Today, I want to take a moment to speak to the idea of falling in love with your job again. Specifically, finding a way to harness and maintain passion for what you do. Make no mistake, if you are in the hospitality business you have one of the most stressful jobs in any of the customer facing industries. Nowhere else is there an almost poetically chaotic blend of multiple service industries. And not only that, but regardless of this blend, it is expected that each and every encounter, experience, bite of food, and wink of sleep is seamless and well received by the guest.
I've been there - when you feel like tearing your hair out because no matter what you say or do, ultimately someone will be upset anyway. Is this the truth? Absolutely not. Guests as a whole are happy, looking to feel welcomed, safe and relaxed. They aren't looking for a fight, there are just a few people who have a lot of fight in them. As human beings, it's natural to focus on the negative but it's imperative to focus on the positive.
Having held management positions in which guest recovery/guest satisfaction would fall on my plate, it's hard to not get bitter sometimes. It's easy to blame anyone else in the situation, it's easy to become frustrated with a disgruntled guest. It's hard to act with grace. But, when you choose grace the end result is one of self-pride. How do you maintain that though?
The first thing I will say, is that it requires truly loving working with people. Hospitality is about the people first, and if you don't enjoy making other people happy, it may not be the industry for you. Secondly, it takes retraining your brain. Making professional changes will always need to be a conscious effort, there is no secret to bettering your passion at work. It's easy to say this but--you have to choose to love it. The same way you might write a gratitude journal for your personal life, write one for your professional life (I'm serious!). Find the things that your are grateful for in your workplace. Even if it starts off with just listing your paycheck, that's okay, that's the start of the mindset shift. Each day try to find three gratitude statements and write them down. When you are at rock bottom and in the middle of the burn out it might say "Paycheck, ability to pay my bills, ability to not be homeless." Yeah, that's pretty much all the same thing, but your jaded mindset will start to shift - I promise.
Next, when you start to feel overwhelmed or burned out, try to remember the things you are grateful for and take a vacation! Even a stay-cation, or a 3 day weekend will help you step away from the professional turmoil and come back refreshed. If you're a manager reading this, it goes for you too, but it is also vitally important that you not only allow your employees to take time off when needed but you need to encourage it. If your employees are stressed at work, but they're too intimidated to ask for time off, chances are they will eventually quit, have performance issues, or cause an issue for your business.
The next thing I can offer is probably the best piece of advice, and that is to act with kindness, grace, and passion in everything you do. Have empathy even for the most difficult of guests. There is always something underlying causing them to act the way they do - and never is it a personal attack on you as a person. When things get monotonous, be grateful for the fact that you have a job that you are skilled at, that you feel comfortable at, and that you understand. Treat each guest like family, and as cliche as that sounds it is truly the heart of hospitality.
I have been to the edge of walking away from the hospitality business, I took a month leave from it just recently, but what drives me back into it each time is that desire to help, teach, grow, and make each and every guest experience the best it can be. To make an impact on a guest's life, is the key.