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Maintaining New Staff

March 26, 2007 By: Ruthanne Terrero Travel Agent

Did you ever hire an assistant agent you thought would work out really well, but they just never meshed with the office environment? Perhaps they even quit after a few weeks, and no one in the office could quite pinpoint the problem. Ruthanne Terrero, CTC

If you've fallen into this situation, it's possible that a
communication breakdown happened long before you knew it. Ask yourself this
question: Did it occur because you never really quite had the time to train
your new hire properly?

It's so important in today's challenging hiring market that
you do everything you can to provide a learning environment for your newest
employees. So many of us are so busy that it's quite simple to overlook the
most obvious things. It's easy to hire a new person and then put them right
into a sink-or-swim situation, all because we don't have the time to mentor
them properly.

If you suspect this may be an issue in your office, I
suggest setting aside 10 minutes each morning to spend time with your newest
employees. Make it a set meeting that occurs every day (or if you have more
than one new individual, give each of them an assigned day or two of the week
to meet with you). In the informal meeting, ask your employees what they are
working on—it's likely you'll be able to give them a good dose of insight that
will truly help them with a trip they are planning for a client. Then ask them
what's on their minds. Don't worry, it may be something simple enough. If
they're entry level, they could be stressing about the fact that they want to
toss the 2005 travel brochures from the back-room cabinet but have been afraid
to ask because it seems too mundane. Or, they may have a brilliant idea they've
been waiting to run by you, but are afraid to approach you because you have so
much on your plate.

Also take the time to give them projects that will help them
grow. If they've booked vacations for clients already, challenge them to make
the next trip they plan more sophisticated by giving them research to do on
suppliers they haven't worked with yet.

Malaka Hilton, the owner of Admiral Travel Gallery in Sarasota, FL,
has a system wherein each new hire in her office automatically becomes her
assistant (unless they're already a full-fledged agent). Under her watch, the
assistant eventually grows to agent status. Just last year, one of her former
protégés opened a branch office of Admiral Travel in the next town. What's more
valuable to your time than training staff to become future partners who will
enhance your business?

The goal is to make them feel valued and keep them learning.
It's difficult enough to find good agents these days, therefore it's vital that
you nurture those that you have.

Other agencies I've spoken with have a buddy system. When
new hires start work, they are partnered with a seasoned agent so they can
shadow his or her every move. This type of on-the-job experience is priceless.

Alternately, if you are on staff and feel you don't get to
speak to your manager enough, "manage up." Assert yourself by
requesting just a few moments to go over issues that are important to taking
the quality of your work to a higher level. If your office doesn't have a buddy
system, request that you be matched with a colleague.

The travel industry is one that can be incredibly
entrepreneurial, and those with ambition and great initiative are typically
those who find success at a much earlier age than their peers.

What do you think of this $type?

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