Critical Reflection

In these 13 weeks of CPD learning, we managed to explore how effective interpersonal communication can impact individual, departmental and or organizational success within workplace context. The importance and effect of non-verbal communication were explained through the discussion of how body language and active listening can impact the quality of relationships with others. In addition, verbal communications skills were applied throughout the module as we wrote blog posts in both professional and non-professional settings, such as the formal email introduction and interpersonal communication problem at workplace context. Feedbacks were then exchanged between peers for further improvements.

As conflict is inevitable in both workplace and interpersonal relationships conflicts, we were able to understand the nature of conflict and learnt how can we solve it through different approaches. I found the five conflict-handling modes very useful and applicable as it explains a person’s behavior in two basic dimensions; assertive and cooperativeness.  Towards the second half of the module, we worked in a group of 3-4 people and were tasked to identity interpersonal communication problem in a certain workplace context. For my team, we have decided to focus on language barriers in housekeeping department due to the heavily reliance on foreign talents. All the knowledge we gained over the weeks were applied as we developed synopsis for our project, storyboard and training video to solve the common issue in the hospitality industry.

On the whole, this learning journey has been very fulfilling as it made me a better communicator in terms of effective writing and listening skills.

The Synopsis – Final Draft

  1. The Introduction

According to Adecco (as cited in Chia, 2016), millennials (born between the 1980s to the 2000s) are currently the largest generation in the workforce and will make up an estimation of 75 percent of the Singapore workforce by the next decade. However, as millennials continue to take over the workforce, hospitality industries face high turnover rate and manpower shortages. (Faldetta, Fasone, & Provenzano, 2013) The negative characteristics such as “long working hours, poor working environment, salary and lack of pay and benefits” turn them away from this industry (Tan et al., 2016), especially in labour-intensive industries such as housekeeping.

Many hotels have to rely on foreign talents to make up the numbers of headcounts in that department. According to Faruk & Nedim (2015), in the hotel sector surrounded by people, communication is seen as an important issue for sustainability and efficiency of the organization. John Lagazo (as cited in O’Fallon and Rutherford, 2007) mentioned that housekeeping staff is usually the most ethnically diverse, with an accompanying challenge being the level of English competency and overall education. Thus, this causes them to face difficulties in meeting manager’s and guest’s expectations.

  1. Problem Identification

This report will highlight the interpersonal communication problem such as language barriers between housekeeping managers and room attendants in Singapore. Based on an interview with a housekeeping manager from a four-star hotel located in Orchard Road, housekeeping department generally consists up to 70% of foreigners; with 40% from Mainland China, 15% from Malaysia, 10% from Myanmar and the remaining 5% from India. As hotels rely on a lot of non-english speaking staff notably in housekeeping, it is not easy for room attendants to understand instructions conveyed by the housekeeping managers (HM Staff, 2009).

Language barrier causes role ambiguity and role conflict. A survey cited in Madera, J. M., Dawson, M., & Neal, J. A. (2014) completed by 130 hotels and lodging managers showed that satisfaction, with the quality of communication with limited English speaking employees reduced role ambiguity and role conflicts, which led to increased guests’ experience. This can be an impediment to communication if they have a poor command of English in interpreting guest requirements, and thus unable to prepare the rooms up to the brand’s standards due to confusion and conflicting misunderstanding.

  1. Objective of Study

The purpose of the study is to understand how language barriers can cause a variety of problems in the hospitality industry, which can hamper the communication between room attendants and managers. It will highlight the possible consequences if language barrier problem is not addressed well. Most importantly, this study alleviated this language barrier issue so as to reduce unnecessary issues for hotels.

Some potential issues would include guests having an impression that the room attendants are rude when they do not reply to the guest’s questions, but in fact this is due to room attendants not understanding and their inability to answer back in English. Room attendants may sometimes disappoint guests for not servicing the rooms to guest’s expectations after misunderstanding the manager’s instructions. Sometimes, this can even occur after excessive repeating of instructions and usage of sign language to convey simple instructions to the room attendants, which reduces productivity and efficiency. Most importantly, the hotel reputation can be affected if this problem is not handled well since the guests, managers, and room attendants are unhappy. This leads to fewer returning customers and reduced profits eventually when rooms are not made to the brand’s standards.

  1. Potential Solutions / Implementation for Problem Resolution

Based on the personal experience of a the team member who previously worked in Fairmont Hotel, English lessons are conducted for several room attendants on a rotating basis for half an hour. In the training, basic conversational phrases are taught and it has improved the language barrier issue. It was observed that room attendants did improve their command of English after the training course. Thus, pertaining to this issue, the team intends to implement an English language training program to improve the speaking standards of housekeeping staff. The housekeepers will be rotated to attend this course of 15 lessons to prevent manpower shortage issues and successfully educate all housekeepers. The program will be compulsory for all housekeeping staff with problems speaking the language.

  1. Data Collection/Research Method

Academic papers were cross-referenced from multiple sources to further strengthen the findings, and provide alternative viewpoints on the topic of language barrier in the hospitality industry, specifically housekeeping department. For instance, hospitality managers are often challenged with communication barriers due to an inability of their employees to communicate in English. This created an environment of frustration, stress, and dissatisfaction (Madera, Dawson & Neal, 2014).

In order to better understand the language and communication barrier between housekeeping staff and guest, a series of in-depth interviews had been conducted with employees who have similar experiences in their workplaces. Primary data was collected through interviews with current or previous housekeeping staff to understand more about their day-to-day operational issues. According to one of the team member’s observation during her internship stint at Fairmont Hotel, some common interpersonal problems faced due to language barriers include managers getting impatient for repeating simple instructions, thus affecting the team’s morale.

  1. Benefits

The benefits of having training would be the understanding of the English language for housekeeping staff who otherwise would not be able to communicate with guests in basic English. This would allow ease of communication between guests in the hotel and housekeeping staff, and prevent the occurrence of a communication breakdown due to the language barrier. This would reduce operational issues, and thus, reflect well on the hotel’s brand reputation.

  1. Concluding Thoughts

After proper training procedures have been implemented, the housekeeping department would improve in interpersonal communication where staff; for instance, the executive housekeeper, housekeeping manager, floor supervisor, room attendant are able to communicate effectively with one another. Additionally, housekeeping staff would be able to communicate fluently in English with guests to increase effectiveness and efficiency of the service procedure. This would then improve the guest experience and satisfaction, which ultimately increase profit for the hotel.

References

Chia, A. (2016). Companies take steps to attract, retain millennials. Channel NewsAsia. [online] Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/companies-take-steps-to/2478514.html [Accessed 03 Mar. 2017].


Faldetta, G., Fasone, V., & Provenzano, C. (2013). Turnover in the hospitality industry: can reciprocity solve the problem? Volumen de Negocios En La Industria de La Hospitalidad: La Reciprocidad Puede Resolver El Problema?, 11(4), 583–595.

Faruk, S., & Nedim, Y. (2015). Organizational Communication in Five Star Hotels and Experienced Problems. International Journal Of Science Culture And Sport, Vol 3, Iss 4, Pp 126-139 (2015), (4), 126.

Madera, J. M., Dawson, M., & Neal, J. A. (2014). Managing language barriers in the workplace: The roles of job demands and resources on turnover intentions. International Journal Of Hospitality Management, 42117-125. doi:10.1016/j.ijhm.2014.06.004

O’Fallon, M. and Rutherford, D. (2007). Hotel management and operations. 4th ed. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, p.189.


Tan, Z. M. A., Baharun, N., Wazir, N. M., Ngelambong, A. A., Ali, N. M., Ghazali, N., & Tarmazi, S. A. A. (2016). Graduates’ Perception on the Factors Affecting Commitment to Pursue Career in the Hospitality Industry. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 224(IRSSM-6 The 6th International Research Symposium in Service Management), 416–420.

Topple the language barrier. (2009, September 22).  Retrieved from http://www.hotelmanagement.net/housekeeping/topple-language-barrier

The Synopsis – 1st Draft

  1. The Introduction:

According to Adecco, Millennials (born between the 1980s to the 2000s) are currently the largest generation in the workforce and will make up an estimation of 75 percent of the Singapore workforce by the next decade. (Channel NewsAsia, 2016) However, as Millennial continue to take over the workforce, hospitality industries face high turnover rate and manpower shortages. (Faldetta, Fasone, & Provenzano, 2013) The negative characteristics such as “long working hour, poor working environment, salary and lack of pay and benefits” turn them away from this industry (Tan et al., 2016), especially in housekeeping department.

Many hotels have to rely on foreign talent to make up the numbers of headcounts in that department. According to Faruk & Nedim (2015), in the hotel sector where almost all the work is provided by people, communication is seen as an important issue for continuity and efficiency of organization. However, as most of the foreign talents do have not a good command of English, cause them to face difficulties in meeting managers and guest expectation.

  1. Problem Identification:

The core area of the interpersonal communication problem should be described very concisely. The interpersonal communication problem will revolve around the language barriers between housekeeping managers and room attendants in Singapore. As hotels rely on a lot of non-english speaking staff notably in housekeeping, It is not easy for room attendants to understand instructions conveyed by the housekeeping managers (HM Staff, 2009). This can be an impediment to proper training and supervision if they have a poor command of English to interpret guest requirements too, hence unable to prepare the rooms up to the brand’s standards.

  1. Objective of Study:

The purpose of your study focus and its search for viable solutions to a particular problem should be explained.

The purpose of the study is to understand how language barriers can cause a variety of problems in the hospitality industry which can hamper the communication between room attendants and managers. It will highlight the possible consequences if language barrier problem is not addressed well. Most importantly, this study will alleviate this language barrier issue so as to reduce unnecessary issues for hotels such as

  • eg. guests think it’s rude when they don’t get replies, but in fact is due to room attendants not understanding and inability to answer back in english
  • eg. ra misunderstood certain instructions and set up the guest room incorrectly
  • eg. managers requiring excessive repeating of instructions and sign language to convey simple instructions to RAs, hence low productivity and job efficiency
  • Result in unhappiness in three parties (guest, manager, ra) and affects team morale
  • eg. hotel reputation prone to be tainted, reduces returning customers, reduce profits eventually when rooms are not made to the brand’s standards (LQA mystery shopper too)
  1. Potential Solutions / Implementation for Problem Resolution:

Pertaining to the language barrier issue, the team has decided to an implement an English language training program to improve the speaking standards of housekeeping staff. The housekeepers will be rotated to attend this course of 15 lessons to prevent manpower shortage issues and successfully educate all housekeepers. The program will be compulsory for all housekeeping staff with problems speaking the language. In addition, the course of lessons will be made available online and the staff will be taught how to access then. Devices to access the material can also be provided to the housekeepers to use during or after work hours, where they may have spare time to view and self-educate. A learning management system may be set in place to verify if they have clicked and view the resources, making it easy for the HR department to determine whether or not the room attendant has completed the course. As the housekeeping department might usually find it hard to cope with manpower, this training program may be fully implemented online without the physical lessons taking place during work hours.

  1. Proposed Data Collection/Research Method:

In order to better understand the language and communication barrier between housekeeping staff and guest, a series of in-depth interviews will be conducted with several employees who have similar experiences in their workplaces. Primary data would be collected by having interviews with current or previous housekeeping staff to understand more about their day-to-day operational issues. In addition, academic papers will be cross-referenced from multiple sources to further strengthen the findings, and provide alternative viewpoints on the topic of language barrier in the hospitality industry, specifically housekeeping department.

  1. Benefits:

The benefits of having training would be the understanding of the English language for housekeeping staff who otherwise would not be able to communicate with guests in basic English. This would allow ease of communication between guests in the hotel and housekeeping staff, and prevent the occurrence of a communication breakdown due to the language barrier. This would reduce operational issues, and thus, reflect well on the hotel’s reputation.

References:

Channel NewsAsia. (2016). Companies take steps to attract, retain millennials. [online] Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/companies-take-steps-to/2478514.html [Accessed 03 Mar. 2017].


Faldetta, G., Fasone, V., & Provenzano, C. (2013). Turnover in the hospitality industry: can reciprocity solve the problem? Volumen de Negocios En La Industria de La Hospitalidad: La Reciprocidad Puede Resolver El Problema?, 11(4), 583–595.

Faruk, S., & Nedim, Y. (2015). Organizational Communication in Five Star Hotels and Experienced Problems. International Journal Of Science Culture And Sport, Vol 3, Iss 4, Pp 126-139 (2015), (4), 126.


Tan, Z. M. A., Baharun, N., Wazir, N. M., Ngelambong, A. A., Ali, N. M., Ghazali, N., & Tarmazi, S. A. A. (2016). Graduates’ Perception on the Factors Affecting Commitment to Pursue Career in the Hospitality Industry. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 224(IRSSM-6 The 6th International Research Symposium in Service Management), 416–420.

HM Staff (2009) .Topple the language barrier. Available at: http://www.hotelmanagement.net/housekeeping/topple-language-barrier [Accessed 02 Mar. 2017]

Letter of Service Recovery

Dear Mr Bennert,

Please allow me an opportunity to introduce myself; my name is Karine Han and I am the Director of Rooms Division at the Kariting Hotel, Singapore. My Guest service team has advised me of the service you received during your stay with us; first and foremost I want to sincerely apologize for this.

We always strive to provide the best service to our guests and especially to valuable guest such as yourself. We are sorry to hear that we did not exceed your basic expectation this time round.

Regarding to your breakfast arrangement, we have checked with Ag0da and clarified that your booking does not include any breakfast. For further clarification, please feel free to contact Ms Shu Fang from Ag0da reservations team at shufang@ag0da.com.

I certainly hope this would not deter you from giving us another opportunity to prove that your experience was an exception rather than rule and look forward to having the opportunity to regain your confidence level. Please contact my Front Office Manager, Mr Darren Seah at fom@karitinghotel.com should your traveling plan brings you back to Singapore and he will personally look after your booking.

Your sincerely,

Karine Han

Director of Rooms Division

Kariting Hotel, Singapore

(189 words)

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Reflection on Interpersonal Communication Problem

aloha-poke

Other than working part time at Royal Plaza on Scotts, I also worked with Aloha Poke during my four-months holiday last year. Aloha Poke is a casual Hawaiian dining outlet that specializes in Poke bowls which offers menu customization to your bowls. Each customer is required to fill up an order form and select their grains (white/brow rice), protein (tuna/salmon) and three complimentary toppings. The space is small and filled with mostly counter seats. It is packed during lunch hours and most customers choose to opt for takeaways.

4cb2a7666c1d7682d881442605_original

During one of the shifts, I was assigned to be the caller of the day. The role of the caller is to ensure the ingredients placed on the bowl tallies with what the customers have chosen on the order form. After which, I have to pack it into the bag with utensils and call out for the customer name to let them know that their food is ready for collection.

An interpersonal communication problem occurred during the peak period of the business, lunch time. As usual, after I checked the ingredients and tallied with the order form, I shouted out for a customer named ‘Patrick’. A man came forward to collect the food and left the store without checking. However, five minutes later, another man walked up to the counter and asked “It have been 10 minutes since I waited, is my order ready? My order form is under the name of Patrick.” This is when I realized that I have gave out the bowl to the wrong customer. My colleagues had to quickly assemble another bowl for this gentleman because of my mistake.

Due to the lack of communication with the first customer, I have caused the inconvenience for three parties; the customer who walked away with the wrong order, Mr. Patrick for the long wait and lastly, my colleagues for rushing out the order despite the huge amount of pending orders. Also, I might have caused my workplace to lose two potential customers due to this unpleasant experience.

What should I have done differently to prevent this incident from happening?

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Personal Branding

Personal branding is an ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or perception in the mind of others about an individual. There are several areas that are connected to personal branding, which includes nonverbal communication, elements of self and communication climates.

Working in a human resources department, it is necessary for me to include supportive communication climate into my personal branding. As a HR personnel who deals with the welfare of employees, one have to show empathetic and problem-oriented behaviours when an employee complains about his/her frustration at workplace. If we display defensive behaviours by being controlling and evaluative, the HR personnel will not be able to understand the problem and help the employee to solve the issue on hand.

Personal appearance also plays an important role in the personal branding. Good grooming contributes to a positive first impression as it demonstrates the level of respect between themselves and the person they are meeting. For example, in a job interview context, I will not show up in jeans and flip flops as it can be perceived by the interviewer that I am not interested. By showing up in proper work attire, I am relaying the message that I am serious about this job interview and the potential job opportunity that links to it.

In summary, personal branding is how an individual markets themselves or their career as a brand. By identifying why you’re different and knowing how to attract people to you in a positive way, you are building a recognizable personal brand can opens professional opportunities.

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Formal Email: Self Introduction

To: Brad Blackstone
From: Karine Han Xin Ying
Date: 17 January 2017
Subject: Self-introduction

Dear Mr. Brad,

My name is Karine Han, an undergraduate pursuing a Bachelor in Hospitality Business with Honours degree in Singapore Institute of Technology. I am writing in to share with you my educational background and professional experience. I am a customer-oriented person, one who pays attention to details, is highly adaptable and works responsibly based on my past professional experience.

When I was a catering sales coordinator in Goodwood Park Hotel, I was pushed to brush up on my customer service skills as communicating with clients had been part of my daily routine. With one coordinator assigned to assist five sales managers, my organisation skills have been honed to ensure my duties are discharged in the most effective and efficient manner.

My current part-time working experience with Royal Plaza on Scotts as HR Admin has made me well conversant in various functions of Human Resources, such as compensation & benefits, employee engagement, recruitment, learning & development.

I am an empathic listener, who is able to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, by showing interest and carefully listening to their needs. Nevertheless, I aim to improve on my writing and public speaking skills by continue to work on being a persuasive speaker over the duration of this module.

Lastly, thank you for taking the time off to read this email and I look forward to learning more from you.

Yours sincerely,

Karine Han

Revised on 9 February 2017

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