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“So there you have it. That’s exactly what I heard,” said Linda to Susan. She continued, “So can you see why I’m concerned? I mean, I had no idea Carmen felt that way. You would never know by looking at her that she’s considering leaving. I wasn’t sure I should tell you because I don’t know if it’s really our concern, but I thought you should know.”

Linda Stewart, the Human Resources Assistant, a young, bright, bubbly woman, started out in the sales department when she first joined the Pinnacle Hotel. Now as a part of her job in the Human Resources Department, Linda was responsible for taking the newly hired employees on a tour of the property during their orientation program. The Pinnacle conducted employee orientation every Monday. Because she was one of the first people new employees got to meet, and because she got to speak with them on a more informal basis when giving the property tour, Linda was rather friendly with most of the employees. With a total of 600 employees, sometimes rising to 650 employees during busy times, the Pinnacle kept Linda very busy.

Susan’s hair was sticking to the back of her neck. “Oh why on earth didn’t I put my hair up today,” she sighed as she pulled her hair back into a pony tail and held it for a moment before letting it fall back down to her shoulders. “Here’s what I think,” said Susan as she straightened herself in her chair.

Susan Pollack, Director of Corporate Training for the Royal Hotel Company (RHC), the management company for the Pinnacle, had recently been given the additional title of Director of Human Resources at the Pinnacle property. The Pinnacle was one of 40 properties managed by RHC. As Director of Corporate Training for RHC, Susan was responsible for overseeing training programs at all the properties. Because of the additional Pinnacle human resources duties bestowed upon her as of last year, Susan was constantly juggling her schedule to be at the Pinnacle as much as possible and still travel to the other properties.

Susan continued, “I really thought we had fine tuned our orientation and training programs. I’m not certain about exact turnover figures, I mean, I know they’re higher in housekeeping than I would like, but with the physical demands of that job it’s not unexpected. That’s why I’m concerned about Sarafina, that housekeeper we just hired, staying with us. But in the other departments, turnover doesn’t seem to be a big problem. We’re probably average with the other hotels in the city, maybe even a littler lower. So I guess I just assumed everything was okay.”

“That’s what I’ve been thinking,” said Linda. “I mean, I get to talk to all the new hires informally when we’re on the tour, so I guess I feel like I know them. And Carmen appeared by all accounts to be a confident, polished, professional young woman. She’s exactly the kind of person we love to have in reservations. But then I hear her talking to Sarafina about how she doesn’t have any friends here and how comfortable she felt at her old job, even though it seems like she really didn’t like it there, and I wonder what is really bothering her. Is it really all this stuff about not having anyone to go to lunch with? Is that really it? Or is it something else? And what am I supposed to do about it, or I mean, is human resources responsible for making sure every single employee is happy, or at least has someone to go to lunch with? Is that our job Susan?”

Susan leaned back in her chair, and turned to gaze out the window. After a long pause, she turned and looked at Linda thoughtfully. “You know Linda, that’s a really good question. And I’m afraid I don’t know the answer.”

Susan wondered if the heat was getting to her. This summer of 1995 had brought a terrible heat wave, and everyone appeared to be a little on edge, distracted and irritable. Wishing she had put her hair up today, Susan brushed a lock out of her eye. “So Linda, tell me once again how you know all this,” asked Susan. “If I remember correctly, you overhead Carmen talking to Sarafina, is that right?”


RHC was founded by Isaac Robinson. While in architecture school as a young man, he dreamed of one day owning his own hotel. His dream eventually led him to developing smaller hotels (approximately 250–350 rooms) that would some day become luxury first-class properties. But to be a first-class property, to be the best, the property had to be distinct. Robinson decided RHC would offer service second to none, and to do so, rules for ensuring quality service were necessary. What he did was to take corporate standards and fit them to the management style at each Royal property. To produce service second to none, the hotel would have to offer the best service possible on a consistent basis. Service that is good on Monday and lousy on Tuesday is not first-class service. Consistency is the key. Robinson believed other hotel companies lose out in not being consistent. This consistency at Royal properties has led to 45 percent repeat customers.

RHC was an international company. In 1992, RHC took over management of the Lee Hotel Company based in Tokyo. As a result of the takeover, RHC now had properties in Australia, the South Pacific, and the Far East, as well as North America. RHC has maintained the Lee name on the newly acquired properties because of the strong reputation for quality the Lee name has developed over the years. Recently, the Lee hotel in Tokyo was voted the number one hotel in the world.

Management of the Pinnacle property, built 20 years ago by another company, was taken over by RHC approximately two years ago. The Pinnacle, one of RHC’s oldest properties, was also one of its biggest properties, with 430 rooms. The Pinnacle prided itself on the personal service it offered to its guests: the business center; valet services, such as one-hour dry cleaning, mending, and laundry; and spa services via the Pinnacle Club fitness center. The Pinnacle was voted the number one hotel in the United States by Conde’ Nast Traveler, a favorite magazine of international business travelers.

The executive committee of the Pinnacle was headed up by Nickolaus Lamb, the general manager and regional vice president. Mr. Lamb also oversaw other RHC properties in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Toronto, Canada. Richard Conners was the resident manager and did all final employment interviews, whether the position being filled was for a housekeeper, a cocktail server, or the director of marketing. As such, every employee at the hotel had met him. Richard and his wife had an apartment at the hotel, and ate at the hotel’s restaurants often.


Linda proceeded to relate the incident to Susan. She overheard Carmen talking to Sarafina in the cafeteria. The Pinnacle’s employee cafeteria, called the Fox’s Den, was located on the 12th floor of the hotel and provided a spectacular, panoramic view of the city. The word around town among hotel employees was that the Pinnacle had the nicest employee cafeteria of all the hotels, and the hotel was quite proud of this honor. Everyone enjoyed the cafeteria, and even the general manager was known to occasionally stop in when at the property. Employees were given one free meal per shift, and could eat as much as they wanted. A well-stocked salad bar with the typical salad fixings as well as specialty vegetarian and low fat salads, a variety of hot and cold entrees, and many beverages to select from, all made the cafeteria a popular place to eat. Linda ate there just about every day, as did many of the employees. On this day, Thursday, July 20, sitting at a window table overlooking the city, Linda imagined how hot it would be by the time she got off work. The previous day, at 6 P.M., the temperature was still a sweltering 96 degrees. On days like this, she didn’t mind working. The commute into the city, however, was agony— already 85 degrees at 7 A.M. She felt sorry for the other employees who lacked air-conditioned homes. How could they sleep? Everyone was suffering from the heat. Across the city, over 400 people had died, and the city’s health department was predicting still more heat-related deaths. Linda was daydreaming about the heat when she found herself inadvertently picking up on a conversation nearby. She quickly recognized the voices of the two women talking—Carmen Morales, a new reservations agent, and Sarafina Williams, a new housekeeper.

“I hope I can make it. Oh I just hope I can make it!,” Sarafina was lamenting to Carmen. “My friends keep telling me ‘We know you can. Just hang in there Sarafina,’ but sometimes I’m just so tired.” All of her friends at the Pinnacle had made it. Sure, they too were tired in the beginning. But after a couple of months, they all adjusted to the work. Sarafina continued. “I just want to succeed. I know that working hard is the only way to make it. And I do want to make it here in the United States. But I’m worried I won’t be able to keep up with the job.”

As a new housekeeper at the Pinnacle, Sarafina Williams was trying her best to keep up with the demands of her first job in the United States. She had come to the United States to marry and live with her fiancé. In June, she was encouraged to apply to the Pinnacle by a few of her neighbors who were employed there. Sarafina found housekeeping in the United States very different than back in England. According to her, the job at the Pinnacle consisted of “so many details, so many things to clean in the room.” The housekeeping training packet she was given during orientation was 39 pages long, detailing even the smallest task to be completed. Each housekeeper was responsible for cleaning the equivalent of 13 rooms, with each room taking approximately 30 minutes to clean. As such, housekeepers had to work at a swift pace in order to clean their rooms in the 7.5-hour work day.

“Well, I’ve never been in housekeeping, but I know you can do it. You can’t give up now,” Carmen urged Sarafina. “You’ve put too much into this place already. And besides, everyone has doubts when they start a new job. Even I have doubts about the Pinnacle.”

“Really?” Sarafina said in disbelief. “You seem so confident, so at ease.”

“Oh, it’s not that I don’t know how to do my job in reservations, it’s just that I don’t know if that’s what I really want to do. I don’t know if I’m all that much happier than at my last job” explained Carmen.

Sarafina looked incredulous. “How could you not like it here? The Pinnacle is such a beautiful place. It’s such an opportunity to work here. I don’t understand how you could feel that way,” said Sarafina.

“It’s not that I don’t like it here. I mean, they treat me well and everything. It’s just that because the phone lines always need to be covered, we have to take turns going to lunch. So I have to go to lunch alone. And aside from a few people in reservations, you’re one of the only people I’ve gotten to know since I started working here,” Carmen admitted.

Sarafina looked puzzled, “Now I’m even more confused. Maybe you should start at the beginning.”


After working at Hotel Atlantis for two years, Carmen Morales was still in an hourly position. She had thought by this time in her career she would be a supervisor, but the Atlantis offered no advancement opportunities. Leaving her job appeared to be the only means for advancing her career and putting her hospitality-tourism bachelor’s degree to use. It was early March, and she decided to keep one eye on her job at Hotel Atlantis and one eye on the job market as well.

She responded to an ad placed by the Pinnacle Hotel for a front desk agent. Although it was an hourly position, Carmen explained in her cover letter she was looking for a supervisory position. It was worth a shot. If the Pinnacle was interested in her for a supervisory role, they would call; otherwise, she didn’t expect a response. When she received a letter with the Pinnacle address on it, she knew it was a rejection. She was, however, impressed the hotel had responded at all. The stationery was elegant and sophisticated. In the letter, the Assistant Human Resources Director explained no supervisory positions were currently available at the front desk. She suspected she would never hear from the Pinnacle again.

Three months later the Pinnacle called. A position in reservations had become available. It was not a supervisory position and Carmen wondered if she should go in for an interview. During the past three months, her job at Hotel Atlantis had gotten worse. “What the hell” she thought. Though currently responsible for accounts receivable, she had worked in reservations for a year prior to that position. She knew what a reservationist’s job would entail. At worst, taking a job at the Pinnacle would be making a lateral move. Besides, she thought, it couldn’t be any worse than her job at Hotel Atlantis, and the Pinnacle was a larger, upscale five-star hotel, probably with more advancement opportunities. In fact, her hourly pay as a Pinnacle reservations agent would be more than what she was making having full responsibility for accounts receivables at Hotel Atlantis.

Her first interview was with Zack Shoemaker, Assistant Director of Human Resources at the Pinnacle Hotel. As he explained a bit about the job and the benefits, Carmen wondered if she should tell him she didn’t want to be a reservationist her whole life. Would Zack find her too ambitious and worry she wouldn’t be able to stick it out in reservations for any length of time? Before she could finish this thought, visions of her current job flashed before her and she decided she had nothing to lose. Her career was going nowhere. She couldn’t risk the same thing happening at the Pinnacle. If no prospect for promotion existed, then in the most important way, the Pinnacle would be no different than where she worked now. She confided in Zack and told him of her desire to move up in the company.

By the time the interviewing process was over, Carmen had interviewed with four different people. Zack from human resources had been first. Next was Nancy Shaffer, the reservations manager who would be Carmen’s direct supervisor. Since she didn’t have an office, Nancy met with Carmen in the human resources training room. Mark Mink, the rooms division manager, was the third interviewer. A tall, silvery-gray haired man, he warmly welcomed Carmen into his office next to the front desk. Richard Conners, the resident manager, was her final interviewer. His office was located next to Mark Mink’s, and Mark had walked her next door and introduced her to Mr. Conners. Carmen couldn’t help noticing that Mr. Conners and Mr. Lamb were the only people addressed formally at the hotel.

It was during her interview with Mr. Conners that Carmen suspected she had the job. “Well I guess the only thing left for us to do is get you a schedule,” said Mr. Conners. Carmen was delighted. As she left Mr. Conner’s office, she noticed Nancy, the reservations manager whom she had already interviewed with, waiting for her. “Well thank you for coming in Carmen. We’ll be in touch in a few days.” Carmen thought it curious that Nancy didn’t know Mr. Conners had already, in essence, offered her the job. Perhaps it was just Nancy’s standard statement to all interviewees, Carmen thought. She rushed back for her shift at the Hotel Atlantis.

Carmen had been at work less than an hour when her mother called. Zack from the Pinnacle had phoned and wanted Carmen to call him back. She couldn’t help smiling as she said good-bye to her mother. Why else would Zack be calling? She knew she had the job.


Carmen had worked almost two weeks at the Pinnacle before she went through the orientation program. The Fourth of July holiday had eliminated the weekly orientation, and so Carmen was scheduled to go through the formal property-wide orientation on Monday, July 10.

She was the first one in the training room. Located around the corner from the human resources office in the basement of the hotel, the training room was rectangular in shape with one door, no windows, and only overhead lighting. It was 8:15 A.M. and orientation was to begin at 8:30 A.M. A small table had been set up near the door and was loaded with coffee, decaf, tea and Danish, muffins, and croissants. Small butter triangles, orange marmalade, and strawberry jam were available, as well as cream, lemons, sugar, brown sugar, and sugar substitutes for the coffee and tea. The coffee was being kept hot by the sterno underneath the beautiful silver coffee urn. The china, consisting of cups, saucers, and small plates, was white with a royal blue and gold rim. The tablecloth on the table was swaggered, like the bottom of a southern woman’s ballroom dress. As Sheryl, another new employee, would later explain, some employees in the hotel were hired just to do that—swagger. Sheryl had worked but one day at the Pinnacle Hotel, but she was already quite proud of her new position as a swaggerer.

At the far end of the training room, a marker board lined the length of the wall. An easel with pad was set up in the far left corner of the room, displaying directions for completing the employee identification card forms. Pictures of the hotel’s Planning Committee members hung in a frame facing the doorway. The Planning Committee consisted of the GM/Regional VP, the Hotel Resident Manager, Rooms Division Manager, F&B Director, Human Resources Director, Chief of Engineering, Director of Marketing, Director of Security, and the Controller. On the wall to the right of the door hung pictures of the other properties owned by RHC. The conference table filling the middle of the room had nine chairs around it with an orientation packet and employees’ name tags placed at every chair. Outside on the bulletin board next to the door to the training room were listed the names of the new employees going through the orientation program that day. All employees had to pass that bulletin board after dropping off their IDs with security before heading to the locker rooms. The lockers, training room, uniform office, and human resources office were all on one of the basement floors. The security office and the hotel kennel were on the same floor as well.

Other new Pinnacle employees gradually joined Carmen: Jason, a young graduate from a hotel management program, was an assistant manager in banquets; Becky had been hired to work in the Open Air Café doing cocktailing; Carlos had already worked about a week as a greeter; Daniel had started as a houseman. Daniel had never worked in a hotel before. Sarafina, who had been working in housekeeping for five days already, came in and sat down next to Carmen. They had met two days earlier in the Fox’s Den and had struck an immediate friendship. Sheryl arrived just as Jason was introducing himself to the rest of the group as instructed by Zack Shoemaker. Zack was to conduct the first part of the orientation, and later in the afternoon, new employees would go to their respective departments for further training. Nancy Shaffer, Carmen’s supervisor, had already arranged her schedule to train Carmen in the afternoon. And Sarafina’s supervisor, Edgar, has asked Sarafina to come back to the training room in the afternoon to begin her department training.

Zack started the program by explaining he had been with RHC, the management company for the Pinnacle, for five years and described how the hotel was broken up into the rooms and the food and beverage departments. After reviewing the history of the hotel and the importance of consistent quality service, Zack explained RHC’s concern with safety. “If ever there was to be a fire here, we have to make sure you know how to protect yourself. You can’t help a guest if you’re not safe and in control yourself.” Zack put in the fire safety video and asked Carlos if he would come and get him in the human resources office when the video was over.

The next video, described by Zack as being very dated, but having a message as relevant today as it was years ago when the video was made, was entitled Royal-ty Everyday. It depicted the visual story (no words are spoken, just background music) of a housekeeper and other employees during their work day at a Royal Hotel property. A housekeeper drops off her daughter at a dance class and then heads to the Royal. She spends the rest of her day performing various duties, interacting with other employees and guests, smiling, and laughing. The video captures a Royal doorman helping a family (husband, wife, and young daughter) hail a cab. In the commotion of getting into the cab, the little girl inadvertently drops her teddy bear. The cab pulls way with the bear lying in the gutter. The Royal doorman picks it up, quickly flags down a cab, and indicates “Follow that cab!” When his cab finally catches up with the family’s cab at the next traffic light, the doorman jumps out and presents the bear to the grateful parents and delighted little girl. Wrapping up the end of the video are employees of various nationalities saying in their native language, “So nice to be special.”

At this point in the orientation program, Linda Stewart took the new employee group on a tour of the hotel. She led them out of the training room and down the hall to one of the two service elevators. Linda explained that one of the elevators was used by room service in the morning for ensuring prompt delivery of breakfasts and thus was unavailable for use by other employees. At other times, some groups using meeting space needed to use the other service elevator to get materials to their meeting rooms. Patience was needed with the elevators, said Linda, especially for the housekeeping staff trying to get up to the guest rooms. After approximately four minutes, an elevator appeared and the group headed to the kitchen areas. Employees were busy working to the low hum of the ventilation system. The kitchen was spacious, clean, and air-conditioned. The Pinnacle’s award-winning restaurant, The Dining Room, was next on the tour. The room was paneled with rich wood and spacious seating. A three-foot tall chocolate sculpture, created by one of the chefs, was situated near the door of the restaurant. Linda told of rumors that one of the bottles on the wine list was selling for $2,500. She went on to boast that the chef of the restaurant, a young woman, a native of the area, had recently won numerous culinary awards. Other highlights of the tour included viewing some of the meeting rooms, The Bar, The Greenhouse, and the steward area. A guest room was not available for viewing (occupancy that day was 99 percent) and eight other rooms were having new carpeting installed. Attempts to meet with Mr. Lamb, the general manager, or Mr. Conners, the resident manager, were unsuccessful. Linda was embarrassed by her inability to show a guest room or to arrange a meeting with a manager, and apologized profusely.


Housekeepers and housemen at the Pinnacle had traditionally been trained via the “buddy system.” More senior housekeepers would be given an increased hourly wage for training a new housekeeper. However, over time, different training housekeepers had their own way of training and doing things. The new housekeepers were picking up the bad habits or shortcuts being taken by the particular trainer and consistency, the principle most important to the founder of RHC, had gone by the wayside. So last year, the position of housekeeping training manager was created in order to ensure consistency in housekeeping training. Edgar Luna held this position.

Edgar shared a space with the executive housekeeper and the assistant executive housekeeper. Although three desks were situated in the office, none had the appearance of really being used—no personal name plates or pictures of loved ones. There was just a general mess to the place, although the floor was clean. Every available nook and cranny had guest room amenities and cleaning supplies in it—candle holders, potpourri, vases, body lotion, coffee filters, light bulbs, decorations, etc. One of the desks was centered at a window with sliding glass panels to another housekeeping room with desks for other supervisors and coordinators.

Edgar had started out with the Pinnacle as a houseman. After 17 years, he was now the housekeeping training manager. Not bad for a Hispanic man in the United States, he thought. But that was also his gift to the housekeeping department. Most of the housekeeping staff spoke Spanish and Edgar’s ability to communicate was a plus. Since he had taken over, turnover has been reduced dramatically. However, even with this reduction, the housekeeping department still had trouble keeping people. He believed that arranging for child care took its toll, as did the physically demanding nature of the job. Many of the new housekeepers were not fully aware of how tiring their job would be.

Edgar was proud of the work he had done in the housekeeping department, but he knew he still wanted to do more. He had worked with human resources to develop a training program in Spanish, but it had been back-burnered while the new Human Resources Director, Susan Pollack, got into place.

Before the morning company-wide orientation, Edgar had instructed Sarafina and the new houseman, Daniel, to meet him back in the training room in the afternoon for departmental training. In addition, he asked Sean, who had left after seven years employment to pursue an opportunity with a new hotel and was subsequently rehired by the Pinnacle as an assistant executive housekeeper, to attend as well.

Edgar handed out training packets (see Figure 1) to all of them and asked Sean to read the packet to the rest of the group. Occasionally, Edgar would interject with additional comments and ask for questions. Sarafina found it a little boring having someone read to her about how to clean a bathroom and vacuum a rug. She learned better by doing, and she had already gone over some of this during the five days she had worked prior to this training. The session finally ended at 4:30 P.M. She went home and Daniel went back to his department to work until 7:00 P.M.

FIGURE 1 Housekeeping Training.


Nancy Shaffer suggested to Carmen that they head to the Fox’s Den for the training session. Nancy’s desk was in the room with the other reservationists, so they would have had to whisper. The employee cafeteria was crowded, but they managed to find an empty table.

Nancy wore a “uniform” similar to the front desk agents: a royal blue tailored suit, with a slim fitting skirt an inch above the knee and a beautiful, double-breasted jacket. A white blouse and blue pumps completed her outfit. Carmen thought Nancy and the front desk agents looked great—professional, stylish, and classy. Her reservations uniform, unlike Nancy’s, consisted of a royal blue skirt, flared at the bottom and ending midway down her calf. The shirt was patterned, long sleeved, and tied into a loose bow at the neck. Carmen felt ugly and dowdy in it, and she wished she could wear a uniform like Nancy’s.

Nancy opened up a folder containing training materials. “Let’s open up with the Pinnacle’s First Day Orientation Checklist (see Figure 2). I have a copy here for you. As we go through it, just initial it as we go down the list in order, and if you have any questions, just let me know,” she said.

Nancy proceeded to read each item on the checklist, elaborating where needed. Everything from hours of operation, policies for name tags, meals, breaks, parking, sick leave, and schedule requests, to employee problems, transfers, warnings, payroll sign in/out procedures, evaluations, etc., were covered. In addition, the company’s philosophy, benefits, orientation, guest comment cards, outlets and services, hotel history, lost and found procedures, and OSHA hazardous chemicals procedures were explained. After each item, Nancy would ask, “Are there any questions?”

Carmen was trying so hard to remember everything, she couldn’t even think about asking questions.

Nancy continued, “No questions? Great! Okay, then you want to initial over where it asks for the trainee’s initials.” This procedure continued until all 27 items on the checklist were explained and initialed by Carmen. After two hours, Nancy showed no signs of weariness, but Carmen’s head was swimming with information. She was tired and looking forward to going home.


Carmen had worked for the Pinnacle for three weeks now and the timing of her commute to work was still unpredictable. On this day, the traffic was horrible and it was nearly 86 degrees at 7:45 A.M. Carmen thought about the Hotel Atlantis and the friends she had left behind. Hotel Atlantis had been close to her house in the suburbs—it never took more than 20 minutes to get there. As a Pinnacle employee, however, she had to drive into the city and pay $5.50/day for parking. Everything about her job seemed new. She had to make new friends, try not to get lost making her way to the cafeteria, and determine what management expected of her. As she sat in traffic with her car air-conditioning on high, Carmen spotted a U-turn ahead. She knew the Hotel Atlantis would take her back. All the friends she had made at the hotel still worked there. And although she had had disagreements with some of the other employees and supervisors, she at least knew what the arguments would be about. Her days were predictable. The U-turn was getting closer. All she had to do was get in the left lane and she could easily turn around and head back to the Hotel Atlantis.

FIGURE 2 Reservations Training.

Sarafina gasped. “I’m so surprised! I had no idea you felt this way. You seem so happy. I can’t believe you would really consider leaving here!”

Carmen was shaking her head. “It’s not that I’m so unhappy, it’s just that I’m not that much happier than I was at the Atlantis,” Carmen went on. “This is the first time I’ve changed jobs. The Atlantis was my first job out of school. I was comfortable there. Here, everything is so new, so different. You have to be so friendly and look so enthusiastic and energetic. Learning a new job is tiring, and having to make new friends and get to the point where you feel comfortable with them is even more tiring. At least at the Hotel Atlantis, I knew everyone. I didn’t have to worry about having someone to go to lunch with. In reservations here, we never get to go to lunch together because we have to cover the phones. Well, I don’t know anybody else, so I end up eating alone most of th

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