Dávid Balog: Honesty, Objectivity, and Courtesy Work Best for Feedback
He graduated from the Institute of Management at UCM and manages the aqua park in Trnava. In an interview, he talked about the challenges and opportunities in managerial work in the tourism industry and reflected on his student days.
You graduated in Tourism and Hospitality Management from the Institute of Management at UCM. Why did you choose this study program?
I chose this study program because tourism and hospitality have been a part of my life for 15 years. All my previous work has been closely related to it. Tourism and hospitality are among the rapidly growing industries. More and more people are traveling and seeking services in tourism and accommodation, creating a demand for qualified managers.
Whom would you recommend to study management at UCM?
I would recommend it to students who want broad employment opportunities, whether in hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and similar fields. Of course, their managerial potential can also be applied in other industries.
What do you fondly remember from your student days?
I often think about the subject called semester projects, where we could propose what events we wanted to organize, whether it's a workshop, celebration, and so on. It was a team effort to bring out the managerial potential in each person. Organizing events and brainstorming sessions provided a lot of fun.
What basic skills should a good manager possess?
In my opinion, a good manager should have the ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions and be willing to learn new things. They should be able to analyze data and information effectively. Time management, motivating, managing, and developing employees are crucial skills. Communication skills, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, are essential.
Management is largely about communication with people. What works best for you in giving feedback to your colleagues?
Yes, management is about daily communication with people. I consider giving feedback crucial because it helps improve performance and motivates. Honesty, objectivity, and courtesy work best for me. In my opinion, it's necessary to provide both positive and negative feedback. When giving feedback, I try to prepare what I want to say and allow enough time for the conversation.
The only limit in career growth is yourself.
You also communicate with customers and suppliers. What strategy do you adopt for these two groups of people?
When communicating with customers, a key strategy is a quick response to questions or complaints, leading to increased satisfaction. It's essential to listen to customers' needs, making it easier to consider whether everything is in order or if there's room for improvement. Communication with suppliers is about building and maintaining good relationships. Negotiation skills are crucial. Adhering to agreements should be a priority for successful business in any industry.
During your career as a director, you've experienced several crises, especially the pandemic. How must the management style change in times of crisis?
During a crisis, it's essential to approach unexpected situations rationally, set processes and the functioning of the company. Immediate negotiations with suppliers about the current situation, possibilities for settling obligations, ongoing communication with customers, managing employees—all under the stress of an uncertain future for the company and its employees. It was never easy, but it's also an experience and part of a manager's life.
What does your typical week look like as the director of an aqua park?
(Laughs) This question amused me because I don't know where to start. A typical week is never typical. For seven years, I've been telling myself that nothing can surprise me anymore, but I'm very wrong. In short, the day begins by inspecting the operation, individual facilities, and employees. If the situation requires it, I deal with any malfunctions, shortcomings, and so on. My work also involves handling phone calls and emails, communicating with managers, reception, and maintenance departments. I also meet with suppliers and potential partners. I look for new clients, plan various events to increase attendance, and much more. In this job, I've learned to react flexibly to various situations.
Must a person be born a manager, or can it be learned to some extent?
In my opinion, anything can be learned to some extent. The difference is whether a person has the potential and, most importantly, whether they want to learn. Developing managerial skills is crucial for being a good manager. No one knows everything, so it's good if someone has potential in something and is aware of it, continuing to develop it.
In the role of a director, you must trust your people.
How to avoid falling into the role of micromanagement? Is it possible?
Everything is possible if you have a good team. Trusting your employees, allowing them to work independently and make decisions, are key principles of effective management that help me avoid micromanagement.
You certainly have many responsibilities that require good planning.
How do you set up time management to handle everything and still have time to relax?
As I mentioned in a previous question, having a good team makes setting up time management easier. Planning activities and delegating tasks allow me to handle everything and have time to relax. As a manager, you need to know how to say no; otherwise, you can easily jeopardize your productivity. When plans fail, it's crucial to know how to improvise, react promptly to emerging changes.
What advice would you give to current students at the Institute of Management regarding their career growth?
That the only limit to their career growth is themselves.