Essay: Centara Grand Maldives

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  • Centara Grand Maldives
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1. Introduction
Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa Maldives (Here forth called as CIRM) is located in South Ari Atoll, Maldives and it’s a family member of Centara Hotels and Resorts. It is a five-star resort with outstanding service and facilities which give a worth for the price paid by its visitors who are the consumers of the resort. It is managed by a leading Thai hospitality organization.
It consists large properties around ten countries and continues to grow. CIRM was established in 2009, throughout these years they have achieved several outstanding awards. It was reported total revenue of US$ 26 Million in year 2014 (Centara annual report 2014) Employee base in CIRM are highly diverse with women, men graduates in all ages ,also culturally diverse as they are from different nationalities, from more than 13 countries.CIRM ‘s employee base consists 285 in total and women empowerment represent 25% of it. They maintain their employee turnover approximately 30% annually and average tenure of an employee is 2-4 years .All the employees are under contractual agreements and senior manager positions are held by well experienced foreigners from Thailand, Australia, Sri Lanka and Maldives ages between 30-40 s. most of the young employee’s age between 18-25.
The resort primarily focuses on its business model sustainability. Therefore it tries to deliver a luxury island resort experience while ensuring the sustainability. In order to do so, CIRM carry out local community support and education, and workforce education on universal environmental practices. The resort is endeavoring to conduct its business and operations with high degree of environmental, social and ethical responsibility.
1.1 Organization operational structure
Figure 1: Basic organizational chart of Centara Grand Maldives
Source: HR department of CIRM
1.2 Diversity
Diversity refers to the collection of different demographic factors such as race, gender, age, religion, culture, social status, economic status and sexual orientation. A recent study by Deloitte and the Billie Jean king Leadership Initiative shows that it is the trend to focus on differences in cognitive viewpoints in defining the diversity rather than focusing on differences in demographic factors. (Mullins, 2010)
Cultural diversity refers to the collection of individuals from different cultures. Cultural diversity focuses on the differences in language, race, gender, age and religion. A diverse workforce is important as they generate new perspectives and suggestions.
It helps them to attract more consumers and increase sales. A homogeneous workforce has same thinking styles and ideas which will not generate innovations to compete in the marketplace.
At CIRM, it has a workforce from different countries across the world. There are employees from Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, France, China, India, Korea and Philippine. As the resort management is from Thailand the majority of the Manager level 2 represent by Thais. The rest are well experienced Sri Lankan and Indian and Maldivian managers who are specialized in their particular areas with special technical abilities. Manager level 3 represents Sri Lankans, Indonesians. Level 4 are the assistants to department heads who are from Philippines, and India. Clerical staffs are under the supervision of supervisory levels and clerical staff positions such as room boys; waiters are mostly filled by Maldivians as the organization has to obey the rules of the government by filling up more than 50% of the total carder by locals. Although there are several frustrated supervisors and clerical staff who works at the same position from the opening of the resort which wasn’t promoted or get attention of the management.
Centara Mission and Core values
Sustainability Mission & Mission: “We are committed to operating our business to a high degree of ethical, social and environmentally responsible standards whilst providing an exceptional level of Thai hospitality. We aspire to encourage our stakeholders towards these same ideals, and we are committed to selecting environmentally friendly produce, which in turn allows us to further incorporate sustainable development into our products and services. We are also committed to ensuring a respectful, safe and healthy environment for our employees.”(Centara hotels and resorts, 2014)
Core Values – Centara 3E’S
1. Exceptional “Thai” service
2. Exceptional products and experiences
3. Exceptional performance and return to stakeholders.
As mentioned above according to Centara vision and the core values they have a very strong target on providing an exceptional Thai hospitality to their stake holders. At CIRM it has a workforce from different countries across the world. As there are many employees from eastern Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, China, Korea and Philippines there are issues often come up due communication and misunderstandings between employees.LUX Resorts Maldives which is leading five stars in the hospitality market is the main competitor of CIRM. Talented employee group has become a major reason for this successful company to perform well in the market. These organizations have obtained the benefit of diversified workforce to provide an enhanced service to their guests. Therefore it is necessary for the CIRM to get the maximum use of this diversified multinational workforce.
The diverse workforce brings benefits to the resort. It brings various viewpoints and ideas for business improvements. At the same time since the guests of the resort are from different countries it is useful to have a workforce who are speaking different languages. It makes easy to communicate with the guests and also to attract guests from different countries with different languages.(Phillips, Donald, 2008)
02. Theories of Leadership and Motivation
2.1 Theories of Leadership
In present globalized organizations need leaders with the flexibility to change quickly according to different environments and who can work with multicultural workers and associates (House et al., 2001). A leader who has succeeded in one country can be failed in another country (Javidan et al., 2006: Brodbeck et al., 2000). The following theories can be found in CIRM at different situations.
Great Man theory assumes that leaders are born and not made and it further assumes that great leaders will rise with the appropriate situation. Trait theory assumes that people are born with inherited qualities and some of these qualities will make a leader. A good leader has the sufficient collection of qualities. This theory focuses on investigating social, physical and mental characteristics in order to identify the features that make a leader. CIRM’S Present area general manager is Indian person with high customer handling skills, problem solving abilities.
It made him awarded as the best general manager at the Centara Hotels and awards 2014 (Centara hotels & resorts, 2014).Behavioral theories assume that leaders can be made and are not born and definable and behavior is the basis for successful leadership. This theory focuses on the behavior of the leaders rather than their inherited qualities. According to the annual employee survey at Centara (Appendix 1) there can be issues and complaints between levels 5, 6 as they are not much in to emphasizing interpersonal relations and taking personal interests in the needs of employees. Participative leadership assumes that participation of people in decision making enhances the implementation of decision by those. Even the general manager is a talented award winning person it is stated that he is favorable for Indians when it comes to decision making. This theory assumes that when people participated in decision making, they are more dedicated in implementation of them and it enhances the social commitment to each other .General Manager Overcontroll the abilities of the manager level 2 which limits the opportunities to make new improvements. Situational leadership assumes that the behavior of a leader is based on a number of situational factors. According to this theory an effective leader does not take a decision in a single style because the situational decisions are affected by qualities of followers and factors relating to the particular situation. Transactional leadership assumes that rewards and punishments can be used to motivate the followers. According to this theory the leader identify the requirements of the followers in order to obey the orders of the leader. Rewards and punishments are structured in order to get the works done by the followers as an example at CIRM layer 5-6 has to obey the working rules and regulations, if not necessary punishments (warning letters for absence) been taken by manager level 2.
When it comes to the cultural diversity, it is important to identify the interconnection between cultural diversity and leadership. Considerable number of researchers have discussed about the relationship between cultural diversity and leadership. For examples, Hofstede, 1991; Leslie& Van Velsor, 1998; Gessner, Arnold & Mobley, 1999, House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman & Gupta, 2004. Chemers (1997) and Dorfman (2004) analysed the ability to generalize leadership theories across different cultures. They found that some theories like transformational leadership gives same results in different cultures while other theories like transactional leadership give results that are different across cultures.
2.2 Motivation
“ Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal.”
(Web finance,Inc ,2015)
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs Theory shows the needs of people in a pyramid hierarchy. People satisfy them from bottom to top. The bottom of the pyramid shows physiological needs, next safety needs, then social needs, after that esteem needs and at the top self-actualization. According to this theory people give priority for lower level needs. Such as the basic physiological needs food, shelter, water etc. CIRM has fulfilled the basic needs of the employees by providing facilities such as staff cafeteria, accommodation according to hierarchy levels. Safety needs being taken care of the employees as they are offered high economy security by providing employee salary benefits, Also the staff health and safety needs being taken care. Third level of hierarchy Social level which is interpersonal and involve feeling of belongingness.CIRM has encourage social interactions through building team spirit which helps to improve since of belonging and acceptance among their co workers ,colleagues. Esteem level of the hierarchy describes as human desire to be accepted and valued by others. Employees at CIRM are treated properly and respected equally. Also they are trained to maintain their values and discipline according to the code of conduct.
Self actualization level of needs refers to what a person’s full potential and realization of that potential. It can be reach by personal growth and sense of achievement of each employee.CIRM Career development programs enable the employees to develop their careers achieve personal goals while achieving their life plans.
The significant of these five levels of needs not only illustrates that these five types of needs exist, but also that there is general tendency for people to want to satisfy needs from a lower order to a higher level. These five levels of needs show the form of human needs and does not mean that the relative order of these needs will be the same for each individual.
Figure 2 – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Source : Google images
Two factor theories describe two types of factors that affect employee motivation.They are: hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors are the factors of which the absence makes people motivated and the presence does not have any impact on employees. Motivators are the factors of which the presence makes people motivated and the absence does not make any dissatisfaction.(Phillips, Donald, 2008)
Motivation factors Hygiene factors
Factors that creates job satisfaction which associates to work. Factors that cause dissatisfaction which should be eliminate.
Giving responsibilities provide opportunities to develop. Minimize poor job security.
Recognize contribution towards work Supportive working conditions under supervision.
Creating a rewarding work environment. Flexible company policies, Support culture of respect and relationship with colleagues.
(mind tools,2015 )
These factors help to structure the organization in a way that motivates the employees. But on the other hand it is not simple to identify factors which are hygiene and which are motivators. Because employees tend to attribute satisfaction to themselves and dissatisfaction to the organizational condition.
At CIRM there are long term working supervisory staff that hasn’t been rewarded since they joined the organization but who work hard but still lacking in some technical abilities. These matured and experienced staff can be can be motivated with the effort of effective employee reward system. This reason can limit the ability of creativity of the employees can leads to dissatisfaction. According to Equity theory that the perception about the rewards has an impact on motivation and people tend to compare the reward they received and the effort they have done in order to gain that reward with the others. If they feel fair or equity they will be motivated. If they feel unfairly treated they will not be motivated.(Mullins, 2010)
03. Organization Culture
Organizational culture refers to a combination of values, assumptions, beliefs and practices of an organization. The culture directs how the people in the organization should perform. The culture may differ from organization to organization and organizations develop and maintain a culture which is specific for them. (Slater, Jack, 2002)
Organization culture has certain elements. They are: innovation, consideration on detail, weight on outcome, weight on people, collaboration, fierceness and constancy. Some organizations give greater value for innovations and encourage workers to take risks in order to be result in innovations. Organizations which considering on detail expects accuracy from its employees in their work. Firms which place weight on outcome will focus only on the result and not on how it is achieved. But organizations which place weight on people will consider the impact of decisions on people of the organization. Some organizations structure their tasks in a collaborative manner giving more attention on teamwork rather than individual work. Fierceness refers to whether members of the organization are aggressive in terms of competition among rivalry. Some organizations pay more attention on rules and regulations in order to maintain its stability. (Mullins, 2010) At CIRM managers gives lesser value for innovation and does not encourage employees for novelties and Also at some points it can be seen that the organization place weight on outcome that only focuses on the end result, which can be bad impact on the standard of the end products. Further CIRM pay too much attention to rules and regulations which is not very much satisfying the employee needs freedom to work.
3.1 Dimensions of Diversity
The dimensions of diversity can be categorized as Primary Dimensions of Diversity and Secondary Dimensions of Diversity. These dimensions represent the differences in the workplace. Also they are used to identify people. Another important aspect of understanding the dimensions of diversity is it can make sure the enhancement of guiding abilities which can be used to connect interactive persons and groups.(Slater, Jack, 2002)
Dimensions of diversity also can be described using four layers model. This model assists the managers to realize that people have many characteristics and managers can use those characteristics for organizational success.
Figure 4: The dimensions of diversity wheel
Source : Google Images
The Four Layers Model
Personality: It contains a person’s beliefs, values and his preferences and detests. Personality has an impact and is influenced by other layers. At CIRM diversified personalities with different preferences as the employees are from more than 13 countries their values, believes, preferences change each one to another. Internal Dimensions: It contains the differences which are out of control of the person. Those are the major differences among people. At CIRM s employee base ages such as clerical staff age 18-35 and managers 35-45 .They belongs to some of different ethnic groups such as “Tai/Phu Thai , Thai Chinese ,Malays , Han Chinese, Dravidians. External Dimensions: It contains the differences which are of some control of the person and they may change as time passes. These differences provide the basis for a person’s relationships and his career.
As an example unmarried senior manager may have less potential on holiday plans rather more focus on achieving his career goals.This can be differing to a necessity for a holiday plan of a senior manager who is married with a new born child. Organizational Dimensions: It contains the differences in workplace.They provide the basis for rewards and development decisions in workplace. Comparing to the leading five star luxury resorts in Maldives CIRM gives less priority for employee development programs and reward programs. Lack of structured employee development programs can create a risk of losing key personal and skilled staff for the organization in future .These workplace differences can make an impact on employees’ perception about the job and leads to demortivation.
04. Leadership Styles across Different Cultures
There are different leadership styles in organizations due to the differences in cultures (Hofstede and Hofstede, 2005; Alves et al, 2006).
Autocratic Style Autocratic leaders make individual decisions and they do not take the employee involvement in decision making process. Also they are less concern about people. (Labour management advisor at University of California, Gregorio Billikopf) this leadership style (layer 5) leads to high employee turnover and absenteeism in level 6 at Centara.
Bureaucratic Style Bureaucratic leaders want their employees to obey the policies made by them. Leaders are more likely to keep professional relationships with employees in individualistic cultures. (Cambridge Handbook of Culture, Organizations and Work).At CIRM’s organizational structure shows a clear hierarchy of power is concentrated among a few high-ranking managers, authority is cantered at the top, and information generally flows from the top down.
as an example at career creation for youth the managers likely to strict on rules and regulations as they have to deal with the youth who just leave the school and are more cheerful and jolly.
Democratic style Democratic leaders make participative decisions. Employees are allowed to give ideas and make decisions. This leads for teamwork, employee contentment and employee commitment. For example when dealing with the youth managers at level 1, may tend to use this style as to engage them in groups and get the ideas of active and enthusiastic youngsters.
Further certain adaptation has to done in the leadership style as there can be difficulties encounters due to variouse environment and cultural changes such as a example Russian speaking GRO who has to work under the supervision of a Maldivian department head might face misunderstandings, miscommunications due to the differences between the two cultural characteristics such as behaviors and attitudes, language barriers,customs,lows towards others .This gap of the external communication can be effected for the service delivery.
Cross cultural leadership defined as method to understand leaders who work in globalize markets where leaders are required to adjust to different environments quickly and work with partners and employees of other cultures.(House Et al. 2001) Hofstede’s dimension is a framework used that represent the cultural differences in possible responses to leadership styles as seen below.
Power distance – How people respond to distribution of power and the level at which people accept unequally distributed power. At CIRM high power distances where employees show high respect to their superiors according to the management levels.
Individualism Vs Collectivism- Centara has low individualism and high collectivism culture where working relationships are more supported by friendship, more attention on team work rather than fulfilling goals.
Long term vs. short term orientation – In Centara there is high long term orientation. Therefore the organization is more future oriented in making decisions and strategies. Uncertainty avoidance Some organizations pay more attention on uncertainty avoidance and organizations have more rules and regulations. Therefore people have high stress, aggressiveness and nervousness and leaders have to place more attention for motivating them.
In Centara there is high uncertainty avoidance. As strict rules and regulations which doesn’t create peaceful working environment.
Masculinity versus Femininity: How do rules differ for men and women in different cultures. In Maldives being Muslim country women has to obey the rules of the Muslim culture when they work at resorts.
5. Motivation Techniques across different cultures
5.1Employee Motivation
“Employee motivation is more complex and challenging in culturally diverse organizations than single-culture organizations” (Tayeb, 1998).
According to the mission of Centara, they are devoted to the growth and well being of the employees with the purpose of providing an outstanding quality products and services to its guests. Also they are expecting to deliver their products and services under professional management team while delivering a profitable performance to their stakeholders.
Management Development Program designed for department heads provide the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills of young managers who are working with Centara hotels and resorts in order to make ready them to become future leaders inside Centara hotels and resort. Employee surveys being done twice during a year
Table 1 : Comparison of Employee benefit of CIRM and Lux Maldives resort & Spa
Source: Authors own work
As shown in the comparison, CIRM ‘S main competitor’s employee benefits are effective than CIRM’S benefit plans. As there is an imbalance between the benefits offered to different layers such as Allowances and bonuses procedures. As a leading five star resort CIRM employees benefits should be offered equally from the top management to the bottom layers. As an example there are several unsatisfied employees who work hard long term but not offered any rewards or appreciation. These facts may automatically lead to unsatisfied employees and demotivated workforce. As a leading five star CIRM should deeply consider on the rewarding philosophy, strategies in order to create a suitable working environment for the employees.
5.2Customer Motivation
Differences in cultures lead to differences in customer perception and finally their behavior (McCort and Malhotra, 1993). The differences in customer behavior would result in differences in their motivation across countries.
The following techniques are being used to motivate customers at CIRM .
• Attractive advertising- online based attractive sales and marketing champagnes attract customers.
• Personalize or customize the product-This assists customers to have the product according to their personal requirements – as an example CIRM’S special holiday package on Chinese new-year season.
• Price discrimination -Charging different prices from different customers. For example charging a lesser price from loyal customers. This will also assist in retaining customers.
At CIRM no proper guest data base system to identify the loyal customers. Leading five star resorts such as Taj exotica Maldives has recognized the importance of the value the retaining existing customers and choose to implement a system directed specifically at building customer loyalty.
Further there are often customer complaints when the employees are not delivered the fast and accurate service when not understanding the guest cultures. such as Chinese guest being not treated as the same way as a British guest when the employees are unable to understand the guest culture. These service failures may create dissatisfied customers as they not been delivered what they have expected during their stay.
6. Recommendations
6.1 Recommended Leadership development strategy
Centara has maintained certain leadership styles since the opening of the resort. Transformational Leadership style can be a “process where leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation.” (Mindtools, 2015) First , Leaders with a proven track record of success take direct responsibility for the development of others.(Noel M. Tichy,2002) To develop these characteristics CIRM’s manager level 1 should set up clear goals ,encourage subordinates ,provide support and recognition for all the other employee layers. As an example manager layer 1 can spent more time to coach the layer 2 rather than over controlling them. And help them find their own solutions, which help to create a skilled team, strengthen their self-confidence and built trust on the leader.
6.2 Recommended competitive strategies for future growth
Differentiation strategies are development of a product or service that offers unique attributes that are valued by customers and that customers perceive to be better than or different from the products of the competition. According to Chandrasekhar 2010, Service differentiation means providing meaningful changes in the service offer that add value to the customers and are capable of generating quality perceptions that distinct from competitor offers. Highly differentiate customer experience can be done by creating highly skilled and creative workforce. Encourage creativity: Constant creativity and innovation in products and services can create less competitive risk with their main competitors. As an example Hilton Maldives resort “Kitchen Apprentice Program” provide young youth long-standing team members to develop their technical, leadership and management skills as well as their creativity.
6.3 Recommended responses to the needs and expectations of culturally diverse guests
CIRM’S diversified guests are from China (50%) Japan (25%) Thai (4%) UK (15%) Others (6%) In order to verify needs of the diverse customers it is important that CIRM to recognize, respect and value the differences between different customers. China is recorded as the largest tourist generating country for Maldives. Language and cultural requirement tend to be the main barrier between Chinese tourists. In order to understand the Chinese culture and the guest behavior, CIRM should consider on educating the employees by giving Chinese cultural awareness programs, Chinese language training programs. It can help to remove the language barieer improve the guest relationship through understanding and immediate response to the guest needs .In order to provide superior customer satisfaction ,organizations needed to exceed the customer expectations .
Implementation of Centara Card 1 Loyalty card system can include reward pattern for the number of night stays, free upgrades for sunset rooms, Special amenities. The main purpose of introducing this is to Change the customer behavior pattern by changing customer purchase style and encourages the customers to buy more often and increase the customer retention.
6.4 Recommended techniques to motivate the employees
As recognized earlier there are certain employee layers which haven’t been recognized by the organizations such as supervisory levels and clerical staff levels. CIRM should give each one opportunity for them to grow, as an example long term employees can guide to gain professional achievements through guiding them with higher educational program linked with international tourism and hospitality institute.
As CIRM ‘s employee benefit system is not much effective and competitive comparing to the competitors organization should recognize the benefits of the importance of it .The main purpose is to introduce the employee benefit plan is to make the high standards of the employee productivity by creating bright , enthusiastic and committed workforce .
Table 2: Recommended financial /non financial benefits
Source:Autors own work
Create healthy competition between employees:
All the employees like to feel that they are valued and appreciated. In order to achieve company goals and objectives organization should have strong, motivated workforce. Transparent reward system which covers all layers can give much effect to employees. As recognized earlier no proper system being practiced to reward the employees at CIRM. As an example implementing employee recognition system “THE STARS” – Special Thanks and Recognition System. (Fobes LLC ,2015) This system can link to customer delight to employee rewards, where employee earn points during the year from compliments from guests, compliments from colleagues, and their own suggestions, Committee can be appointed for this to review the suggestions and the nominations from the employees. Three Performance levels in the reward programe as MD’s club,Gold,Silver.Theo outstanding reward system can motivate people to give their contribution of their ideas and efforts at job.
6.5 Recommended techniques to managing and building teams.
Effective HR Training and development systems:
Mr. Neal Goodman, chairman of Global Dynamic Inc once said, “We all judge everybody by our own cultural lens. We have nothing else but our own cultural lens, unless we get proper cultural training, we’re unable to see the same situation from multiple perspectives simultaneously”
CIRM’S existing training programe offer little more than etiquette training, they fail to address the deeper issues that impact communication.CIRM should committed to improve the cross cultural sensivitivity and communication trainings and apply equally from the top to the bottom .These trainings should help to introduce, identify and highlight the cultural differences in the workplace. As an example through cross cultural team building they identify the underlying differences between cultures. Such as Maldivian employees get to aware about Thai culture and it built the mutual understanding and respect between each other .The result of which will be clearer lines of communication. (Shrm Org, 2015)
“Centara Sisters and brothers” – Implementation of “Centara Sisters and brothers committee” is a 20 member committee which represents all nationalities. This committee responsible for coordinating entertainments for multicultural games, events and activities. As an example “ IQ tests , Activities such as , racial discrimination simulation activities, activities to build intercultural respect and understanding .As an example games -Story of my name / Blue eyes – green eyes.(Wilderdom store,2006)
7. Conclusion
Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa Maldives is a family member of Centara Hotels and Resorts ,The resort is endeavoring to conduct its business and operations with high degree of environmental, social and ethical responsibility.Centaras employees are vastly diverse as male, female, young, old from more than ten countries. Developing passionate and committed workforce always been at the Centara’s values. The guidance of an award winning general manager and talented manager’s effort has made them won several awards. Also the Company believes in retaining and developing the skills of its team members and in recruiting as necessary to provide “exceptional Thai service” to guests. Motivational techniques practiced at CIRM are not very effective comparing to the leading competitor resorts.
The analysis has highlighted deeply in some areas that support the future growth of the organization. Creating a positive work environment, recognizing achievements, studying employee satisfaction and providing professional improvement are the some of the suggested employee motivation techniques.
It was noted that differences in customer behavior would result in differences in their motivation across countries. Effective consumer loyalty program can implement to attract more loyal customers .In order to complete with the leaders in the hospitality industry Centara needs improve and strengthen its services and standards through differentiating customer service.
Individual approach, organizational approach can be used to manage cultural diversity. Also there are different responses to meet needs and expectations of culturally diverse guests and team building and managing techniques in order to manage the cultural diversity.

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