Englishman Abroad: The Different Faces of Productivity

A whirlwind of a week.

When you watch the weather forecast in a place like Tenerife it tends to be pretty similar most of the time, but there’s value in keeping an eye on what’s coming.  You never quite know but it’s good to be prepared.

The clouds are moving in…

Planning for this week was no less important. We knew the team would be under a little extra pressure with ‘Marketing’ on tour in Poland and Denmark and the boss (la jefa) in Portugal for a student travel event.  We also knew we needed to be working smart to get everything done, and this smart working is what leads to productivity.  Don’t let anyone tell you that, in the service sector, being productive is all about efficiency and ticking off lists. There’s a place for efficiency too, and it’s important, but… well… it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Being productive’s about planning, initiative, teamwork, empathy and adaptability.

It’s about many of those things an internship should be designed to offer you – challenge, opportunity, achievement. And it’s about ‘self-efficacy’ – believing you can meet the challenge, take the opportunity and achieve the outcomes you’re looking for.  This week was about the different faces of productivity.

Everyone knew it was coming, so Monday was dedicated to letting those about to travel get set, while the rest of us took the reins for the day-to-day: mailings, phone calls, arranging visits … .

Teresa, second-in-command, needed to take a lead so, on Tuesday, I took some of her mailing-related work, freeing her up to be the boss, while I also started arranging my own support visit with an intern at the Hotel Jardin Tropical and what was to prove a hectic Thursday. I’d agreed to draft a response to a proposed quality framework for internships sent to us from an Erasmus Plus project, so this was something for Tuesday and Wednesday.

In between all this I’ve been making sure to note down a few reflections and details of what’s going on, and working on the project for my Erasmus internship. This has needed to be slotted into spare moments, but was essential to make sure nothing slipped – and knowing my memory that’s easily done!

Popping out to the post office. Turn left at the volcano…

After a trip to the Adeje post office (warming up my driving skills), Wednesday’s intern visit was really useful and confirmed the great opportunities TJT are offering for those with enthusiasm and a desire to learn.  The student is from Hungary, working in a Spanish hotel, using three languages between work and where she’s living, with her Hungarian partner.  She speaks German as well, yet unfortunately seems to have many guests expecting to speak French.  Sometimes you can’t win! And she’s loving it.  The hotel is superb, the team have accepted her quickly as one of their own, and she’ll be working between customer relations and marketing in her time here.

Planning and logistics for Thursday was the next priority, with an early start to come and a long day ahead.  I’d need to use the car first thing, so took it back to the apartment ready to leave before 7 the next morning.  So Thursday at 7 I picked up the first of two newly-arrived Irish students at his hotel.  And the other intern … in his room… incommunicado! With the help of reception staff we managed to rouse him, phone with no battery, portable charger the same, no alarm, no breakfast and slightly hungover. Great combo. 

So, straight to the police station – to register both for their national i.d. as an intern. A long wait for the interview appointment and then to the social security for the second form of i.d. for tax. … One down, one to go, because one of the hotels hadn’t stamped the letter of introduction. … Back to the hotel, back to the social security, find somewhere for the car (central Los Cristianos isn’t the easiest place to find a space)… sorted. And back to the hotel via TJT office to collect paperwork for our next new arrival from Germany. … Back to the Comisária de Policía, meet the student who’s come with another company we work with. More waiting in line for the interview, but mercifully quick and efficient. … A race to social security before they close at 2. Then driving her to where she’s living and working at a hotel near the airport … and then back to TJT, wondering how long I could carry on driving with the orange fuel light on! My own fuel was running low too – need LUNCH!

All in all, a busy day but half a dozen happy customers including our various clients; the personal touch and quality of service reaffirmed. Just need to find a petrol station on the way ‘home’ so I can drive again tomorrow.

Students and Teresa presenting at IES

On Friday the taxi service resumed, to take the team to a vocational school (IES) in Adeje.  Two interns would be talking about their own experience of working abroad to students thinking about doing the same outside Tenerife, while I’d be talking with the school about Erasmus projects and teacher visits. The enthusiasm was clear – for gaining experience abroad, for meeting and supporting visitors, and the experience of genuine hospitality was palpable.

The day, and the hectic week as a whole, shows the importance of working together to get things done.  To be productive. Getting things done with a bit of planning, a lot of initiative and flexibility, personal attention … and a little empathy and humour. We’ve packed a lot into the week, between us, and everything we needed and more was achieved.  Maybe not entirely efficient, but the better for it – certainly effective and personal.  Think I earned the coffee, and a drink or two with the interns. 

Now… where’s my bed? I need to sleeeeeeep!

Published by John Humphreys

Education and leisure industry professional with over 30 years' experience and a focus on delivering international experiences and employability development.

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