Using the boiling frog theory to improve performance management

I’ve heard from many sales managers and revenue experts that the Maldives is expected to face significant low occupancy in the upcoming months. Especially for the upcoming festive. So, as an operational management person responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations for guest certifications, I may not be the most credible person to write about it. Nevertheless, I have decided to apply the “boiling frog” theory to contextualize these facts. Allow me to begin.

If you’ve ever handled a frog, you’re aware of its surprising agility and knack for escape. However, a 19th-century experiment presents an intriguing paradox about these little creatures. The experiment involved placing a frog in boiling water, where it would promptly leap out. But when the researchers placed a frog in cold water and gradually heated it, the frog didn’t notice the increasing temperature and eventually boiled to death. this may sound very basic but it is a great concept to contextualize this fact.

While the empirical accuracy of the boiling frog experiment is a subject of debate, it serves as an apt metaphor for various situations, particularly in organizational cultures, like managing a resort in the Maldives where heavily depends on good occupancy.

Think of your resort as the frog. The water is the range of challenges the resort faces – from guest satisfaction, staff engagement and other issues, to competitive threats. If these challenges were to hit all at once, the resort would react quickly, as the frog does when dropped into boiling water. However, when these issues creep up slowly, there is a risk that no one will notice until it’s too late – just like the frog in the gradually heated water.

Now, let’s dive into how we can apply this theory to avoid the boiling frog syndrome in your resort management:

1. Be Vigilant to Subtle Changes

As a resort manager or specific section head, it’s crucial to be aware of the slightest changes in your environment. This could be a dip in staff morale, a slight increase in guest complaints, or a gradual drop in revenues. These could be early warning signs of bigger problems brewing. Don’t dismiss them just because they aren’t immediate crises.

2. Foster Open Communication

Encourage a culture where every team member, regardless of their role, feels comfortable sharing their observations and concerns. Open communication can help identify problems in their infancy before they balloon into unmanageable crises.

3. Ownership and Accountability

Everyone on your team, including yourself, should take ownership of the resort’s challenges. If trust is eroding, or if there’s a lack of engagement, it’s everyone’s responsibility to address it, not just the person at the top. As a leader, model this behavior so that your team feels empowered to do the same.

4. Courage to Have Difficult Conversations

Sometimes, resolving issues may involve having tough conversations, be it with staff, guests, or suppliers. This might involve admitting mistakes, confronting people, or making unpopular decisions. These conversations can be uncomfortable, but they are essential for maintaining the health of your resort.

5. Seek Help When Needed

If you’re unsure how to handle an issue, don’t hesitate to seek help. This could be from a colleague, a mentor, or an industry expert. Remember, it’s better to ask for advice and address the issue than to ignore it and let it escalate.

As the saying goes, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Let’s not be the boiling frog. Let’s leap into action at the first sign of trouble, and ensure that you resorts continue to be the paradisiacal destinations they are known to be. After all, a proactive approach to management doesn’t just “save the frogs” – it ensures the sustainability and success of our resorts.

All I know is that for Maldivian travelers, the Maldives has become a very expensive destination, and operating costs have skyrocketed. Therefore, it is our utmost responsibility to take measures without compromising guest satisfaction.

Shameem Mohamed
Shameem Mohamed is a seasoned hotelier with a remarkable track record of more than two decades in the industry. Having honed his skills at various luxury resorts, he now holds the position of Resident Manager at Kuramathi Maldives. Beyond his professional achievements, Shameem is an avid marathon runner and a passionate writer. His philosophy revolves around placing guests at the heart of his work, striving for professional excellence by forging genuine connections and delivering personalized service.