[September 2019] Removing One of the Biggest Threats in Hospitality and Tourism

By Isabel Valle, Founder and Peak Performance Strategist,Global Room


How Adopting a Coaching Culture Can Empower Employees, Keep Customers Happy, and Strengthen Employers

Tourism is one of the major industries in Thailand, and a significant contributor to Thailand’s economy. Tourism’s capacity to create employment is one of the reasons behind its attraction to both developed and developing countries alike. However, the tourism industry in Asia and the Pacific region is currently facing a number of challenges, a major one being shortages with respect to labour in general and skilled labour in particular.

In fact, staff turnover in the hospitality industry is almost double the average across other industries. This is made worse by the tourism industry’s inability to compete against other industries in terms of wages and working conditions, making it challenging to recruit and retain labour in the tourism industry in the region.

The quality of employees hired has a direct impact on brand reputation, revenue, and overall labour costs. If your business wants to attract and retain talent in this sector, then you must also be willing to make changes. Especially, changes in how you operate to support workers in giving their best effort on an ongoing basis.

Extensive research suggests that an important factor for maximum staff retention in the hospitality industry is to invest in training and development. The problem is that many organizations see training as an expense and not as an investment.

The question here is not about what the cost is to train employees, instead the real question we need to ask ourselves is: what is the cost of not training and / or develop employees?


Research shows that there is an actual correlation between happy employees and a successful business. The current and up and coming workforce believes in the value of training and the opportunity to advance in a position. Because they are aware of the competitive world they live in, a job that provides training opportunities satisfies their need to stay ahead of the curve.

Management often assumes that providing training will lead to employees moving on to other companies, but this simply isn’t true. With proper training, employees feel like they are valued and are happier in their jobs, plus a job that comes with training will attract a higher class of candidate.

Training and retaining current employees is cheaper than hiring new ones. Consider this: hiring someone can cost up to 30% of the job’s salary. Turnover is costly, and trained employees work smarter. A company is only as good as its employees, and those employees are really only as good as the resources put into them.

It may seem overwhelming – and costly – to provide a weeklong training or ongoing courses to employees, but there is a better alternative – adopting a coaching culture in your company.


If you want to attract younger talent, it is crucial to pay increasing attention to creating an excellent workplace culture, and here is where hospitality and tourism can really benefit by adopting a coaching culture.

coaching culture is about delivering results, improving performance and making the most of people’s potential. An organisation with a coaching culture is one which adopts coaching practices as an integral way of managing and developing people. The emphasis is on delivering results and making each other (and the wider organisation) stronger and more capable. The aim is supporting employees to build skills, knowledge and leadership strengths.

No one questions the importance of a strong, positive organizational culture. A coaching culture is an aspect of that. It helps people at all levels improve employee engagement, empowers people to excel at their tasks, emphasizes the importance of personal and professional development, rewards creativity, and helps people take pride in their responsibilities.

When top leadership only focuses on profit and loss statements, they may think they’re looking at “the big picture,” but in fact they’re missing quite a bit. Employees must often make quick decisions based on changing conditions, and to do this effectively, they must be empowered and motivated. You don’t do that by putting them through a dry training initiative and turning them loose, but by training and coaching, and helping them learn about themselves, processes, and how to self-correct.


A coaching culture enables radical transformation by fostering certain types of conversations on a daily basis. It creates a climate where people learn how to:

  • Give and receive feedback.
  • Support and stretch someone’s thinking.
  • Challenge people’s performance plateau.
  • Engage in development conversations that are short in length but strong in impact.


Where to Start

To embed coaching into teams and build a coaching culture, it is up to managers to step into this role. A far-cry from micromanagement, coaching involves empowering team members to solve their own problems, helping people to learn on the job.

Leadership in a coaching culture organisation is approached by leaders responding to emerging opportunities by asking questions rather than making snap judgments. This is a simple method that can help managers make this transition into a coaching based culture.

One of the best ways a business can instil a coaching culture is for one or more top leaders to engage a coach (or coaches) for themselves. That way, top leadership can experience for themselves how coaching empowers and takes skills to a higher level.

It’s also important to communicate with employees, both when there are great successes (“How did you do that?”) and failures (“What do you think we should have done differently?”). If there are work teams, then teaching team leaders the value of self-coaching within the team can help. And of course, coaching is most effective when it is working with people who have been properly trained in what their jobs require.

Useful phrases to add to your vocabulary are: how do you think you might approach this problem? (rather than do this, do that). Would you like any input from me? Or is there anything you need to help you make a better decision or plan?

Don’t just take my word for it because of my experience as an ex-hotelier and in leadership coaching. You can find many examples of companies with their own coaching culture that have experienced tremendous success. IKEA, for example, brings its unique corporate culture and management style to every store. They also equip managers with coaching skills that complement that management style. As a result, the company’s KPIs increased by an impressive 5% (whereas 4% is considered significant).

Jeff Bezos of Amazon has long praised the benefits of business coaching, and the coaching environment in that organization involves extensive cross-training, employee empowerment, and frequent communication within the workforce.

Establishing a coaching culture in any organization requires a lot of patience, sincere efforts and strong endorsement by the leadership. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a global consumer & health care company, having its commercial operations in 150 countries, has proven that creating a powerful coaching culture is not only possible to build, but can yield long term positive results for the company. Since its initial implementation in 2010, coaching has had strong support from leadership and CEO. Even more impressive, the organization has seen a $66 million USD return on investment (ROI) from its coaching initiative and more than 60% of the corporate executive team uses coaches on a regular basis.


Companies with strong and effective corporate and coaching cultures are often characterised by high levels of employee engagement, productivity, company innovation, customer satisfaction and having lower than average absenteeism and staff turnover, all driving profitability.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Teaching people how to do this for themselves is better in the long run because it gives them the skills to provide for themselves as opposed to you doing things for them. For example, instead of allowing your team to dump their problems on you hoping you will resolve them, teach them to come to you with a problem having thought of at least one or two solutions or options moving forward. By teaching your senior leaders to coach and your team members to solve their own problems you are setting them up with the skills to provide for themselves or the ability to catch as many fish as they decide they need on a daily basis.

The performance of your organization will always be determined by the effectiveness of every single employee. When everyone in the company can be a coach, everyone benefits.

Coaching culture delivers a great promise — a high performance environment that holds people accountable for delivering results, while fostering a climate of full engagement, personal development, and mutual support. If you take the steps necessary to make it happen in your organization, the dividends could be exponential.

If you want to build a culture of hospitality, there is no better way to do this than by adopting a coaching culture, consisting of a team that is engaged and enthusiastic about providing an exceptional experience by building better relationships with each other and the clients. A team that is aligned and committed to a hospitality coaching culture translates to less employee turnover, increased customer retention, and higher financial effectiveness.

Building a coaching culture in your organisation means a more resilient business, as more people are equipped with the skills to support the development of others. When organizations make coaching a key part of their talent management strategy and overall corporate culture, they show their current employees and job candidates alike that they are committed to the ongoing training and development of their staff. Not only will such a coaching culture help to retain top employees and help prepare high-potentials for leadership positions, but it will also position the company as an employer of choice and enhance its ability to attract qualified, right-fit talent.


Isabel is an experienced Peak Performance Strategist  and Leadership Coach with over 20 years of international work experience holding senior positions within the hospitality industry in countries around the world, as well as Executive and Leadership coaching, mentoring and training.
Isabel specializes in high performance strategy, leadership development and building organizational culture.
More available on www.isabelvalle.com

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