Are People Skills Becoming a Dying Art Form? by Brian Colwell

Brian Colwell


In all businesses there is almost always a human element which strongly contributes to its ongoing success. For the sake of this article, we will focus on the hospitality industry, specifically casinos.

Within hospitality, the most important attribute of any employee is people skills i.e. the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently in order to extract the maximum effort from the staff members, thus creating a friendly and sociable atmosphere, leading to a positive and enjoyable experience for the customer. This is obtained by awareness and thorough understanding of particular situations and how each person is affected. This allows for right decisions, leading to what’s good for employees and/or customers... and therefore ultimately the best outcomes for the business.

Certain feelings including anger, frustration, impatience and jealousy, although natural, can have a strong, negative effect on business decisions. These emotions are useless and make no positive contribution to the business... or a person’s life for that matter. Instead, remaining calm and composed can allow the employee to remain focused on the job at hand. When a particular situation arises, this demeanour will mostly ensure the correct decision is made, the proper action taken, and the best possible result is achieved.

There are of course many other personal factors affecting these outcomes including ignorance and arrogance, which can be hugely detrimental to a business, especially in the case of a manager. Good management means good leadership. Good leadership means doing what’s best for the group, regardless of the negative effect on certain individuals. It means giving responsibility to an employee whilst ensuring they are given the particular resources and appropriate support in order for them to perform their duties successfully. It also means being a good listener and communicator i.e. speaking only when required, with meaningful instructions, guidance and feedback, thus creating an uncomplicated environment where everyone clearly understands their job description, company policy and procedures as well as business goals.

Some people see a calm and quiet demeanour as a sign of non-confidence, non-caring and weakness. On the contrary, a manager with these traits, along with the appropriate knowledge and technical abilities will remain focussed on their duties and therefore not waste time, effort and energy, thus increasing the efficiency of the business... without unnecessary drama and stress. These managers are also often naturally happier and friendlier making for a more enjoyable workplace.

I believe that this quality within casinos is becoming rare these days; so rare in fact, it is seen as a negative attribute. The fact is that this feature in a manager is intangible i.e. the benefits cannot be easily measured. With the influx of analysts, strategists and accountants entering the industry, tangible data is ultimately always required when forming business plans, analysing, projecting and also hiring, monitoring, appraising and keeping staff members. This is required mainly in order to satisfy the various stakeholders, who do not necessarily have a full understanding of the industry. It is very difficult to analyse and determine the positive effect of good people skills and present it on a spreadsheet or graph. Just accepting the fact that the business is profitable and growing, customer complaints are minimal, employee job satisfaction high and turnover low is merely not enough. Most managers without people skills are usually hiding behind the fact they don’t have this ability naturally and do not fully understand the importance of it, therefore are they using their academic aptitude to cover for their own insecurities? Of course analysts and strategists play an integral part in the financial success of a casino operation, but very few possess the necessary people skills required to communicate effectively to employees and customers as well as forge strong relationships with other external associates including suppliers, agencies, local officials, influential persons etc.

Actually, this situation is hardly surprising given the current state of the world nowadays. With most resources and services becoming more automated, electronic and computerised, life is becoming less social and communal. Our minds are becoming programmed differently and our priorities are changing. As a result, it seems people skills are becoming a dying art form.

The casino business was always under the entertainment industry umbrella; now days, it seems to be more within the finance industry. Will this course be detrimental? Is it wrong, or right, or just different?

Why not check out Brian's latest post at Casino Executive Networks Blogs "Experienced Casino Operators (ECO’s) verses Analysts"

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