Hospitality Financial Leadership – Bring Multi-Tasking to an End for Hotel Leaders

I am going to begin this
piece with a quote because I know there is BIG TIME pushback on the
idea of multi-tasking. Being so popular in our modern work society
the idea of multi-tasking is more than a fad, more than say IMU
(Individual Business Units) or MBWA (Management By Walking
Around).😊 These are two of my personal all-time favorite
business practices. In the hotel business, we need to be able to
differentiate between when it is appropriate to do more than one
thing at a time and when it is not. Here is a great quote.

“Studies show that the human mind can only truly multitask
when it comes to highly automatic behaviors like walking. For
activities that require conscious attention, there is really no
such thing as multi-tasking, only task switching—the process of
flicking the mind back and forth between different demands. It can
feel as though we’re super-efficiently doing two or more things
at once. But in fact, we’re just doing one thing, then another,
then back again, with significantly less skill and accuracy than if
we had simply focused on one job at a time.” ~ Christian

My opening comment is a bit of tongue in cheek; however,
I’m very serious about putting an end to the idea that
multi-tasking is a good practice to get into and stay with. The
simple fact is the human mind can only entertain one thought at a
time. If you don’t believe me – just try it! Try thinking about
two things at once: like what to make for dinner and how you can
jazz up the monthly commentary next time around. It’s impossible
to entertain two thoughts at once. Back and forth works but
never two together at the same time.
We’re not
built that way and for some of you, that’s enough to prove my
point. For the rest of you, you’re going to need more evidence
and reasoning so here we go.

I for one was a big fan of doing several things at the same
time. Some of my personal favorites were: attending meetings and
reading and responding to email, talking on the phone and signing
checks, conference calls and signing off on daily operations
packages, having a weekly staff meeting and signing purchase
orders, and my all-time favorite was watching the news channel that
constantly played in my bosses office while attending the weekly
executive committee meeting. I was convinced that these mundane
tasks were all being handled effectively and efficiently by me in a
“more than one thing at a time” functional way. It is true that
I was able to do all these things I described together with their
“partner” activity and both tasks were seemingly done. However,
on closer examination, the output or thruput on all of these was
below par.

To understand why we multi-task we must go back in time. We must
remember what it was like to be given a new task and to understand
why we think it’s OK and preferred to mix it up with another one.
The big clue comes from the quote when Christian points to humans
being able to effectively do more than one “automatic
behavior.” For most of us in hospitality leadership, this is the
perfect trap to fall into. This is because we come from the floor
where it’s imperative that we accomplish as many things as
possible with each movement or trip. The old economy of movement or
the modern-day version we call multi-tasking was imperative to
being efficient. Never take a trip on or off the floor without your
hands and tray being full. I can vividly remember my captain waiter
following me around and telling me what I could and should be
adding to each trip in and out of the kitchen/dining room. Same for
anyone in our industry who has tasks to perform such as cleaning a
room, stocking cupboards, delivering luggage or assembling a meal.
All these tasks fall into that “highly automated” class of

This positive and essential skill is one that can, and should,
be taught to all service staff to ensure they are productive and
work efficiently. It will go a long way in saving time, energy and
minimizing stress. We all too often carry this ideal from our jobs
that gave us a path to follow in hotels into our roles as
supervisors, managers and executives. A short blurb I created for
this piece goes like this: Once we were all about doing three
things at once: a second drink for Mr. Howard, clean napkins for my
station and the check for table 12. All of this was accomplished
on one trip back to the dining room. At the same time we know
we’re two minutes out from the entrees being ready for table 9,
we see Mrs. Smith heading to the restroom – better get her one of
those fresh napkins in the next 90 seconds, table 7 needs clearing
and table 10 is ready to order.

We have this holdover from our service work in the hotel
business that tells us we need to multi-task. Now we find ourselves
in a different, new world of being a manager or executive and we
need to change gears to function most effectively. We are now being
paid to think. That’s right, the most important function we
perform is between our ears and that requires focus and discipline.
The ability to concentrate on one thing from start to finish is
what we are striving for. If you have a short attention span and
continually interrupt yourself with competing thoughts you need to
change that behavior now. How do you know you have a focus problem?
Take this simple test: think for 2 minutes about the most important
thing you need to do next. Commence that activity and see how long
it takes you to lose focus and think about something else? That
focus is a muscle and it needs exercise to remain focused for an
extended period. Continue to practice this activity and push
yourself to focus longer each time. Your reward will be tasks being
complete and done, not half done and needing to be re-done again
and again.

Another telltale sign of the multi-tasker is that your work
rules your day. Do you come to work with 100 things to do and you
leave 12 hours later, and you have 110 to do? That’s because
you’re trying to do more than one thing at a time and nothing
really gets completed. Completed is what you want. Done and never
to re-visit is your goal!

Having a routine is also an essential part of your arsenal as a
manager. Without the power to concentrate and a routine, you are
underwater. Does this sound all too familiar? If it does
don’t panic. It’s not a lost cause; you just
need to shift gears and take your new role seriously enough to
realize it requires a different approach. The good news is by
putting new attention on how you work you can change all this
nonsense. It only requires you to stop and be honest about how
things are going and then do something about it. I also have an
article on The Power in a Routine, check it out at

In closing remember this simple fact: Multi-tasking does
not save time, it wastes time; and the good news is, it’s only a
habit. Like smoking, it’s high time you quit.

Are you a leader on the move? Are you looking for a way
to improve your hotel financial leadership skills? Give me a call
or send me an email to connect and let’s discuss how I can help
you with a 1-1 coaching package tailored just for you. It’s the
fast lane to greater career success and your own personal

Are you thinking about your management team and what to
engage them with this year? Consider a half day hospitality
financial leadership workshop.

Do you need a dynamic “hotel” speaker with a unique
and creative financial leadership message for your next

Call or write today and arrange for a complimentary
discussion on how you can create more profits in your hotel by
working with me.

Give the coach a call today and let’s get

If you would like a copy of any of the following send me an
email at

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  • F&B Productivity Spreadsheet
  • Rooms Productivity Spreadsheet
  • Financial Leadership Recipe F TAR W
  • A White Paper – A Six Month Workshop and Coaching
  • Hotel Financial Coach – “Speaking
  • Flow Thru Cheat Sheet – Enhanced

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Source: FS – All-Hotels-Blogs
Hospitality Financial Leadership – Bring Multi-Tasking to an End for Hotel Leaders