Understanding the Challenges in Hospitality Leadership
It’s disheartening to learn that 60% of newly promoted managers fail within their first two years.
The transition to a regional manager role in the hospitality industry is both exciting and challenging. The demands of this role, which involve managing multiple teams across different locations, bring unique challenges that require special attention.
So let’s look at the reasons behind this alarming failure rate. I’ll offer insights into the struggles faced by newly promoted regional managers in hospitality, and provide a few practical solutions to help you avoid becoming part of that statistic.
Regional managers in the hospitality industry face a lot of challenges.
They are responsible for overseeing and coordinating teams across various locations, ensuring consistent service quality, managing operations, and balancing short-term objectives with long-term strategic goals. The pressure to perform and inspire greater performance from their teams can be overwhelming, particularly when transitioning from a role focused on our individual contributions as a site manager to one centred around inspiring the success of a multi-site team.
A significant factor contributing to the failure of newly promoted regional managers in hospitality specifically, can be the lack of adequate preparation and support.
The fast-paced nature of the industry often leads organisations to prioritise operational needs over leadership development. This oversight - while understandable from an operations perspective - can leave managers ill-equipped to handle the unique demands of their new roles.
The truth is that for regional managers to succeed, hospitality organisations should really invest in comprehensive training and development programmes specifically tailored to the challenges faced by regional managers in this industry. Sadly, this doesn’t happen as a matter of course.
Transitioning from a role focused on individual success to one centred around team success requires a significant mindset shift. It involves shifting from a "doing" mentality to a "leading" mentality, prioritising team development and empowerment over personal accomplishments.
This shift can be challenging because it requires letting go of micromanagement tendencies and trusting team members to execute their responsibilities effectively. (For the record, when I say ‘can be challenging’ I mean can be really challenging. If you’re struggling with this, you are not alone.)
To avoid becoming part of the 60% failure rate, regional managers should actively develop their leadership skills - which I appreciate is me stating the obvious! One thing that can really help is looking for opportunities for growth and development, such as executive coaching, hospitality-specific leadership workshops, or in-house mentoring programmes.
Building your skills in effective communication, team building, conflict resolution, and strategic thinking is utterly essential for success in this role. If supporting the newly promoted is done well, the time spent supporting and developing regional managers will enhance their leadership capabilities and drive positive outcomes for their teams and therefore for their organisations.
Let me state the obvious again here - I’m talking about the bottom line. Supporting new leaders reaps profit.
I know this is something I speak about a lot, and I do so because it’s essential to your success.
The most successful regional managers prioritise building strong relationships with their teams and stakeholders. Establishing open lines of communication, providing a sounding board for team members' concerns and ideas, and fostering a collaborative environment is key to building trust and engagement.
It’s not overstating it to say that trust and engagement are the cornerstones of all successful teams.
Regional managers should also encourage cross-team collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and best practices to create high-performing teams. Finding yourself in a situation where the teams you manage are keeping best practices to themselves to give themselves a competitive advantage isn’t great and will mean that strong leadership from you is even more important.
If I was to give one tip to help prevent you from being part of the 60% failure rate and increase your chances of a wonderful career as a regional manager in hospitality, it is this: focus on effective delegation.
Yes, it’s hard in the beginning because we’re used to being in the same physical location as those to whom we delegate work but trusting and empowering team members to take ownership of their tasks and decisions not only relieves the burden on us but also allows our team members to grow in their roles.
Instead of micromanaging delegated work, we should instead assess team members' skills and provide the necessary support and resources to ensure their success with delegated tasks. By delegating effectively we can build a strong and capable team that not only drives success but also reflects well on us.
The high failure rate among newly promoted managers in general highlights the need for both organisations and individuals to look carefully at the challenges those taking up a management position face.
My own area of specialism is regional management in hospitality and I know from experience that the huge challenges that new appointees wrestle with can be massively reduced with the right support. By recognising and acknowledging these challenges, as well as the historic failure to offer adequate support, hospitality organisations can better equip their own regional managers for success.
One last thought - the onus isn’t all on the organisation. Regional managers themselves should focus on developing leadership skills, building strong relationships, and effectively delegating tasks.
By taking these proactive steps, regional managers can navigate the challenges of their roles with confidence, drive team performance, and increase their chances of thriving in this dynamic industry.
If you're reading this and thinking 'This is me! I'm struggling with some of this!', perhaps we should talk? DM me, a conversation with me costs nothing and it could be the best conversation of your career!
About the Author
Melissa is a Leadership Coach and Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator based in Dorset, with a particular interest in supporting people who are stepping up from managing individuals to leading other managers.