Leadership Blog

Posted By: Eva Grabner | on July 31 2015

People Management – Are you a leader or an Ostrich?

Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.” Anne M. Mulcahy, Former CEO, Xerox Corporation

Working with people. Possibly the hardest job ever. But most of us, irregardless of what we do will work ‘with’ people in one form or another. We are all different, we are all unique and we all have our ‘quirks’.

I have an old shipboard colleague that runs a small bed & breakfast in Blackpool, UK and he posts about some of the questions he gets asked by his guests on Facebook. It’s a constant source of amusement and I never fail to shake my head at what comes out of some peoples’ mouths.

Having worked in the hospitality and tourism industry for the majority of my life in Ireland, Austria, Canada, the USA and Australia (to name but a few), you would think that nothing surprises me anymore. Well it does. Daily!

Ten years working on cruise ships in roles involving dealing with guests, crew and my own team has taught me patience and tolerance amongst others. We still laugh at the questions we were asked such as –

  • ‘Do the crew live onboard?’ – No, we fly in via helicopter daily!
  • ‘What time is the midnight buffet?‘ – Um, midnight?
  • ‘Do the stairs go down as well as up?’ – Possibly …
  • ‘Is there water all around the island?’ – It’s an Island 🙂

I could go on forever, in fact, I wish I had recorded some of the questions we heard over the years and published a book. I would be a millionaire now!

Recruitment is similar as is any form of staff management. We deal with people. Every one of us is different, every one of us has a ‘story’. Are you a people person? Do you struggle with that concept? Can your staff approach you with ease or do they avoid you? Is your workplace a happy and productive one?

My beautiful friend and colleague Mark Shannon, may he rest in peace, trained me many years ago as Chief Purser onboard the beautiful Sovereign of the Seas. When he was signing off the ship and leaving me with my team and my responsibilities. He said to me ‘Eva, the job is easy, it’s the staff that will take up all of your time’. At the time I laughed, but boy was he right!

Managing staff is possibly the most thankless job in the world. To be a good manager, you must be a good listener and excellent problem solver. You have to know, and understand every person working for you so you can effectively motivate them to deliver excellence each day. If you do this, the business will be a great place to work. Happy and productive employees create a great culture than drives employee retention and greater profits. Easy in theory – much harder in practice! But it can be done, even with the most dysfunctional team.

I recently added a HR Consulting arm to my business. Mainly because I saw so many small business owners struggling with staff and the whole concept of HR. I work with an amazing woman who runs this side of the business with me and works hand in hand with business owners to develop, mentor and motivate their staff. One particular client whom I handle personally has seen a 180 degree turnaround in staff morale since she applied a number of the principles and processes that I recommended. I am so proud of that. I love dealing with people, it’s what I do.

If you are amazing at what you do but hate the ‘HR’ side of things, call me. I can help. In fact, I can assure you that by working with us, you will enjoy work more, have happier and more productive employees and, ultimately make more money in your business.




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