Managing a Business in this time and positioning it to emerge stronger from the pandemic
– Cecily Liu. CEO at Sheraton Hsinchu Hotel
How are you managing the current economic slowdown due to the pandemic?
The clientele at Sheraton Hsinchu are mainly business travellers from the semi-conductor industry. By early February this, we had already implemented procedures to ensure that guests and staff will be safe, including but not limited to investing in supplies of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). We also reached out to the government agencies in order to ensure that the team had accurate updates of information relating to COVID, and to be positioned to receive financial support for the tourism industry from the government.
Rather than laying off employees to cut costs, we have been taking the opportunity to restructure operations and the skills set of the team, and to use the down time to prepare ahead. Rather than cutting headcount, we have reassigned tasks and experimented with new initiatives such as curbside pickups for the restaurants located in the hotel and having promotions to attract domestic travellers to the hotel.
What are the benefits of being a family business in this time?
The group is a family run business, and the advantages of that become apparent in this crisis. Tough calls still had to be made, including implementing a pay cut at executive level, but this was with the goal of sustaining as many employees as possible through this time. Being an owner operated businesses, we also had the advantage of being able to decide swiftly and in a transparent manner rather than waiting for consensus, and in this scenario, speed is of the essence.
其中一些做法，也正好與我們準備在台中開幕的 MOXY 飯店配搭，例如培訓團隊具備更多功能性，以及精益營運能力。雖然疫情的發生，推遲了好幾個月 MOXY 的開幕時間，必須到今年9月左右才能正式營運，但這也使員工有機會進行跨團隊的學習。MOXY 是以千禧世代為目標客群的品牌，並且盡可能設定為自助式的服務模式。因為所需員工數少、人事成本低，使原先喜來登飯店的員工能夠改變舊習慣，並學習如何更有效地營運飯店。
Some of these practices such as training the teams to be multi-functional and having lean operations, is also synonymous with our opening of MOXY Taichung. Whilst the pandemic has delayed the opening of MOXY by a couple of months to September this year, it has also allowed staff the opportunity for cross learning. The MOXY brand targets millennials, and the hotel is setup to be a self serve model as much as possible. Overheads are lower, and less staff is needed. This arrangement has allowed the Sheraton staff to change old habits and learn how to operate more efficiently.
What preparations are you making for the new normal, post pandemic?
Hospitality will change for the foreseeable future, so we need to be prepared to do things differently. Firstly, we need to ensure that the team has the confidence that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger. We are achieving this by retraining and rejuvenating the core team, as well as planning activities for the team to stay positive and mindful.
其次，我們也升級了喜來登飯店的硬體設施，例如翻新宴會廳並植入新系統來整合營運。我們認為未來要舉辦婚禮的情侶，會更願意自己創造專屬的婚禮體驗。例如用 iPad 創建自己的婚禮音樂歌單，來取代聘請 DJ 現場表演。這些都是我們在硬體和設置規劃上，所進行的一些更改。
Secondly, we are upgrading the facilities at the Sheraton, e.g., renovating the hotel ballroom and implementing systems that will integrate operations. We believe that going forwards, couples would prefer to be in control and create their own wedding experience. For instance, rather than hiring a dj, they might want to create their own playlist just by using an iPad. These are the kind of changes that we are making to our hardware and setup.
Thirdly, apart from upgrading the hardware, we are also working on software or our people. This is a good time to challenge the set ways of running a hotel and reeducate key staff – the consequences of the virus very clearly illustrates that for high touch businesses such as hospitality, change is needed.
國際獵頭、【2030轉職地圖】作者 Sandy Su 蘇盈如
Opportunities emerging from the pandemic
– Headhunter, Author of Sandy Su’s Recruitment Note, Sandy Su
這次的新冠肺炎疫情，導致許多企業遭到市場淘汰，而將風險降到最小的企業，幾乎早在十多年前便針對 VUCA 年代慢慢實施改革與創新。VUCA 這個術語源於軍事用語，由四個單字組成── Volatility（易變性）、Uncertainty（不確定性）、Complexity（複雜性）、Ambiguity（模糊性）。
The COVID pandemic has caused many companies to be annihilated from the market. Companies that have some form of risk management structure in place today, have been slowly implementing reforms and innovations in preparation for such a VUCA situation since a decade ago. The term VUCA is derived from military terms and consists of four words – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.
科技改變了我們的生活，既有的標準答案再也無法 100％ 解決突然其來的課題。為了能夠迎接這些未知挑戰，創新的人才與企業成為這次疫情中的閃亮主角。要打造一組充滿創作力的團隊，與企業文化、組織文化有密集的關係，例如 Google、Amazon、Facebook 的彈性工作文化就是這次疫情的最佳寫照。
Technology has changed our lives, and the existing business management solutions as we know it is unable to address sudden problems or what we might call ‘black swan events’. In order to be able to survive these unknown challenges, innovative talent and enterprises have become the shining examplars of this pandemic. It is necessary to build a team with creativity and have an organisational culture that promotes team work and close relationships. For example, the flexible work culture of Google, Amazon and Facebook are good examples.
In the past, small and medium-sized enterprises ignored the importance of remote work and of embracing a culture of flexibility, perhaps placing more emphasis on growing to become an international enterprise. However, this unexpected pandemic has allowed these generations of business operators to re-examine the issue of digital transformation, something that they did not previously think was of high importance.
Back to the question- what are the job opportunities brought about by the pandemic?
The epidemic has forced many companies that have been slow to adapt to face their digital inadequacy now and make changes while they still can. The first-generation operators are very new to the terms of remote work and virtual meetings; they have always placed emphasis on productivity and of operating at capacity, but in so doing they have been unable respond promptly and with flexibility to the global slowdown of business activities.
In the face of digital transformation, the fastest solution is to directly employ experienced talents or outsource.
Taking this pandemic as an example, the industries that are actively recruiting people are in IT services and the medical industry. There will also be companies that need to implement or outsource digital services, will have job opportunities. For job seekers, how to become the talent needed by the company is the core of maintaining one’s competitiveness.
In addition to technical capabilities, job seekers who are good team placers, resilient and creative will be sought after. Rather than just focusing on productivity, highly valued talents should be able to adapt and develop the business or organisation as needed.
Strategic Leadership – Creativity and Design Thinking
Management guru Peter Drucker said, “The Purpose of a Business is to Create a Customer”. Presented differently, it means to solve customer problems. The economy serves to meet the needs of consumers. The enterprise’s task is to maintain business operations profitably. In this pandemic, international luxury brands have paid more attention to online shopping platforms, top restaurants have launched lunch sets and delivery menus, and the catering industry has started making frozen and prepacked food.
每位工作者持續磨練個人的軟性技能── 4C（Communication、Critical Thinking、Creativity、Collaboration），才能深度發展自我核心能力，為組織內部帶來創新，成為跨界的搶手人才。
Each employee can continue to hone his personal soft skills-4C (Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration), in order to deeply develop his core capabilities, bring innovation to the organization, and become a sought-after talent.
As for how to strengthen soft skills, there is a standard approach but it can be developed if one is self-motivated in the process of “continuous learning”.