As he worked his way through the ranks in a local restaurant, going from washing dishes to serving and catering fairly quickly, Nilesh Pandey realized he’d found his passion. “When I was about to graduate from high school, I decided this is what I wanted to do professionally,” he says. “I chose to study hospitality management at Kendall College.” After completing an internship with Hyatt and then his bachelor’s degree in Spain, he returned to the city he loves, where he is now the general manager of Hyatt Place Lombard.
“The role is a lot of fun,” he says. “As a GM, you’re in charge of everything. Your day is divided among every department, from housekeeping and the front desk to the kitchen and sales.” Part of what drives him is curiosity. There is always something new to learn about the operations of his hotel, even with the solid background in hospitality he built at Kendall.
Here, Pandey shares how to build a strong team:
Communicate frequently. “The only way to run an operation really well is to make sure your team members understand your goals and know they should ask when they need something,” he says.
Never stop listening. “Sometimes people may not come to you directly to share a concern,” he says. Check in with employees individually and remember to ask open-ended questions and absorb everything they share, whether it’s a detail about their family or a concern within their department. “If you can listen well, you can ask an associate anything,” he explains. “Conversations like these also encourage employees to speak up, which means they will eventually bring results to you.”
Build trust. “You want your employees to trust the team they are working for. If they trust one another, the work environment becomes better and engagement goes up. Care for your associates like you care for your guests,” Pandey continues. “I tell my team we spend more time together than with our families. I encourage my staff to find friends and opportunities alike.”