Han Fei Tzu and The Art of Hotel Management

Published: 2021-07-02 01:59:46
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Around 280 B. C. the royal family of Han gave birth to one of the greatest philosophers of China, Han Fei Tzu. He studied under Sun Tzu, and in addition, from other philosophers such as the Taoist Legalist philosopher, Shen Tao, and a Legalist philosopher, Shen Pu-hai. Though Han Fei Tzu did not invent Legalism, he furnished the ideas to its perfection. His theories went against those of Confucius’s and other philosophers, focusing more on the practical level. Though ill fated to die in the hand of his own student, Li Ssu, Han Fei Tzu’s theories prove successful in uniting China and establishing the first emperor of China.
Han Fei Tzu is a Legalist. His ideas of government establishment and function strove for those of extremes, of utmost reward and punishment. Han Fei Tzu focused on the art of distrust. His ideas parallel those of the modern world business, where the society is filled with darkness. Moreover, his establishment of the hierarchy of government equals those of modern corporations. The Chief Executive Officer oversees each and every order carried out, with specialists occupying different offices. Speaking of corporations, there is one industry that would draw Han Fei Tzu’s close attention.
Not only does Han Fei Tzu’s theories apply in this particular business; furthermore, it actually functions in identical ways. In the hotel industry, the vital component not only lies in skills, capitals, or services. Hotel management, for the General Manager, focuses on the tactics of administration. The society within the hotel stands upon tied complications between individuals. Each and every member and staff deal not only with their duties. They face the challenge of cooperation and service. Thus, almost everyone in the hotel industry faces the challenge of socialization, on the materialistic level.




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People do not approach without purpose. ‘Deals’ and ‘transactions’ lie beneath every interaction. These deals and transactions may be job promotion, favors, etc. When there is no use for any additional help, people depart in their own ways. As one general manager describes, “I’d rather have a true enemy then all these false friends…” Putting Han Fei Tzu and the art of hotel management together provides the perfect combo. Han Fei Tzu’s “The Way of the Ruler” should work in harmony with the way of a General Manager.
On the level of executive administration, Han Fei Tzu said, “The ruler [GM] must not reveal his desires; for if he reveals his desires his ministers will put on the mask that pleases him. He must not reveal his will; for if he does so his ministers will show a different face. ” (P16) A GM, like the ruler, must not reveal his true self to his employees. By revealing the GM’s true self, he is also showing his weakness. Thus, his employees will be acknowledged of where to get at the GM. By this, the GM loses his control and power over his staff members, disabling the superiority over them.
The skill to perfect the coverage of identity is trust. “It is hazardous,” Han Fei Tzu warns, “for the ruler of men to trust others, for he who trust others will be controlled by others. ” (P84) When trusting others, one reveals his secrets to them. In turn, one day these secrets may backfire and injure the position of the GM. Thus, making sure to ignore trusting others is a fundamental for GMs to stay in control. In connection to trust is the way of assignment. How can the GM appoint positions if he ceases to trust anyone?
This is done through the means of observation. Han Fei Tzu recommended, “if one were only to observe a man’s features and dress and listen to his speech, then even Confucius could not be certain what kind of person he is. But if one tries him out in government office and examines his achievements, then even a man of mediocre judgement can tell whether he is stupid or wise. ” (P124) The result of the work is observed to judge a person. Intuitions and visuals are discarded. Rather, results are used to judge an individual and used to place him or her in the right office.
Due to the fact that the world of hotel management lies in deep connection with socialization, the line between the manager and managed must be drawn. Henceforth, if the managed lacks the fear against the manager, the order of the hotel will be disrupted. Employees will act lazily and try to reduce their workload. Thus, to avoid laziness and enhance work efficiency, extreme measures of punishment must be carried out. “The enlightened ruler,” Han Fei Tzu describes, “controls his ministers by means of two handles alone.
The two handles are punishment and favor. (P30) With extreme punishment, the GM sets an example of how misconduct will be treated, while encouraging hard work by means of reward. The usage of punishment and reward also allows greater control by the GM. Han Fei Tzu explains, “…the officials will turn their backs on law, seeking only to establish weighty personal connections and making light of public duty. ” (P23) Through punishment and award, managers will be pulled away from attendance of establishing connections with higher executives, while focusing more on their duty.
As mentioned above, the skill of socializing is so abused that hotel staffs solely rely upon connections to escape responsibility. Thus, they will learn that, though with connections, punishments will be carried out when duties are not fulfilled. Similarly, rewards will be given even there exists no connections, as long as the job is done right. Speaking of duties, the difference between executive officers and specialized staff must also be specified. “Appoint one man to each office. Let no one,” Han Fei Tzu suggests, “do as he pleases, and never permit men to change office or to hold two offices at the same time. (P39)
A waiter is a waiter, and his duty is to serve the customer. Topping the waiters is the chief-waiter, who oversees the functioning of the restaurant. F/B (Food & Beverage) division manager sees to it that all the restaurants are providing the best service possible, keeping their customers content and jubilant. This is the distribution of responsibilities. To succeed in management, the GM must remember the words of Han Fei Tzu, where “the ministers name their proposals, the ruler holds fast to the name, and the ministers come forward with results.
When names and results match, then superior and inferior will achieve harmony. ” (P37) One’s own duty must be recognized, and regardless of the importance of the task, only by the fulfillment of every detail can a hotel function in its proper way. Moreover, “things have their proper place, talents their proper use. When all are in their proper place, then superior and inferior may be free from action. (P35)” Each member of the hotel secures their own position, making sure they have good ethics in their duties. One must not cross the lines of their responsibility, for it brings disorder and confusion to the hotel as a whole.
Everyone minds their own task, and when appointed a certain position, they focus their energy to fulfill the requirements. Relating the bondage of duties and socialization of hotel members enter the competition for position. Every staff working in a hotel looks up to a higher level. They want to upgrade their status to increase their salary, to gain a better reputation, or other unspecific reasons. As a result, while everyone is socializing, treating each other in friendly matters, each one is in fact selfish. In reality, they fight over positions beneath the surface.
Thus, a GM must “guard against danger, fear peril, make haste to designate your heir, and misfortune will have no means to arise. ” As long as the GM announces the entitlement of certain positions, individuals will be aware of the occupied office, thus ceasing to plot for competitions. Even as the head of a hotel, the GM has to work in order to gain the ‘favor’ of his colleagues. Unlike the times of Han Fei Tzu, where the emperor ruled a province, GMs ruled only a hotel. Thus, punishments such as beheading and property confiscation could not be utilized.
An alternative would be persuasion, to successfully convince his employees to follow his orders. This would be the usage of rewards, or wages. Han Fei Tzu suggests, “praise other men whose deeds are like those of the person you are talking to; commend other actions which are based upon the same policies as his. ” Though this strategy is for ministers, the employers nowadays should also consider this tactic. Through persuasion, the GM may be able to command his people with greater efficiency. The hotel is like a province, and similar to ancient China, there exist more than one province.
Competing hotels stand everywhere, and they are the ones that the GM battles. Thus, the GM must know how to maximize the usage of public resource and private capital to triumph in sales over other hotel competitors. Han Fei Tzu has already seen the significance in resource allocation, as he describes, “When the sage rules, he takes into consideration the quantity of things and deliberates on scarcity and plenty. ” (P99) Though by this Han Fei Tzu means in terms of punishment and reward, this rule would be applied towards the usage of capital and investment, for the time is situated for such measures.
The change of technology and uprising of new competing hotels also forces the GM to decide on major upgrades for the hotel. Which component of the hotel should the GM upgrade? Should technology be weighed heavier, or should the GM renovate the outlook? Han Fei Tzu recommends, “Those who have no understanding of government always tell you, “Never change old ways, never depart from established custom! ” But the sage cares nothing about change or no change; his only concerns is to rule properly. ” (P93)
By this, the GM’s responsibility is to make the best decisions for the hotel, and because circumstances change according to the age, and ways of dealing with them change with the circumstances,” (P99) the GM’s decisions would be in reaction to the functions of competing hotels. If Hyatt renovated their lobby, Sheratons would check to see if this did create a higher room sales rate. If so, the Sheratons should also upgrade their lobby facility to compete against Hyatt. One particularly important writing of Han Fei Tzu is ‘The Eight Villainies’. This not only applies as a warning against the ruler and advice for the minister, it can also be manipulated to be used by the GM.
Han Fei Tzu would certainly enjoy seeing his tactics used to its full extent. Here is a briefing for how this ‘Eight Villainies’ can be deployed and modernized for the best use by the GM: Making use of his bedfellows => Immediately upon distribution of reward, the GM may hope to ask for greater job performances, prior to the former one. Making use of his attendants => The GM, as the head of the hotel, can force lower employees such as waiters to agree with the GM, thus convincing the waiter-head to be held responsible for certain events. This applies to other offices as well.
Making use of his elder and kin => By visiting the families of his employee, the GM may be more persuasive and successful at convincing his employee at undertaking certain task, for the family, in consideration of promotions, will try to convince particular individuals to gain favor of the GM. Encouraging baleful pursuits => The GM may appoint certain managers or staffs a better office, with fully equipped furniture and luxuries, thus impose heavier duty and greater responsibility unto the manager. Making use of the people => Considering one question, would the employees be in greater pursuit to gain favor from their GM or their manager?
Given the fact that the GM is the head of the hotel, employees are certain to strive in contenting their wage-payer. Thus, the GM can impose a greater influence upon his employees to order managers indirectly to do so as the GM pleases. (This is very similar to ‘Making use of his attendants) Making use of fluent speakers => In one way, the GM may assign speakers from popular hotel management schools such as Cornell to speak in agreement with the GM. This increases credibility and enhances the strength of persuasion.
Making use of authority and might => The GM is the head of the hotel, thus he possesses the greatest authority and might in the hotel. Using this power, the GM should exploit it to its full extent, by terminating unwanted managers or lazy employees. Making use of the surrounding => The fact that there are competing hotels can too, be used to the GM’s advantage. His position enables special ‘connections’ with other executives, thus when the GM’s own managers are not following orders, the GM can make certain that he would not be able to gain a similar job at a different hotel. Only the GM’s hotel is willing to accept this particular individual.
Though these ‘Eight Villainies’ may too, be used against the ruler -Han Fei Tzu wrote it as a warning to rulers- GM should also consider these tactics to employ them himself. A final warning Han Fei Tzu suggests is the trade of authority and power. In this case, Han Fei Tzu warns, “no ministers should be allowed to borrow the power and authority of the ruler. ” (P89) The GM is indeed the most powerful man in the hotel. If he was to lend his authority to managers, this power may be exploited in terms of corruption. Money might be drained, employees might be lost, and worse, the GM himself may be used as a scapegoat.
Overall, the vital mentality that should be considered is not only the GM’s. The hotel functions as a whole, thus each and every member work together to benefit the hotel. In hotel management, the ways of the GM stands not alone, but with the support of his managers and employees. Thus, the mentality of these managers and employees should also be considered.
Han Fei Tzu summarizes the essence of this whole construct. “The interests of the state and the individual are,” Han Fei Tzu analyzes, “mutually at odds, and both cannot prevail at the same time. Managers and employees must not act selfishly to gain their own benefits, but rather, everyone must work with good ethics to strengthen the hotel as a whole. The question, “what would Han Fei Tzu say about hotel management,” is asked. In response, Han Fei Tzu would comment, “Hence it is said that the art of hotel management affiliates itself to the rules of a king, they work in the same mechanism. Han Fei Tzu would promote a copy of his philosophies to the GM of the hotel. The ways of the ancient government and modern hotel construct are identical.
The only difference lies in the lack of military. Yet, without military and arms, the essence of Han Fei Tzu’s philosophies remains. Without the conduct of arms, persuasion is the new modern weapon. To manipulate the thinking of others is the new rule. Han Fei Tzu’s theories are in reality a cookbook for dealing with people. This works perfectly for hotel management because GMs deal more with socialization than actual hotel functioning. Indeed, there involve skill and talent to administer the hotel, yet in order for jobs to be done, the GM must learn how to control his managers and employees.
Han Fei Tzu would have been the perfect GM if he lived. He would not comment on everything, but only minor details, for his theories apply in great affiliation with hotel management. Even on a greater level, Han Fei Tzu’s theories are in bondage to corporate functions. The weapon in the modern days though, is wealth. Han Fei Tzu’s thinking not only applies to hotel management, but it also works for corporate executives. Han Fei Tzu would have said the same things to each officer working in a firm, for his teachings hold true for everyone.
Han Fei Tzu’s work is actually a perfect guideline for modern day society, where people work to their own benefits and lack the altruistic characteristic that existed in ancient times. Han Fei Tzu focuses specifically on the level of trust and socialization. This skill is vital in the survival of society, because in the world of infinite talents, it is only luck and connection that surfaces a person’s identity and ability. Han Fei Tzu, though dislike the fact that this is true, admits to the flaw of the system. Human nature is ultimately bad and lazy. Each individual strives for their benefits, discarding benevolent practice.
Thus, Han Fei Tzu discredits and criticizes the theories of benevolence, particularly promoted by Confucius and Mencius. In the modern world, everyone tries to survive under the tide of wealth and capitalism. They work in companies and firms to accomplish this goal. Yet, it is the interaction of individuals that make up societies, communities, and corporations. Han Fei Tzu, if living in today’s world, would indeed thrift in his philosophies, and make millions if he wrote the book, Han Fei Tzu and the Art of Humanistic Behavior. His ideas target not only rulers and ministers, they too, function well in today’s world.

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