IN FOCUS: Neil Braude, GM, The Cavendish, London

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The Cavendish London has just been shortlisted for Best Hospitality Employer 2014, by Caterer.com and People Insight. General manager, Neil Braude reveals exactly what it is that makes his staff go the extra mile

“For us, it’s all about the culture. Without the risk of sounding too cliché, it’s the family culture we instil in our staff right from the get-go. We very much encourage an open door policy, so that staff at any point can come in and have a chat, raising any issues. Be it work-related or just general life advice, it’s about making sure we are approachable.”

How does your hiring process work?
“It all centres on our vision of values.
“We have a system which we work towards called the Shine Culture, and we carry out this training with all new starters. They may not have realised it, but employees have already been judged on this set criteria in their interview, and were actually chosen on the fact that they fitted well with this culture already.”

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What’s key for you as GM?
“It’s vital that as general manager I set the culture and live by it. It’s all well and good saying ‘these are our values’ but if you’re not living it yourself then there really isn’t any point. It’s my role to demonstrate these cultures so that staff can see and follow them. It’s important to ensure that all senior management are onboard with this culture as well; if managers behave in a certain way then staff will begin to think it’s acceptable and this can quickly snowball.”

How do you reward staff?
“We offer quite a lot in terms of recognition. One thing is our Shine voucher scheme; any staff member can recommend or give a voucher to another employee for any reason. It could be somebody had to leave a shift early due to sickness, and a colleague kindly stayed behind for a few extra hours to cover the absence; this could warrant a voucher recommendation.

“Another way for staff to gain recognition is if they are personally named on a satisfaction form or via a comment on TripAdvisor. They’ll straight away be rewarded with a £10 Love to Shop voucher. It’s pretty generous really – some staff members have even saved up for holidays just on the vouchers alone!”

What’s your definition of bad management?
“Managers who think they can operate and succeed without their team; it doesn’t matter how good you are, if your team aren’t performing under your leadership, then something’s not working.
“Also, people who fail to listen to their staff or the opinions of staff – it’s often the way that staff know more about how things are running than their managers, so it’s not right to ignore them and take employees for granted. You need to appreciate staff; 90% of employees generally want to do a very good job.

“Bad managers also think that knowledge is power and going to a meeting is like being involved in some sort of secret club. It’s important to share things with staff and be open and honest with them; they’ll be much more likely to approach you with issues that way.”

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