Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Evolution of “Human Resources” (Surrounding Yourself with the Best)

Many things have changed since I first entered the hotel business, now over 25 years ago, and many roles within the industry have also changed, as a result of the evolution of our business, and perhaps most significantly, the evolution of our workforce.

I can certainly recall with great clarity the shifts that I have seen over the years as I have been in various discussions and meetings over the years, where we have been discussing how to work with baby boomers, gen x’ers, gen y’s, as well as having witnessed the shift in the employee’s mentality and what was and is important to them in an employer.  This too has changed dramatically over the years, and then there are the unions, or lack thereof, depending on where you are in the world.

This and many other factors has contributed to the shift in what it means to be an effective Director of Human Resources in today’s hotel business, although I would argue that the fundamentals have largely remained unchanged – look after your employees, and they will look after the guests.

Still, the role has changed, there is no argument.  Our human resource professionals have had to evolve to keep pace with the changing needs, and the changing demographics, of our employees.  A director of human resources who once spent a good deal of his or her time managing benefits and organizing the occasional staff recognition event or party and concentrating on managing the flow of paperwork in support of progressive discipline, now spends his or her time largely functioning in a capacity that I call relationship management.  It is, in my opinion, the future of human resources, and our industry.

Sure, benefits administration is still important, as are employee recognition events, but far more important is the responsibility to manage the relationships within the hotel in pursuit of a truly harmonious environment where employees feel valued and appreciated, and as a result, they in turn deliver the highest level of service to our guests, while providing unconditional support to each other.

This takes a commitment from everyone in a leadership capacity, and it could be argued that it is equally incumbent on all of the members of the leadership team to work to achieve this goal, and I would agree.  That said, I also believe, in as much as we surround ourselves with “experts” and “champions” in different roles and with different responsibilities, that it is ultimately the responsibility of the director of human resources to champion this cause and ensure in doing so, that it is indeed a key focus of all of the members of the leadership team – without exception.

That takes a special person, a person who must be confident in their role, they must know that they have the support of the general manager, and everyone on the leadership team for that matter, to hold the general manager and others accountable when he or she sees something that deviates from their path, something that threatens the very relationships that are the foundation of their commitment to their employees, and to each other.

The director of human resources was always an important member of a successful team, but perhaps now more than ever before in the evolution of the hotel business, it is imperative that you have the right person in this role in your hotel, and, that they be given the support that they need to fulfill on the obligation to maintain a harmonious environment where employees can flourish and relationship management is a top priority.

At the end of the day, this is the service industry and certainly one of the most important groups to focus on providing the highest level of service to is our employees.  Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your guests.  It’s all about relationships.

Need an experienced hospitality professional to help your property reach its full potential?  Contact me.

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