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Hourly Blogger: Are Managers the Reason You Can't Find Employees?

Each time the door shushes open, it’s another customer. It’s good for business, but it’s stressful for me.

Any one of them could present a challenge that I haven’t encountered before, and I’m working alone.

There are four people standing in line at the hotel counter. The current customer is checking into three separate rooms, and the computer system only allows me to check in the rooms one at a time.

Per my manager, I should be able to check in each guest within a two-minute time frame. In the best circumstances, that means the first customer alone will take 6 minutes.

Then, the phone rings. I must answer the phone. No other option exists. The in-person guests sigh as I answer the phone.

The phone call is my manager. He says, “Does room 119 have a dog? You did not charge a dog fee.”

I don’t know the answer to his question off the top of my head other than if they had a dog, I charged the fee. I tell him, “I have customers in front of me.”

He snaps, “Call me back” and hangs ups.

Before I finish checking in the 2nd guest, I hear the text tone on my cell phone. I don’t use my cell phone at work for pleasure. I’m old school. The message, when I check it later, is from the manager asking about the dog fee again.

This same manager has access to security video of the hotel 24/7. He regularly watches employees to see what we are doing. If the dog fee was so imperative, he could have viewed the guest as she entered the hotel and her room to see if she had a dog.

He also could have seen I was busy with guests.

Once I’ve checked the current group in, I check about the dog fee. The guest did not have a dog, and she signed off on the penalty if she did. She had made a reservation via a third-party system and whatever she had entered put her in a pet-friendly room in the system. Ideally, I would have caught it and changed her room assignment, but I missed it. I noted on her record “no pet.”

I haven’t completed my first month at the hotel.

During my first two weeks, two-thirds of the hotel was rented by a large group. On a “busy” night, I might have checked in five guests. Less than a guest an hour is not a lot of practice or training.

I’ve done a lot of computer lessons, but few are about the computer system where I need the most help. You see, I’ve got the soft skills everyone wants, but I need a chance to get comfortable with the computer system.

I know what the system can do in general. I just need to know how to make it happen.

After a week, I was left on my own. If I had a question or problem, I was to call the manager on the phone, and he would help me remotely. It was rocky, and there was a lot of him yelling, “I showed you how to do this on the first day.” He may have, but I don’t think he did as much as he thinks.

He also regularly says, “The computer does not make any mistakes,” and “I remember exactly.”

Computers are imperfect as are their users. This week, I found out why some of the information I was inputting was disappearing.

The computer system requires you to input guest information and will NOT save it unless you complete the transaction. I was inputting guest information and then going to a screen to change the type of rate, and the guest information would vanish.

Now I know to make a reservation with bad information that I can change in order to keep the guest’s information. That seems inefficient to me, but it works. I haven’t asked my boss about it because I’m tired of being told I’m stupid. He also puts up his hand so I can talk to the hand. I'm done talking to the hand.

I suspect there is an order the information and screens should be progressed through. I have not been taught that.

Questions I ask are not answered.

At two weeks, I was told to train a new employee. I didn’t feel trained, but the boss/manager left me in charge. We were at full occupancy that night. The group of 40 had left, and situations I was unfamiliar with came up.

At one point, I called the boss when a problem arose. He was screaming so loudly on the phone that the other clerk could hear him as well as the customers across the counter.

I took care of the customers to the best of my ability, and later pondered how much this job was worth.

I know I’m not stupid.

I’ve taught many students and trained many employees. I never would have said many of the things this man has said to me.

When businesses began to reopen, I was surprised when employers were having trouble finding employees. I’m a copywriter, but I was looking for something part-time so I could re-connect with humankind. Stories from people I meet help me write.

But this manager was not what I expected. If he is what others are experiencing, it’s no wonder employees are hard to find.

Maybe these reminders from a beleaguered employee will help:

  • Follow the Golden Rule. If you treat your employees poorly, why would they keep showing up?

  • If you need an employee to learn something, show them as many times as it takes. If you have someone who might be able to show them a different way, give them that chance too. Allow them to take and use notes. I’m not allowed to use my notes when the manager is there. If an employee just isn’t getting it after a reasonable time, let them go. Why beat a dead horse?

  • Be kind and positive when possible. Compliments or a kind word can really brighten a day. I’ve been to work every assigned day. I’ve never been late, and I’ve never refused to work even when I was digging paper towels out of the men’s toilet. I’ve never been told, “It’s nice to see you,” “Good job,” or “Thank you.”

  • Help your employees. Last weekend, a possum took out a transformer, and the hotel lost electrical power. Once again, I was by myself. I called my boss to let him know. He told me to call the power company. The number was somewhere by the computer. I was standing in the dark using my cell phone to call him. The emergency lights over the desk weren’t on. The exit lights weren’t lit. I was talking to guests keeping everyone calm while I tried to get the electric company called without an account number.

  • Listen to your employees. I knew the computer would be my weakest skill going in. I asked for practice and lessons. I’ve done lesson after lesson on brands, image, and going the extra mile for guests. I’d like to be more efficient and knowledgeable on the computer. Teach me what I need to know, so I can do my best.

I went to a sandwich shop today. A sign on their door said they have shorter hours because of employee shortages. A fast-food restaurant down the street is hiring and says they have a 401k. The hotel offers zero benefits.

I haven’t worked fast-food since I was a teenager. I may have to check it out. Smile and be kind to the next customer service person you encounter. It may be me.

If you’re in HR or a supervisor, think about your words and actions. They may be the reason you’re having trouble finding employees.

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