For hospitality workers interested in moving forward with their careers, it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin. Managers can help workers by setting goals, but if such goals are vague and unreachable, workers may end up more frustrated with their professional lives than they were initially.
What managers need is the ability to encourage workers to set the kind of goals that drive success. Enter SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. They’re a way of thinking about career advancement that helps take employees out of the realm of vague generalities and into concrete steps. Regardless of how a hospitality worker defines his or her success, using SMART goals can help them achieve it.
Personal goals and business goals are handled differently in the SMART methodology. The focus here will be on personal goals – those that managers can help employees set to increase their competencies and promote advancement.
To begin, managers must encourage hospitality workers to make their goals specific. This includes being career-oriented; it’s fine to want a large house or nice car, but as a goal it doesn’t really help anyone move forward in a tangible way. Instead, look for something that is both well-defined and related to their hospitality occupation: “I want to be working as a sous chef in six months” or “I want to be promoted to hotel manager after earning my certificate”. A highly targeted goal is a good starting point with SMART.
Second, be sure their goals are measurable. Moving toward a goal often requires concrete steps and clear indications of progress, so it pays for hospitality workers to make sure their goals can be readily assessed.
At the management level, goals tend to be business-oriented and easy to measure. A restaurant’s maître d'hôtel could set a goal of reducing the average wait time of diners by 10%, while a resort’s marketing manager might aim to create a radio ad that increases summer reservations by 5%. But personal SMART goals for hospitality workers are often less concrete, so a good strategy is to have them set small promotions and skill increases as goals. For example, a barback who wants to become a bartender can have “learn the drink menu” and “earn bartending certification” as measurable, intermediate steps.
Next, consider whether their goals are achievable. This can be tricky, as managers do not want to discourage their workforce from setting high goals. Still, it is worth emphasizing that while distant objectives can be useful in motivating hospitality employees toward something big, they should have more short-term goals that can be achieved at their current experience level. Encourage workers to mostly set goals they are ready and able to pursue, and have just a few that require long-term patience and dedication.
For many hospitality employees, education is a solid goal from an achievability standpoint. A lot of people enter the field without a certificate or degree, but such credentials are often important to advancement. And they can usually be earned in small, achievable steps, like taking specialized courses that are immediately relevant and can also be applied toward completing a full certificate program down the road.
Additionally, it is important to ensure hospitality staff set goals that are realistic. Challenging is good, impossible is not. If a hostess just entering the industry sets an objective of being an assistant manager in three months, she’s almost certainly going to be disappointed. On the other hand, if her goal is to be a server in three months, she may well attain it and become motivated to pursue higher goals in the future. Help workers set targets that are both ambitious and realistic so that each achievement can drive them to seek another.
Finally, SMART goals for hospitality employees must be time-bound. Long-term goals can have completion dates that shift around, but staff must develop short- and medium-term objectives that are clearly scheduled. Not only does this push them to succeed, but it also helps to move the goal from a vague desire to something with much better focus. “I want to earn my hospitality certificate and get promoted to shift supervisor” is good, but “I want to earn my hospitality certificate by May 1 and get promoted to shift supervisor by June 1” is much better.
Goals are crucial for advancement, so it pays to consider ways to make them as detailed as possible. By taking the time to develop personal SMART goals with their staff, hospitality managers can help chart clear paths forward and improve employee investment in the business.