employees leadership multigeneration team retention Sep 14, 2023

Cultivating leaders from within – a topic that is crucial for the hospitality industry and highly relevant in the current employment landscape. As the global hospitality landscape continues its recovery and rebuilding phase, it's essential that we create positive work environments and offer clear pathways for career growth.

The current situation varies across regions, with some experiencing a swift rebound while others are still on the road to recovery. During this, the hospitality industry stands as a beacon of opportunity. It offers a dynamic range of career paths for people at all stages of their career journey – whether they're just starting out, using it as a stepping-stone, or aiming for a lifelong profession. Our industry is a space where diverse aspirations and backgrounds can flourish.

One of the most exciting aspects of our industry is its multi-generational workforce. We have a unique opportunity to tap into the skills, experiences, and perspectives of individuals from different age groups. Building leaders in such an environment requires a thoughtful approach that acknowledges the strengths and potential of everyone’s career journey.

Here are five strategies that can help you nurture leaders from within your hospitality venue.

‌1. Embracing Diversity

Foster a culture that values and celebrates your diverse workforce. Every team member should feel valued and respected. Diversity in the workplace provides different perspectives, thoughts, and ideas, and harnesses the opportunities you have within your local community.

2. Foster Collaboration

Encourage open dialogue and collaboration among team members from different generations. Fresh perspectives and shared insights can lead to innovation. There are currently four generations serving within your venue – Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964) are selecting their own style of retirement. We can no longer assume that they wanting to retire fully, with many choosing to retain a part time role and focus on mentoring the younger members of their team.

Gen X (1965-1979 are working for a lot longer than previous generations, and not always by choice! They are not only supporting themselves, but also ageing parents, children, and grandchildren. They are seeking flexibility around their work hours but are often too proud to ask for them.

Gen Y (1980-1994) are now entering their 40’s. They changed the workforce when they entered by questioning the sacred cows and continue to look for a customised fit and feel in their roles and workplaces.

Gen Z (1995-2009) are highly educated and knowledgeable but seek wisdom from their older peers and leaders. They are a highly social group and look for a collaborative approach within workplaces. They are also your largest demographic as patrons and employees over the next 10 years. This generation is conscious that they need to work hard to achieve the things they want in their life, which is a mindset that goes against some of the stereotypes of young people. In fact, Gen Z volunteer at a higher rate than the average Australian and are more likely to work for a not-for-profit than any prior generation. They focus on values, fulfilment and making a difference with their life, which matters far more than just what they can earn. But at the same time, they’re financially conservative. Many are diligently saving for a home and still believe in the ‘great Australian dream’. They want a place of their own and not being able to afford a house is one of their greatest fears.

3. Unearth Hidden Potential

Some future leaders may not even realise their leadership qualities and need to be given the opportunity to showcase their skills by taking on more responsibility. Not everyone sees the potential within themselves.

The landscape has changed in the workplace. Where once it was authoritarian or “tell and do”, now employees are seeking shared knowledge and experiences, while being heard, cared for, and seen. There is no greater feeling than seeing the potential in someone and watching them grow into the leader you knew they could be and, at times, even surprise us by becoming so much more.

4. Map Growth Strategies

Clearly define pathways for advancement within your organisation. It is a well-known fact that employees are more likely to stay engaged when they can see a clear route for career progression.

Regular discussions about career advancement hold particular importance for Gen Z (38%) and Gen Y (29%), signifying a generational shift towards proactive career development. In contrast, Gen X (11%) and Baby Boomers (4%) display a less pronounced inclination towards frequent career conversations.

The journey towards success and fulfilment in the workplace is marked by a delicate balance of recognition, feedback, and proactive development. With a deep understanding of these dynamics, workers can chart their courses towards meaningful careers in an evolving professional landscape.

5. Structured Development

Implement well-rounded leadership development programs that cover the essential skills required for future leaders, including strategic thinking, communication, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and customer service excellence.

With nearly three decades of experience in the hospitality industry, I've witnessed firsthand the transformative effects of investing in both frontline team members and emerging leaders. Through my company, Optimum Operating Procedures and Services (OOPS), I've seen how this investment can elevate your team and your organisation.

But it doesn't stop there – I'm equally dedicated to nurturing the leaders of tomorrow. My Middle Management Movement program is designed to empower individuals with not just managerial skills, but also emotional intelligence and strategic thinking. Together, let's embrace these strategies and create a new era of leadership excellence in the hospitality industry where our teams flourish, and our industry thrives.

Credit: All generational statistics obtained from the McCrindle Research Report, 2023