Portman Hotel

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The Portman Hotel Company is facing some serious issues after its first year of operations: The personal valet's (PV's) morale is down. 50% quit their job since the hotel opened. Many PVs are not performing up to expectancy. The guests are starting to see mistakes. This gives rise to ask what the causes for the problems Portman is experiencing are. I see the job design as the main cause for the unsatisfactory performance of the PVs. Following Robert Simon's article "Designing High-Performance Jobs", the job design spans four dimensions: Span of control, accountability, influence and support. The hotel asks its employees to "overwhelm guests by the professional, cheerful and immediate response to every request". To deliver such high performance, the four spans have to match and support the hotel's strategy which is not the case here. Span of control means the range of resources for which an employee is given decision rights. The span of control is very narrow, since the resources provided to each PV are limited and not under their control. They have to work on specific floors during specific hours with specific colleagues. The PVs are not supposed to take far reaching decisions but follow the needs of the guests to make the hotel an "enjoyable experience". The span of accountability refers to the range of trade-offs affecting the measures used to evaluate a manager's achievements. Whereas jobs in most hotels are defined narrowly, PVs are supposed to perform all sorts of tasks ranging from typical work of a maid to pleasing the customers at the highest service levels with varying performances at all times. This translates into a high span of accountability where PVs have a wider freedom to work according to unforeseeable customer needs with the trade-off that the performance cannot be measured narrowly. The span of influence corresponds to each employee's sphere to influence the work of others. In this case, the sphere of influence is narrow. PVs experience...
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