How to manage hospitality teams during periods of extreme stress

In an environment of high volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, it is impossible to fully analyze the environment and come to rational conclusions. The pandemic has exacerbated this because there is no “best practice” that organizations can follow to manage the current challenges.

In this climate, effective teamwork is more important than ever. The amount of time employees spend engaged in collaborative work has increased roughly 50 percent and takes up to 80 percent or more of their time. According to Microsoft, we are on twice as many teams as we were five years ago.

In spite of this, employees tend to not fully commit to our teams. Why do we stand alone? Our awareness of these barriers is the first step in managing the high-performing teams that are so necessary now:

  • Ego: Since childhood, most of us have been programmed to be the winner. It marks a big step in your development when you come to realize that other people can help you do a better job than you could do alone.
  • Insecurity: Some individuals fail to engage in teams because they feel threatened by other people. Someone might take my job or leave the organization! But we have a better chance of advancing AND retaining good people if we help them grow.
  • Naiveté: Many people naively underestimate the difficulty of achieving big things. Our default is to think we can handle everything ourselves.
  • Temperament: Based on our personalities, some of us are not very outgoing and simply do not think in terms of team participation and team building.

There are ample opportunities to overcome these barriers and build our teams right in front of us. Here are some simple ways to help everyone feel included and find common ground:

  • Meetings: Don’t underestimate the power of ice breakers. Use fun and interactive questions that allow people to share and build trust.
  • Structured activities: Plan exercises and fun events that are external-facilitator or team-member led.
  • Lunch and learns: Develop and engage your teams through additional training over a meal together.
  • Company-sponsored activities: Piggyback on these events to lift morale.

Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Laying the groundwork for teams to come together during times of VUCA creates the comfort and stability they need now. And, ultimately, the buy-in for teammates to work together toward common goals. 

Kim Carson is a training manager for Rosen Hotels & Resorts.