I can still recall the day I decided that hospitality was the life for me, it was the day I was promoted to floor manager at a small lounge in my university town. The moment I received my first set of keys and instructions on closing up shop, I knew I wanted to take this hospitality life further.
It didn’t take long for the responsibilities and “monkeys” to pile up on my back. At some times, along with school, it felt impossible. I didn’t feel very hospitable at times.
From endless bartender scheduling adjustments, personal squabbles, bank deposits, meetings, training, reps and then marketing, some days I had 50 hats to wear, and I hardly felt qualified for 5 of them. Sound familiar?
Lucky for me, I had an owner who took me on as a “student” or “mentee”. He was a great mentor for a young guy like me.
One morning he told me something that always stuck with me and it’s something I feel every hospitality manager/owner needs to know. It is about monkeys, and not the fun banana eating type.
I was exhausted from a 70+ hour work week and I am sure my mentor could see it in my eyes when I sat down with a triple espresso. I lamented about the problems that seemingly circled me. I must have sounded a bit helpless.
He said “You try to solve too many people’s problems, instead of helping people solve their own problems.”, “If you spend all your time taking on other people’s problems, of course you are going to feel exhausted, cause you still have your own problems to deal with at the end of the day”. he went on “Your role is to help them solve the problems, don’t take the monkeys onto your back, take the monkey (and the person) by the hand and help them train the monkeys into submission otherwise you just become a zookeeper instead of a manager, did you sign up to be a zookeeper Phil?.
I laughed hysterically but he was dead on.
In the whirlwind that is hospitality, monkeys can beat us down. When systems are in place, and the role of the guide and counsellor is taken, you manage the situation instead of interject on it. Sometimes the path of least resistance now, leads to the monkeys, waiting to jump on your back and hold the system down later.
Peter Guber tells is much better than I, take 3:04 to watch where I am sure my mentor stole the story from;