Friday, May 2, 2014

Week eighteen – I do!

Some of us have said these two words more than we care to admit, but whether you said it once, twice or more, did you really mean it?

Going home at 4 am and writing my blog! 

Commitment is something many of us are afraid of and often we don’t understand the implications of what it means to say “I do”. These two famous words have been immortalised by the secrete vow of marriage and they symbolise our commitment to a lifetime relationship with someone. And many of us have discoverer that just saying “I do” does not mean we actually do! This week I have come to realise that like marriage, in every aspect of our lives we say “I do” but are we really committed to what we say “I do”?

Taking a rather cynical view of this I started to analyse what is commitment and how does it manifest in our every day life. As person who has been married twice I knew that in the past I have not always taking commitment seriously enough. So in my quest to find out if this is something we just say because we have to or society pushes us to commit to things we don’t really want to do or believe in. This year I will be celebrating 23 years service with my company, and when I start to analyse where I came from and where I am now I know that I am committed, otherwise there is no way anyone could stay around for so long. But I am only 47 years old and if I start to do the maths, it means that by the time I retire I would have done 42 years service! That is commitment!

And can commitment be also translated as loyalty? I believe that loyalty comes after commitment and only then you can become loyal; you need to know you want to stay to give your self completely. In the hotel industry we find ourselves battling every day with recruitment and loyalty and our biggest expense is replacing valuable employees who readily leave to our competitors. We spend all resources we have to attract them, orientate them, and it is a never-ending road when you think you have closed all your vacancies and someone tells you they are sorry to leave you but they are going to the competition for more money and better career prospects. Many see this as a lost battle, specially when people leave our industry; “we could never compete with those guys, they pay too much” I have often heard people say. But like marriage, I think we are going about this the wrong way.

If I go back to the beginning of the blog, we said commitment is something we take lightly. But most of the time, at least in marriage, we are with someone because we liked him or her. And we engage in the secrete vow of marriage because somehow we are prepared to “commit” to this lifetime relationship. So where does it go wrong then? Simply, once you are in that relationship you need to see what benefits are in it for you – in other words you need to become loyal to that relationship because you see a future of mutual respect and care. So the key here is to invest on that relationship and to foster a sense of commitment we need to have to make it work. It takes time, no one becomes loyal the first day, but we are committed from the start. And that is the answer, if you know you will enjoy a fruitful relationship, you will do anything to make it work, you will commit yourself to ensure it happens and in the end have that loyalty we so much yearn to have.

In the hospitality industry, if we focus on fostering that commitment and create loyalty, you wouldn’t need to spend all that money on attacking people to you business. And don’t get me wrong, change is good, some time you need people to leave your business in order to get new blood in, but there is no need to replace your entire workforce ever year because they found somewhere better.

I’m very lucky that many people I know are committed and also have become loyal. I see this every day, and it is very clear that these individuals feel that it is a two-way thing. I also see those who believe they are committed but are not. Putting in the hours, for example, is not commitment; it is simply not knowing how to organise yourself! And then there is those with no loyalty which time and time again I see, those who truly believe that the grass is always greener on the other side.

And is commitment and loyalty a thing of the past? This question is even more prominent as we see the new Gen Y coming through and demanding new ways of doing things. If you are Gen X, you would have observed an interesting phenomenon; our parents where the generation that worked all their lives for one company, and stay with one person (or at least they tried) Their commitment and loyalty was something you didn’t question, it was part of life life. Then we came along, and we started to change things, it became a two-way thing. “I will commit and be loyal if I know what’s in it for me” we started to ask what do I get out of this? This new generation started to see than one job in your lifetime was not enough (some actually had too many and we question their commitment and loyalty) and in many case also more than one partner in their lives. And now we have the latest generation, where people don’t want to commit; where loyalty is more than give and take, it’s a trend; it’s a fashion and a brand you follow. But when that trend goes out of “trend”, they move on.

Perhaps the idea that commitment is something hard has always been there, from our parent’s time, but as new generations have come we have become savvier when it comes to saying “I do” and we are only ready to commit when we know it is the right thing to do.

Are you committed to what you do, from your job to helping around the house? It is an interesting concept when you think about it; commitment takes a lot of effort, I know it, as I sit in an airport in Kazakhstan at 3 am writing this blog, it is a commitment I made to myself and all of your who read this blog every week. Thank you for your commitment!

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