The Portman Hotel Company
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The Portman Hotel Company is facing some serious issues after its first year of operations: The personal valet’s (PV’s) morale is down. 50% quit their job since the hotel opened. Many PVs are not performing up to expectancy. The guests are starting to see mistakes. This gives rise to ask what the causes for the problems Portman is experiencing are.

I see the job design as the main cause for the unsatisfactory performance of the PVs. Following Robert Simon’s article “Designing High-Performance Jobs”, the job design spans four dimensions: Span of control, accountability, influence and support. The hotel asks its employees to “overwhelm guests by the professional, cheerful and immediate response to every request”. To deliver such high performance, the four spans have to match and support the hotel’s strategy which is not the case here.

Span of control means the range of resources for which an employee is given decision rights. The span of control is very narrow, since the resources provided to each PV are limited and not under their control. They have to work on specific floors during specific hours with specific colleagues. The PVs are not supposed to take far reaching decisions but follow the needs of the guests to make the hotel an “enjoyable experience”.

The span of accountability refers to the range of trade-offs affecting the measures used to evaluate a manager’s achievements. Whereas jobs in most hotels are defined narrowly, PVs are supposed to perform all sorts of tasks ranging from typical work of a maid to pleasing the customers at the highest service levels with varying performances at all times. This translates into a high span of accountability where PVs have a wider freedom to work according to unforeseeable customer needs with the trade-off that the performance cannot be measured narrowly.

The span of influence corresponds to each employee’s sphere to influence the work of others. In this case, the sphere of influence is narrow. PVs experience numerous problems in working with other decentralized departments. In the case of the purchase of tickets, the concierges have even taken a competency away from the PVs who were unable to stop this.

Span of support refers to the amount of support an individual can expect from people in other organizational units. The span of support is very narrow. The Portman Hotel wants to deliver a service at Asian level but with only 1/3 of the staff to control costs. This results in a lack of staff in general and of supervisors in particular to coordinate the work among the different teams. There are problems with supplies, laundry, the filling of the mini bars etc. There is no ongoing training for employees because they are very busy.

While the span of control and support are the organizational resources that the company provides to the employees, the span of accountability and influence stand for the demand of organizational resources that an employee needs. In order for a job to be well designed, both control and support have to be in equilibrium with accountability and influence. This is not the case here which is why the PVs are unsatisfied with their job.

For the small amount of resources PVs control it would be key to provide them with

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Job Design Spans And Portman Hotel Company. (April 11, 2021). Retrieved from