Open up any scholarly database with the hope of finding information about good management techniques, and the experience will be overwhelming. Everyone has an opinion about what good and memorable managers do – or don’t do. Personally, I’ve found that a good manager is one who allows learning opportunities, and expects mistakes, but makes the employee feel like it is not the end of the world.
I spent more than two months performing an internship at the Park Hyatt Hotel Toronto. Adam was the department manager, and the person I usually reported to. I think Adam was a good manager who left an impression on me for a few different reasons.
During the first week of my internship I missed a day of work. I had been invited to the Royal York Hotel and I was so excited about being able to dress nicely, and receive a free meal, that I sent Adam an e-mail on Wednesday, asking him if it was okay if I missed work on Friday. He said it was alright, but he suggested that I was available for the rest of my internship, because it was only two days per week. Even though he wasn’t angry, the way he said it made me realize that I needed to treat my internship the way I would treat a full-time job. Pat McAbee (2002) wrote that a good manager would let employees know “exactly what is expected of them” (p. 39). One of the reasons this incident sticks out in my mind is because Adam let me know that he expected me to be present every day after that first week.
According to Tom Terez (2001), good managers “provide plenty of learning opportunities” (p. 24). I think that Adam, along with co-workers Atik and Julius gave me time to learn the things I needed to learn. Whenever I had free time, I was allowed to go to the liquor shelves and try to memorize the name of each liquor, as well as the shape and color of its packaging. I also had time to look at websites so that I would know the ingredients of the liquor. I learned what liquors went best with what foods. I was able to increase my product knowledge , which would be an advantage in the future when I worked in the hotel food service sector. This might not seem like a big deal, but it was to me because I appreciated not being given busy work. I was able to spend slower times of the day learning something that would still benefit me once I was no longer an intern.
Finally, I will always remember the trust Adam put in me. Some days we would have 10 to 20 huge boxes of wine, liquor, or food delivered. Sometimes I was alone with very expensive products, even though I was only with the hotel for two-and-a-half months. There were more than 50 kinds of liquor, steaks, salmon, fresh fruit, etc., and I was able to handle it. The process of putting food away into a refrigerator that was –15 degrees Celsius, especially when I wasn’t sure where everything went, slowed me down, but Adam never made a big deal about how long it took me to get it done.
I know that Adam wasn’t perfect. Once, even before my orientation, I was left alone at the front desk. The phone was ringing. Finally, I answered it and wrote down a message on a sheet of scrap paper and laid it on the desk. Later, in orientation, I learned that I answered the phone incorrectly. I didn’t use the correct greeting, I should have picked up the phone before the third ring, I didn’t get all the necessary information in the message, and I didn’t leave the message in a place that it was sure t o be seen. That, too, was a learning experience, but in fairness to me, I shouldn’t have been left alone before I was properly trained to accept incoming phone calls.
Overall, the experience was a good one. Hal Walls (2003) wrote, “What you’re doing makes a lot more sense if you know what you’re doing” (p. 20). Adam was very good at his job, and apparently that is what made him a memorable manager. Jean Thilmany (2004) expressed that, “Good mangers realize they can’t keep all their employees happy all the time.” Adam really tried to put his employees in the positions that fit them best, but being a good manager was hi first priority. Atik was responsible for receiving, Julius looked after storage, Adam usually kept up with the inventory and I went back and forth between all of them so that I’d have the opportunity to learn as much about each department as possible. I was also given the task of pricing. I had to find the cheapest vendors for food. It wasn’t easy, especially when I hadn’t even heard of some of the ingredients.
My internship with Adam also taught me patience. He was happy to answer my questions, if I could find him. Still, I took work home and it was an invaluable experience to learn so much, including how much profit the hotel’s restaurants were making.
McAbee, P. (2002, May/June). Library leadership IQ: What good managers know. The Book
Report, 21(1), 38-39.
Terez, T. (2001, December). You could just spit: Tales of bad bosses. Workforce, 80(12), 24-25.
Thilmany, J. (2004, July). Formula for job satisfaction. Mechanical engineering, 126(11), 2.
Walls, H. (2003, March). Self-awareness plays its part. Industrial Engineering, 35(3), 20.