Can a hospitality managers jump from Toronto to Vancouver and seamlessly address issues? You’ve already answered no. Experienced General Managers and Directors in the hospitality industry have already addressed several problems, the greatest being cultural differences.

You don’t even need to jump across Canada. Move from Toronto to German ‘Western Ontario’, or jump from one side of the Rockies to the Other side. The cultural differences can make life difficult for the best managers.

One of the best examples I’ve seen of this is in the Employee Handbooks. I’ve coached dozens of managers to create an employee handbook to include in their Executive Portfolio. In Canada when someone asks for a sample of your employee handbook the answer is usually, ‘for what region.’ Or you just pull out a small stack of booklets.

There are few places in Canada where you will not be faced with a language barrier beyond French and English. A single Hotel in Toronto Can have an employee base with 2 or 3 languages. A hotel in Vancouver can exceed this.

Cultural expectations are more difficult to deal with. They effect communication, even if English is the base language. I’ve conducted several seminars on communication where I demonstrate how a single 150 word statement can be seen as affirmation by one person, condemnation by another, and be ‘white noise’, not making sense by another. All of these people may hold a BA, but their cultural experiences make them hear different messages in the words.

Let’s look at 2 aspects of today’s management models, where departments should be limited to 150 people, and for every 100’ of shared space the collaboration needs to increase by 20%. It can take years to switch from an Autocratic, or Paternalistic Management style to a more global management style. Until that happens there will be unmet expectations, frustration, and higher job turnover. To solve a problem, you create other problems.

This new horizontal management method can get out of hand in smaller areas where it is new, and employee expectations are unrealistic. It is much easier in cities like Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, or Vancouver where there is a larger multicultural work base. As long as employees do not let culture segregate themselves.

All of these issues need to be addressed if you want to offer a hotel or restaurant franchise a high quality of management. This is not to be confused with offering customers high quality when they dine, or stay in the establishment you manage. Management quality refers to your ability to predict crisis, prevent problems, and manage with minimal management hierarchy and least time wasted overseeing staff who have the ability to manage their own departments.

Again, this brings us back to the issue of Culture in management. The German management style is built around a strong hierarchy with a strong balance of consensus. The vertical structure is well defined and the responsibility for quality is clearly defined at each level.

In the French style the top managers appear to be collaborating and working with all levels. Instead, they are overseeing every aspect, and they are personally responsible for quality.

Nordic concepts are more democratic. The manager is accessible to the staff, and expected to be willing to discuss problems, meaning someone from housecleaning can approach a director.

Japan’s horizontal management style has been the most studied and dissected style of the last forty years. It is the most understood, and the most difficult to implement in the North American Culture.

In North America there is a strong sense of individualism at each level, with each level answering to the level above, but at many levels there is a ‘pass the buck’ attitude towards responsibility.

It is easy to see how culture compounds problems for a Hotel General Manager with a Chinese Restaurant Manager, a European Hotel Manager, and an American human resources department.  What one person sees as respect for authority, another sees as not taking responsibility for your job.

It creates a cultural chaos that has become known internationally as Canadian Culture.



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