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Seven Cardinal Sins Committed by an Hotelier! (Part II)

HOSPITALITY MATTERS Aruna DhirWHILE WE ALL CAN BE ACCUSED of being guilty of all or some of these sins to varying degrees, our effort must be to seek penance by our noble thoughts and wise actions. We must aim to rise above the bar and attempt to not commit any of these sins, at least consciously – both at work and in life!

The non-believers and agnostics amongst us will, no doubt, be disbelieving about the ‘punishment in hell’ blocks. But even the most rational of us will agree that heaven and hell exist here and now. At the workplace, punishment can take the form of soiled reputation, defamation, legal suits, blacklisting, losing one’s job or position right up to rendering oneself completely un-hire-able.

Read on about the remaining FOUR sins in this part. You can have a quick look at Part 1 here.

  1. Lust

Just because we work in an industry that works through the day and the night does not mean that we consider it a place where ALL our basic needs be met and desires be fulfilled.

We lust for money, we lust after power and fame, and we crave carnal pleasures. That is human nature – as we’ve all come to learn and live. But then, we have also learned to live within the realm of ethics and virtue that stand tall between being lawful and illegal; grossly improper in conduct or within propriety.

Hotels present enough opportunities and have several hidden nooks and private spaces which propel secret rendezvous. Then, the work environment and hours are such that many love stories can blossom into a walk up to the altar. And that is kind of nice and fascinating about the industry.

What we have reservations against is one-sided lust or emotion driven by desire to gain out of it or control someone or harm another or just as a past time when energies should go into productivity and honest output.

Several office romances have grown up into wedded bliss. Some spouses have continued working together in the same establishment; others have worked out different arrangements. But it all has been a wholesome outcome. And that is what is sought. We must remember that romantic emotion is rational and thought over, while lust is insane, unbridled and irrational.

I have seen flushed faces staring back from quiet Ballroom stairways. I have unwittingly caught red-handed passion-stealers on guest floors. Back of the house Duty Manager’s Desk, abandoned work stations, under-lit hallways, even unoccupied guest rooms have been breeding areas for those bitten by the love / lust bug. I have personally warded off interest from an overly keen boss, a colleague with a glad eye, as also an over-friendly guest. Lust is not uncommon in hotels; like in a lot of other places.

What is strongly objected to; is when lust at work takes the nasty forms of sexual harassment and sexual favours for promotions, job security and preferential treatment. Further a lustful relationship at work is unethical, it is against corporate mission, vision and goals and clouds good judgement on part of the workers involved. It eats into productive time and useful energy that would otherwise be put to decent work. It leads to gross misuse of office resources. Behaviour such as this puts a blotch on your reputation and credentials and hinders your growth and development. Lust and similar inordinate behaviour make you unprofessional and shave off years of hard work gone into assiduously building up a personal brand.

Not just the above mentioned connotation; lust for money, success, power is based on an unreal, unethical premise that will not serve you in the long run. There are enough examples of stalwarts and superstars who have fallen into the abyss of shame, ignominy and anonymity; and they have found it difficult to embark on the scaling up once again.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell – You’ll be smothered, not in kisses, but in fire and brimstone. Dante’s Diktat – You’ll be forced to walk within flames to purge yourself of lustful thoughts and feelings. And then blown back and forth by the terrible, hurricane-like winds of a violent storm (symbolic of your own lack of self-control), without rest.

  1. Pride

We all our guilty of this; in small doses or big dollops! The organisations we work for are one of the biggest reasons for creating a sense of false pride in us. The fault lies with us as the lines between these mega brands we represent and our own selves get blurred so much so that we think we are the Brand. Custodians, Ambassadors, Representatives yes; but we are not THE brand in its sense of opulence, luxury, fame and reputation. Yet, we hear the commonly uttered chant, “Don’t you know I am so and so from XYZ.” Do we take a minute to reflect on the fact centered on what will become of us if the XYZ is removed from our calling cards? If we were to view the reality for what it is, we would be a lot humbler and shorn off affectations.

We are proud about the companies that have hired us, the designations we can boast about, the flashy lifestyle that those roles have bequeathed on us, the associates and affiliations the company has brought closer to us. Did you notice, I said ‘about’ and not ‘of?’

This arrogance, vanity and sense of self-importance is the cause of our undoing. All sacred writings known to man define Pride as “an excessive belief in one’s own abilities that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise.”

Pride is the worst sin that destroys all our senses – it blinds us from seeing what is right and fair, it shuts our ears from voices of reason, it disrupts our thinking, it makes us ravenous for more false adulation and flattery, it steals the kindness and compassion from our hearts and minds and it makes us utter such awfully damned things about ourselves that continue to haunt us all along our personal and professional journey.

Pride makes us paint a distorted, unrealistic image of ourselves as superior workers, better than the rest. It throws a spanner in our learning process and stunts our mental growth.

People with Pride as against people who are proud of their work, their skills and their workplace (and there is a marked distinction between the two) are usually disdainful of others, are destructive of the team spirit and are sheer killjoys to work with. They enjoy bringing in fear psychosis into the environment they dwell in and are parasitic in their equations, always wanting to gain more out of others unrealistically and disproportionately – be it recognition, rewards, riches. People with arrogant pride step on others to prop themselves up, are myopic in thinking as they wear blinkers of pomposity, excel in alienating others, imprison themselves in their constricted castles of conceit and erode the healthy work environment with their pronounced negative effect. People afflicted with hubris are so greatly self-centered and have an intense love for the self that they fail to see beyond themselves. Hence, they fail to acknowledge the good deeds and good work of others. The worst sinner is a grossly proud and supercilious boss as he or she stomps out all good energy and from him flow harmful traits of fear, flattery, wasteful fawning, falsification and fantasy that is as far removed from reality, rectitude and efficiency as anything can be.

What is mindboggling is the fact that pride stems from low self-esteem, a complete disregard of the status quo and outright rejection of others and their sound opinion. It is said in the Bible, “Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.” And Pride has the propensity to bring about the downfall of the ‘prideful’ individual and destruction of the workplace in which such people fester. Dante defined Pride as “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbour.” Extrapolate this to the work environment and see the quantum of venom and viciousness it unleashes.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell – You’ll be broken on the wheel. Dante’s Diktat – You’ll be “forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on your backs to induce feelings of humility.”

  1. Sloth

There was this Banquet Operations Manager in one of the hotels I worked for, who had created quite the reputation for himself. If the gent was missing from action in the post lunch hour, we all knew where he would be. Often, the Manager was startled back into action from his afternoon siesta which he stole in his bunker tucked away in the lockers and brought back to an urgent meeting in a laughably dishevelled condition which led to a lot of titters, winks and nudges.

At another hotel, there was this Human Resources Director who became a butt of inside jokes for the afternoon power naps that he just had to take. I remember getting into his shoes during the course of a certain Food Festival for promoting which I had to entertain my media friends for elaborate lunches and dinners. Getting back to the work station post these soporific lunches was quite a painful task. But the difference lies in periodic or situational vs. the habitual; the latter being a point of serious concern.

There are lazy people by nature and bearing and there are people who get slow for a certain period of time on account of immense work pressure that threatens to keep them on their toes for time that stretches well beyond the witching hour. We know that operational staff in hotels come under the latter category – Rooms, Housekeeping, Kitchens, F&B – our mates from these departments keep the hotel buzzing through the day and night. Regardless of the shift, feeling not so bright and up and about at all times is absolutely excusable and cannot be slotted under sloth.

We are talking of those of us who are in the habit of delivering their shoddy, unproductive best on account of an inherent behavioural pattern of being slow, tardy, lazy and lackadaisical. We are also talking of those times, when the best of us are hit by the wave of languid inertia and shameful indolence that eats into our office time, office reserves and supplies, our fecundity, the Company’s bottom line, our reputation and that value that we bring to the table. Sacred books also view Sloth as the ‘failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts.’

Sloth conjoined with its close cousin ‘procrastination’ works towards sending your output to the outpost of leisure & lethargy and your mind to a suspended state of vacation.

Lazy workers and slackers can easily be accused of theft at the workplace – they steal company’s precious time and destroy the day’s propensity to produce. They are destroyers – they eat into Company’s market share and profits by their sheer non-deliverability. They are seasoned annihilators – they kill drive, company morale, customer trust and satisfaction and above all, their own potential and opportunities.

If we are not slothful workers by nature and inherent personality, then we all our aware of several ways to shake us off the stupor and supineness. A drink of water, a brisk walk around the hotel, a quick conversation with another colleague, a little ‘me time’ of music or reading, a spot of meditation, a spurt of office calisthenics or stretches – all are known to bring the gush of energy back into us. For those whose CV should have sloth mentioned somewhere amidst similar other strengths (err weaknesses) must be sent for mental training, behavioural coaching and must be reprised of the Company mission and goals. If all this fails, then either they should not be hired or relieved very quickly.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell – You’ll be thrown into snake pits. Dante’s Diktat – You’ll be made to “run continuously at top speed.”

  1. Wrath

Machines don’t talk back to us or argue. Machines don’t swear at us. We can kick the sides of machines should they fail to perform to our expectation. Try that with people and you put yourself in the dock for being reprimanded, red-marked or thrown out of your job, depending on the seriousness of your crime.

But hotels, being a people business, give us any number of occasions to lose our shirt. Then these awesome places of work go ahead and give us more reasons, such that we do not wish to put back on the darned piece of clothing.

The Boss is mean and vicious, the subordinates slimy and snarky and the peers downright cut throat and caustic – reasons more than enough to make us see red and get vindictive. Other members of the team refuse to see our point of view, our POV is not even considered or heard at forums, our good ideas are mercilessly squashed. In the official quagmire, we deal with people who are smarter than us or less endowed – either ways it gets our pulse racing – angry that we are not as good or exasperated on having to deal with the low brows.

The superior rides roughshod over our esteem and endeavours, the associate aims at snatching away, ever so indiscreetly, the credit due to us; and the junior snakes up to gain a firm footing on the ladder at our expense. Life at work can be so unfair and it is our birth right to be angry about it. Right!! But the real deal is; we cannot afford to be angry. The better rationale is, we should not be angry and should attempt at winning over the raging sense of wrath into productive channeling; as this negative emotion is known to harm more and help much less.

With hotels lending a million permutations and combinations to equations and activities, it is not unusual for them to be wrought with elevated tempers. I have witnessed the Executive Chef bellowing out in full steam over his Kitchen underlings. One such colleague showed this aspect of his personality to me and the accompanying TV crew, all because he was excessively stressed over a big Food Festival, the opening night of which was not going his way.

I have sat within ear shot of a red-faced General Manager as he threatened to take the pants off the Director of Materials because the man was not managing to get some consignments into the hotel on time for a mega launch. Another time, the same General Manager with the same hot-headedness lost it on the Financial Controller so bad that we thought he would get up and punch the guy in the face – in the Morning Briefing, with all of us Excom around!

A Managing Director with one of the world’s leading hotel chains recounts an incident when he worked in the Chef’s kitchen as an entrant into the industry. He noted with disbelief how the enraged Chef would chuck ladles of curry onto the facing wall just to vent.

Such heightened drama comes easily to those who have a lot under their hats and belts. Working in overly stressed condition often brings this downside in our demeanour.

While, in all the examples above, the managers have had sound reason to be irrational with their temper but it is never a good thing to lose it publicly. In times such as this, no matter what or who is the trigger, it makes sense to count to ten or hundred and bite your lip in time.

Sharp reminder of divine punishment – In Hell – You’ll be dismembered alive. Dante’s Diktat – “The wrathful will fight each other on the surface, and the sullen lie gurgling beneath the water, withdrawn into a black sulkiness which can find no joy in God or man or the universe.”

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L. Aruna Dhir
L. Aruna Dhirhttp://www.larunadhir.blogspot.com
L. Aruna Dhir is a Hospitality & Feature Writer and Columnist for some of the world’s highest-ranked Hospitality publications. Her industry writings are syndicated to the finest global hospitality bodies and used as references in case studies and hotel schools. Aruna runs an exclusive channel on the award-winning media digest, BizCatalyst 360° called “Hospitality Matters” based on her hospitality industry insight and commentary. Aruna is a recognized and national-poll winning Corporate Communications Specialist, PR Strategist, and Writer. A seasoned hotelier, Aruna loves to present hospitality industry watch, insights, case studies, and analysis to her ever-increasing base of global readership. Aruna has over two decades of experience in Hospitality Communications and Brand Management and has worked with some of the best global hotel companies. In her last corporate role, Aruna was the Director – Public Relations at The Imperial New Delhi, where she was part of the core group and was responsible for re-launching The Imperial as one of the finest hotels in India and Asia. Aruna’s hotel experience includes leading the Marketing Communications and Public Relations portfolio for flagship properties at The Oberoi Group and Hyatt International. She also helped launch the Vilases as the uber-luxury experiences from the Oberoi stable. As an industry expert, Aruna has launched brands, developed training modules, created standardization dockets on business communication, written manuals, conducted Image Study & Positioning Analysis, and led media campaigns of Australian Ministers in India. Aruna Dhir’s successful work tenure with Australia’s Diplomatic Mission in India in the capacity of Media Relations Officer, saw her working on a host of never-done-before exciting projects including the hugely rewarding organisation of Australia-India New Horizons – Australia’s largest ever Country Promotion. Aruna Dhir is the first-ever Creative Writer for the Indian greeting cards giant – ARCHIES Greetings and Gifts Ltd. The milestone puts her in the league of Helen Steiner Rice and Amanda Bradley. While with the company she came out with several series of cards sold under her byline – an unprecedented feat that has not been repeated since. L. Aruna Dhir also dabbles in poetry and has to her credit two titles of Anthologies published and marketed by Archies G&G Ltd. Aruna serves on the Board of Association of Emerging Leaders Dialogues (AELD), a front-running Commonwealth Body that works towards developing leaders and influencers of tomorrow, with Princess Anne as its international President. Aruna has been engaged in freelance work for Doordarshan – the Indian National Television, All India Radio, and Times FM. Academically, L. Aruna Dhir topped at the All-India level in her PG Diploma in Public Relations and Advertising. Aruna has been a Ph.D. scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, akin to an Ivy League in India. She has earned a Senior Management Course Certification from the Oberoi Centre for Learning & Development in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow; V Dimension Management Company, London & Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines. Aruna Dhir has represented India to a select group of opinion-makers in the United States, as a Cultural Ambassador under the GSE Program of Rotary International. She has also participated in the IXth Commonwealth Study Conference held in Australia and chaired by Princess Anne. Aruna is a Life Member of the Public Relations Society of India A Freelance Writer since 1987, with articles that have appeared in India’s topmost newspapers and magazines, Aruna is also a blogger, a memoirist with works published on platforms like Medium and a Book reviewer on Goodreads. In her official and personal capacity L. Aruna Dhir has and continues to work on several social awareness projects – People for Animals, Earthquake Relief, National Blind Association, PETA, WSPA, Change.org, Friendicoes to name a few. Born at Allahabad (now Prayagraj), one of the world’s oldest known cities, L. Aruna Dhir grew up and did her schooling in Dehradun, regarded as a prominent seat of academia and literature. After being brought up in the sylvan surroundings of the verdant Doon valley, Aruna chose to make the Capital City of Delhi her second home.

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