Top 10 issues with “Managing Family Style”!

As a hotel consultant based here in Thailand, I frequently observe hotel and resort owners and senior managers informing employees that it is the owners or managements wish that everyone should work as a big family!  Even every new employee is informed that this is the owners wish and concept!

It all sounds so good, so sweet, so kind and so inviting, doesn’t it?

However, based on over 24 years of sold hands-on and consultation experience here in Thailand and Asia, I cannot recall one single hotel or resort which has been very successful with that kind of vision and philosophy!  However, there might be some very unique and very small hotels and resorts with a very simple operation where this concept might work!

All those other hotels and resorts, representing the fast majority of businesses, did end up with a very political working environment, low productivity, high staff turnover, low profits, not so good service and out-dated concepts and systems, and most times, they owners and management did think they are still doing very well until the operation was not controllable anymore!

Some might ask now why those hotels and resorts with such lovely vision end up with such a failure.

Again, from my extensive experience and research, the followings do contribute to failure when choosing a ‘family style” working environment here in Thailand and some parts of south-east Asia.

Before reading the below, you need to be aware that family values and connections here in Thailand are very strong and it is considered a big shame if someone betrays the family or not work towards the families shared goals.  Here, a family must be protected, respected and cared for at all time!  It is also not acceptable or tolerable that any action or behavior of elders or more senior family members are questioned or criticized!

So here we go……

  • As all employees are encouraged and directly asked to treat and respect each other as a brothers or sisters, employees most time would NEVER properly point out, comment or even criticize other “family members” even if there are terrible wrong things done on purpose!
  • Employees will most of the time NOT report to anybody if his “family member” does any un-ethical behavior or even corruption.
  • Employees will NOT want to comment on any ‘family members’ performance, attendance or leak of skills.
  • “Family members” DO work together for the benefits of the ‘family” ONLY!  This often ends up that a hotel or resort loses out on opportunities and income.  Frankly speaking, it is hard that everyone who works for a hotel with family concept really work as “One Big Family”.  Most of the time there are several “small families” in one hotel. Several small groups of families carrying  their own interest and power depending on “seniority” “age” and “hot line” to owners and management.
  • “Family members” must be very considerate to other family members feelings at all times. Therefore NOBODY wants to follow up on any outstanding issues, work and “to do’s” to complete tasks.  (In Thailand it’s called “Kreng-Jai”)  The result is that there is very little progress!
  • “Family style” management ALMOST ALWAYS turns out that certain employees have the mobile phone number of the owners in their pocket  and those employees use this somehow earned privilege to show off to other “family members” and report whatever the owner wants to hear (and many times untrue). The result of this, that ‘un-touchable” employees are created.
  • “Family member” who are older or more senior are trusted more in certain “families”. Therefore nobody wants to listen to any younger or more junior ‘family member”. Even if the younger, newer or more junior “family members” have better knowledge, skills, ethics and education.
  • Senior or older “family members” sometimes take the freedom NOT to follow rules and regulation which is very often accepted by “mom “ or “dad” simply because the “senior family members” did something right and good about 23 years ago or knowing well what “mom and dad” likes to eat, drink or hear.   The result is that other family members feel strongly that “dad or mom” (owner or management) is not fair.
  • In most families, additional benefits are given depends upon the seniority and age, and NOT based on skills and knowledge.
  • ….and finally, as in most families around the world, most of the hard working, eager and foresighted family members leave their own family earlier than expected to find an even better life!  Sometimes they visit the old family, but they never look back.

As one of my former superiors said, “People Are Created” by individuals and society!

  • Good or Bad!
  • Ethical or un-ethical!
  • Professional or not professional!

As a hotel consultant, I know that there would be no politics in any hotel or resort if individuals particularly owners / management would not give other individuals the opportunity to be political!

As senior managers and decision makers, we all have the power to create “professionals” or we can choose to create just ‘family members” who are trained to following only traditions and other people.  Many of those “family members” will never become trend setters, just simple followers!

Klaus R. Rauter; Managing Director

Mai-BS (Thailand) Company. Ltd.

Hotel and Resort Consultant and Training Company

http://mai-bs.com

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2 thoughts on “Top 10 issues with “Managing Family Style”!

  1. Spot on Klaus! Rarely anyone dares to bring this topic up to discussion, but I think its a necessity in order to create a more professional, efficient and open working environment.

  2. Well, yes that article is quite superb…

    So much of what you write there I have experienced in so many companies I have worked for here. I think it is also often the case that when companies do try and move away from this Family Way, they lose a lot of previous/current staff who of course do not enjoy the new professional regime which of course carried with it accountability!

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