The human resources department of any establishment is an engine that drives the morale of employees and guests alike. Jose M. Tejada, the Director of Housekeeping Services at Lago Mar Resort and Club, shows us the significance of the field as he talks to us about everything from what he loves most about his career to which qualities he believes each leader should possess.
Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? How do you like living in Florida?
I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. I lived in New York for more than 20 years and moved to South Florida over 10 years ago; I love it here. I enjoy the nice weather and year-round sunshine.
Who do you consider to be your greatest role model?
My mother has always been my role model. She taught me discipline, humility, honesty and integrity.
What initially sparked your interest to pursue a degree in Human Resources Management?
The valuable service HR provides to the internal customers of an organization. Everyone in the organization is a customer who needs your help making decisions. HR representatives need to model a continuous learning ability—not only in their HR profession, but they must also demonstrate a flexible and open mindset in the organization, in order to adapt to the unpredictable nature of humans. People need to feel good about working for an organization with a staff that possesses those qualities.
What does an average day in the life of Jose Tejada look like?
My day starts between 7:30 and 8:00 AM. As soon as I arrive at my property, I start checking public areas, room assignments, meeting rooms, lobbies, etc., in order to ensure that all areas are ready for guests to use in a neat and orderly fashion. Housekeeping management lies at the core of hotel operations and can make the ultimate difference between creating a reputable name for the hotel or one that guests are unlikely to visit again. The primary duty of the housekeeping department is to ensure the cleanliness and orderliness of hotel rooms and to ascertain that they are properly stocked with the supplies to which guests are entitled. A hotel housekeeping manager not only supervises housekeepers in conducting their duties, but also investigates any complaints guests make and takes corrective actions accordingly. I feel responsible for fostering a team spirit among my workers and directing them towards achieving guest satisfaction.
What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you find to be the most challenging part of it?
Since we are service providers, we make a great difference in the kind of experience that our guests have while staying with us. We often get comments from guests telling us that the main reason they keep coming back to the hotel is because the staff makes them feel “special” and like they “belong.” It is truly satisfying to work in a unique setting that is exciting, fun, and fulling.
What do you consider to be the most important leadership attributes?
Leaders should be personable. In other words, they must have the ability to bring people together and to understand the team, while talking to them on a personal level. The leader must also listen to their team’s concerns, empathize with their problems and try to get everyone together in a way that doesn’t leave anyone out.
Leaders must also be motivational. Effective leaders motivate the people around them. They bring their employees together and inspire them to perform at a high level to accomplish goals. A successful business leader knows that he cannot do everything alone and that he needs his workforce. An effective leader empowers his employees and gives them a purpose. He ensures that employees understand how their actions affect the company and what waits for them if they accomplish their goals. By rewarding employees with promotions, raises and other rewards, effective leaders acknowledge an employee’s contribution and keep the workforce hungry to improve.
Lastly, leaders must be emotionally intelligent. These leaders are more likely to achieve results and can efficiently deal with the complexity involved in leading change and organizational transformation. They excel at building relationships that result in a fast-moving, adaptive and resonant organizational culture.
As the Director of Housekeeping, you must have a lot on your plate on a daily basis. What do you like to do to relax in your spare time?
I enjoy taking my youngest son (9 years old) to the park and watch him play basketball. I also enjoy listening to music.
If you could choose 3 of the most important special amenities every luxury hotel should offer, what would they be?
A full service spa, a 24-hour housekeeping and dry cleaning service, and complimentary transportation anywhere within a 5-mile radius.
How do you think bathrobes and spa products, in particular, affect the comfort and overall experience of Lago Mar’s guests?
They feel pampered with a sense of transcending into a luxurious and gentle environment, where most of their senses are engaged.
If you could go back in time, what piece of advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Always pursue your passion. Never give up on what you really want. Have enthusiasm! Like Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it, nothing great was ever achieved.”
Do you have a personal mission statement or outlook on life?
My outlook on life is reflected in these two quotes:
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious
privilege it is to be alive –
to think, to enjoy, to love.
– Marcus Aurelius
He who can give thanks for little
will always find he has enough.