Set the Tone

Last week I shared some of my take-away points from the Catersource Magazine, Conference & Tradeshow regarding the COVID-19 crisis in the Hospitality Industry. The direct responses and feedback I received really affirmed the importance of this information within hospitality leadership. It has been so interesting and informative to hear how different hotels, venues, catering companies, restaurants, and cultural institutions are each responding internally to this pandemic.

If you didn’t see last week’s newsletter, you can catch-up on here. The number one point I shared was the importance of Setting the Tone. As leaders, your team is looking to you to decide how to react in this uncertain situation. Now is the time to remain calm, factual and focused.

However, as Director’s, no one would blame you for feeling overwhelmed right now. Your forecasting reports are changing by the hour, emergency P&L meetings are happening daily, many of you are making the horrible decision of who to lay-off, and you’re likely re-structuring department duties with a skeleton staff all working from home. You are in full survival mode right now. So how can you ‘Set the Tone’ when the hits just keep coming?

Consider everyone’s mental health. This is something that is grossly overlooked in our industry! I will probably write an entire article just about this one area… but for now, it’s critical that we don’t overlook the mental health of our sales professionals. Many people in our field have a heart for hospitality. They have a passion to help others. They go above and beyond the call of duty every day. They care about their clients, their events, and they strive for perfection every time. Additionally, the hospitality industry is very demanding. We are called to work extended hours, nights, weekends, holidays, and birthdays. Our role is to take care of others, and often at the expense of our own personal health and well-being. This is the moment to shift that paradigm in this industry! Now is the time to support not only the physical health of your team through social distancing and working from home, but also to support the mental health of the team as well. Individuals need a safe and supportive way to process and cope with all the turmoil taking place in their lives right now.

Here are some actionable steps you can implement to offer immediate support to your team:

·  Mental Health Fliers: Many of our clients’ companies offer health insurance benefits to their employees. Contact your health care provider and find out exactly how your team can take advantage of the mental health services available. Consolidate this information in a newsletter/flyer/email/Internal Communication Portal/Hotschedules/Paycom, etc…

o  If there is teletherapy available, share the actual phone number with your team. Make it simple for them to use the service available.

o  Provide the list of in-person therapists and their contact numbers that are in-network.

o  If your company does not provide insurance or have mental health services available, investigate alternative short-term options that you may want to cover for your employees. Some excellent options are available for a range of $65-$99/week and could greatly impact the quality of support your team feels. Resources include:

o  BetterHelp

o  ReGain

o  Talkspace

o  BreakThrough

·  Meditation: In combination with addressing your team’s mental health during this crisis, processing the anxiety and stress on a micro-level is necessary in order for them to remain productive and engaged on a daily basis. Companies such as Netflix, Sony, Toyota, and other industry giants are providing daily guided meditation to their employees to help combat the negative effects of stress. With working from home becoming the new normal, organizing daily meditation through Video Conferencing (VC) is a great way for your team to stay connected at the same time.

·  STAY CONNECTED: Whether your team is working from home or currently laid-off indefinitely, it’s important, now more than ever, to stay connected! For your laid-off employees that you genuinely intend to bring back when the economy recovers, help alleviate their doubts and concerns by keeping them involved. How do you do that, you might wonder? Video Conferencing is going to be the glue that binds us for the time being, and there are several ways you can put VC to good use.

o  Community Check-in Days: schedule specific days and times each week for your team to jump on a VC and connect. Specifically focus on a check-in that does not revolve around the latest corona updates, job status, etc… Use this time to establish a sense of community.

o  Host a S.L.A.M session. S.L.A.M stands for Short Lesson About Me! Each week one of your team could share something in-depth about their life, perhaps a hidden talent, a secret passion, a side hustle, and so-on. Bring the human element back into the work experience, and create a deeper bond with your colleagues even when you are not sharing an office!

o  Virtual Spirit Week-Pick a theme, make a schedule, set times daily, and host a virtual spirit week. Encourage costumes, signs, pom-poms, or whatever else your creative team wants to use to engage!

· Don’t be afraid to have fun! Life feels very serious right now, and it is, but life continues, and we get to choose how we will respond. One of my favorite books is 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership which includes an entire chapter on Play in the workplace. Their research has found that “Conscious leaders who value and encourage an atmosphere of play and joy within themselves and in their organizations create high-functioning, high-achieving cultures.” It’s important to note that this play and joy start with the leadership, in order to ‘set the tone’ for the organization.

This is my message to Directors today. Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally right now in order to take care of your team. Remind yourself and your team to #StayStrong, this is only temporary, and we WILL get through it together.

At Your Service,

Kate Foster, CWC, CMP

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