There’s an education unfolding all around you
Regardless of whether you have been in gaming for ten years or ten days, your goals for where you want to end up are attainable. Depending on what they are, here are five skills that can help you get there. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get them. This does not mean that you may not have to crack a book and do some studying on your own, but they are available to everyone.
The skills you will need in the next five years will be varied, and surprisingly not all of them are technology-related. Then again, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to have some tech skills. You can’t swing a stick today without hitting someone who is preaching the need for data analytics, and they are right. Understanding the need for information and the metrics surrounding them are critical.
Here are some of the skills required to become a successful business operator.
1. Decision making and critical thinking
Having information is one thing, knowing what to do with it is another. The ability to interpret the meaning of statistics, facts, and data, and putting them into utility is another. If you are looking to become a supervisor, director or even a GM, the first skill you need to master is the ability to Think. Your ability to make things happen depends on how accurately you view your world and the process of making decisions and using your judgment. If you are a Table Games Director, how do you maximize your schedule and what games do you want to put on the floor? When you are looking to promote someone, what are the qualities you want to improve your department and that individual?
Critical thinking allows you to put that model into a cause and effect scenario. It gives you a road map of what the possible outcomes will be. If the model you are projecting is not producing a positive result, you need to go back and recalculate. Look for the result that you are trying to achieve and work backwards to see where you need to start. The information and the answers are there, but you have to look for them; you cannot rely on flipping a coin and hoping it all works out.
The term leadership gets thrown around a lot these days. As a General Manager or director of a casino, a lot of how your team members act will be a reflection of you. If you are late for meetings, so will they; if you treat team members or guests poorly, so will they. It starts with integrity. Are you truthful? When there are problems, are you there to help or are you absent? How you treat housekeeping is no different than how you treat your directors. They want someone who they can count on and look up to. When you look at the word “leadership,” the word “lead” is where it starts. Your group is looking for you to provide direction. They want to know that their interest is just as important as yours. Let them know that you are there for them first.
Too often we get focused on only one element of an operation. Great leaders are successful because of their ability to see the entire playing field. CEOs, General Managers and directors know where all the pieces are and how to put them in the places that are the most productive. Having the ability to arrange and rearrange them as time and circumstance dictates. To see where not only the company has come from, but where it is and where it needs to go. Anticipation of what market conditions will do and the needs of your guests and your team members. What are your competitors doing? What is changing in the industry? What is changing technologically? Be prepared. One of my favorite lines is, what type of person are you? Are you the one who makes things happen, the one who watches things happen, or the one who wonders what happened?
When you see the potential in our industry, there are no limits to what you can achieve. Numerous examples of someone starting in an entry-level position to eventually running a department or the entire property happen every day. A prep cook becoming an Executive Chef or F&B Director, a receptionist becoming an HR Director, or a dealer becoming the General Manager. All of these things have happened and continue to happen.
But they were not just handed these positions. They studied on their own, took extra classes and most importantly, they tuned out all the naysayers who said it could not be done. There are plenty of reasons why something can’t be done and plenty of people who will let you know that your dreams are stupid. What others don’t see in these individuals is the drive and determination that they have. Many times, we don’t know what we are capable of. Just like an athletic coach pushes you, having a business mentor do the same allows you to accomplish much more than you thought possible. It may seem that they are picking on you, but they realize that you can do more. The first time you bump into an obstacle, are you going to quit? Or will you find a way to achieve your goals? It’s up to you.
Maybe the most important part is finally putting the plan into play. Companies are very good about creating slogans and putting up posters with inspirational quotes. At some point in time, you need to make it happen. As a General Manager, if you know having a hotel will increase your business and help against competition, what are you going to do about it? As a Marketing Director, if you need to retain more high-end players or increase visits, what are you going to do about it? If you are waiting for the perfect time, that time will never come because nothing will ever be perfect. This does not mean that you don’t plan. You need to do research, evaluate your cause and effect and give yourself the best chance to be successful. But at some point you have to pull the trigger and put your plan into play.
All of these items can be accomplished by you taking the time to focus on them. It may take some time, and you will have to put in some work and do some studying. But it can be on your time and terms. Having a mentor would certainly be helpful to get you through some of the rough spots. Keep your eyes open and pay attention to what is happening around you on a daily basis. There is an education unfolding before you every day, and it will not cost you $100,000 dollars to get.