders are born. Then people said leaders could be inspired. Now people say that leaders could be trained. It is true that we could be trained and taught to become leaders. Management is a leadership skill. The best leadership ever is the leadership by example. If the example is right then the understanding will be full. If the example is not right then the understanding will not be right.

Companies and organizations have managers and management levels. Smaller companies might have only one level of management and there might be only one individual as a manager. Larger corporations have different levels of management. There might be junior managers who directly deal with base level employees. There might be middle managers who interact between the junior managers and the senior managers. There might be a higher management team which would be at the top of the organizational structure.

If an organization is established to be bigger, the management would have been planned and structured beforehand. Most organizations that are worldwide and famous now, were not planned to be so when they were initiated. If you take any of the gigantic businesses, corporate companies or organizations, most of them were not meant to be grown into worldwide entities. In fact, some of the current successful and worldwide businesses were opened up for fun. We can consider the United Nations Organization as one of the very few organizations which were meant to be worldwide as they were established.

The change becomes necessary when the organization transforms from a small group of people having fun to a larger entity of importance in the society. When Facebook was launched, it consisted of only one manager; the founder himself. Now it has over 10,000 employees with different levels of management. Google was started with two people. Now it has more than 57,000 employees worldwide. This is the transformation that takes place when a company or organization grows.

All companies had to face the issue of transforming from a smaller stage to a bigger stage. Once they transform, the organizations which changed their structure of management accordingly were able to survive. The management of whichever organization was resistant to change had to pay the price of losing the organization. If an analysis is done on the organizations, companies or corporate businesses which were closed or sold, then the management would be held responsible for ending up in such situations.

The most effective mode of management is to lead by example. A military is a controlled system that runs by orders. One of the most important aspects in the military is that the leader who is giving an order also carries out that order. For example if a soldier is required to wear a uniform, then the chief of the battalion is required the same. If a soldier is required to carry out training exercises, the commander is required too. In other words, militaries are successful organizations not because the leaders or managers have much authority but because they lead by example.

As a simple fact, if a manager keeps his table clean all the time, he can ask his subordinates to keep their table clean. There will be no opposition. Since the subordinates know that their manager always keeps his table clean, they will have no excuse or reason to give him. The leader gets his authority through his example behavior and not through shouting at people.

Since management is essentially leadership, it should lead by example. The duty of higher management is to make sure that there are example leaders in the middle management. The middle management consists of the most sensitive links with most critical positions. The middle management of any organization is the bridge between the workforce and the managing force. If the bridge is not right, then the journey wouldn’t be fulfilled.

As organizations transform from small to big, the gap for a middle management arises. The top managers might be able to manage 10 staff but not 100. If the top management decided to manage all staff without middle management, it is like building a suspension bridge without any poles in the middle. It will work for up to a certain length. If the bridge exceeds the optimum length, then the strength would be in question.

It is the same with a growing business. There have to be changes to address the needs of tomorrow. Most organizations fail because they try to address the problems that took place yesterday and they forget to think and make a plan to avoid problems tomorrow. In the long run, this kind of organization will have problems piled up from the past and will be facing problems in the future as well.

The aspects of the management should change in a way that the management should be able to think, anticipate and identify potential problems in the future. They should then be able to get ready to face and solve the problems before the problems hit the organization. If this is not considered by the management, then the day to day problems will keep all the staff occupied in problem solving. While everyone is busy trying to solve the problems, the intended regular tasks will be missed. The missed tasks will seed for new problems in the future. Since the management is not willing to change, the same will take place in a loop.

A few managers don’t consider themselves as examples. The manager might not think that he is not supposed to be an example, but the employee will always look at the manager as an example. If the manager is not punctual, then the employee will either become like the manager or will not like the manager. If people don’t like other people, it is hard to take tasks from them. If you are a manager and your employee doesn’t want to take tasks from you, then you are in trouble.

Every single aspect of the manager is critical to the organization. If there are five different managers in an organization, all of them should be together and be leading by example. The employees who look at the managers should get an impression to become like the managers. In a few organizations the founders or the owners make sure that the staff will like the management. If someone in the management is spoiling the name of the entire management, that person would usually be fired.

Some say that the only job of a manager is to hire staff. I strongly disagree. The only job of a manager is to manage. Managing is a leadership aspect. The best leadership is to lead by example. To be a positive example, the manager has to be positive in all qualities. If the manager is positive in all senses, the employees will like the manager. If the employees like the manager, then they will listen to the manager. If the manager asks them to do something, they will do it. A positively qualified example manager is going to ask only something good for the organization. At the end, a positive change in the management will change the organization positively.