Ms. Connolly

Human Resources, Recruitment & Training

Resolutions That Can Help You Attract and Maintain Talent

By Zoe Connolly, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight

While the holidays are traditionally among the most busy times in the hospitality industry, enterprising executives and entrepreneurial managers also see an opportunity to implement new resolutions that set the groundwork for a successful next year. These can range in scope, from implementing new technologies or team building initiatives, through refining social media presence and cleaning up job postings.

New Year's creates an opportunity for those in the industry to review the past year, build on successes, and correct concerns.

Here are six ideas that can make your resolution building season worthwhile, while creating goals that you can stick to all year round.

Clean up Your (Digital) Profile

For better or worse, social media is now a part of a property's online presence; one that can influence the opinion of travelers and potential employees alike. Make sure what is on social media, job sites and being distributed is what you want the people you're trying to attract to see.

Start with basics like questions about reviews. Are they accurate? If they're negative, have you made steps to improve a situation, and in the cases of many review sites, let the site's editing team know you've made the proper steps? If they're positive (we're hoping for this), do you a plan in place to thank guests who have left them? Next move on to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Do these sites put your best foot forward?

From the perspective of guests, these small things can go a long way. From the perspective of a new VP of Revenue, VP of Digital Marketing or a GM you're hoping will give your company a second look? They can be the difference between someone accepting an offer and deciding to go elsewhere.

Make 2016 be your year to shine, instead of ending up in the same place next New Years?

Assess Your Team

As 2015 comes to a close, take a hard look at the team you've built and the situations they've been in. What were the successes and failures? Are there opportunities where the team could have used additional support in order to be successful (yes,that is a 360 degree review)? Are there gaps to fill?

Oftentimes, management and leaderships focuses on filling an open position or hiring for a particular role, when the needs have shifted and new employees might be required elsewhere. As an executive, discuss with the managers and/or people affected hiring decisions, and make sure the roles that are open are roles that will make an impact.

In addition, resolve to spend extra time around organizational superstars. See if there are ways to empower them to take on more responsibility. In addition, spend time with employees that are on their way out (those that resolve to work somewhere else in 2016). They may be checked out, but as such, they may be willing to highlight operational deficiencies that can impact an entire organization. Always make it a point to review exit interviews. These can help spot problems early, allow your to make changes, and actually improve retention for your best employees.

Rewrite Job Descriptions

Gone are the days of standardized job descriptions or mile long descriptions. Review your job descriptions and write them as if you were speaking with the manager or the candidate. Basic requirements are needed but they should get to the point. Listing everything the candidate may do one day turns people off. Include what the employee will really be doing, what they'll be reviewed on, and importantly, where there is a line of sight into growth opportunities.

In addition, learn from those who are successful in the industry. Richard Branson regularly posts about hiring processes and looking for great people. A search for "Brand Ambassador" on Google brings up hundreds of job descriptions, dozens of stories about how to better build brand ambassadors, and a series of influencers who pen regular columns (or post regular blogs) discussing the importance of each employee understanding their responsibilities as a representative of your brand. I'm not saying you need to steal materials from these folks.. but maybe you can borrow liberally.

The job description plays a critical role in moving qualified candidates past the first interview and getting them excited about a potential role. Hiring manager that can use the description as a set of "talking points" to discuss the job, but also maintain an interactive environment in the interview, are more likely to hire their first choice.

Enhance and Document Your Company Culture

Company culture is important, to employees (and potential employees) of all levels. In the hiring process, you may find someone that matches a (newly rewritten) job description on paper, but the fit might not be right on a cultural perspective. Hiring someone who can't become part of the team is a great way to ensure you're stuck looking for someone else.

That said, it's very easy to say things like "we have a great culture." It's far harder to quantify that culture. Doing so, however, will greatly aid in the hiring process, while also giving current employees an opportunity to contribute (improving retention). Employee surveys, even those hosted on inexpensive or free tools (like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms), can provide a terrific window into a company's culture. For them to be successful though, employees must understand why the survey is taking place, and that the expected outcomes will be. Explaining "we want to better understand our culture to ensure we hire people who will be successful here" is a good way to start. Anonymity also helps. No one wants to feel like their boss is secretly out to get "dirt" that can be used to replace an employee somewhere down the line.

Around a year ago, Paul Keegan posted on Inc Magazine, a strong list of tips for writing employee surveys. One of the most important tips he offers is "keep it short, but follow up." For employees to feel as though their opinions are being heard, the follow up steps have to be evident. This can be as simple as a quarterly newsletter to employees, or something more regular and in-person.

A documented corporate culture will also help a hiring manager (or recruiter) paint an accurate picture of employment at the hotel. Here's a great Forbes article from a couple years ago that talks about how every new hire should improve employee engagement. Being able to accurately represent an individual property's culture can help recruit the right people, and set them up for nearly immediate success.

Start a Training Routine

Just like starting a new gym regimen is tough, so is infusing training into the regular agenda. However, it's a must to get your team in shape.

Training doesn't need to be "lecture" style. Many hospitality companies today take small groups off site to run simulations or mock guest experiences. Generally speaking, each company that does this finds that they have a terrific actor on their staff (usually the one who plays 'angry guest'), and more often than not, groups return with a newfound camaraderie.

For leaders who want to find ways to incorporate "fun" into their documented company culture, training sessions can play an important role. In addition, employee training can help to build engagement and retention. Employees who have regular training sessions generally feel valued, and are more likely to stay in an organization.

For potential new hires, established training programs can be critical in highlighting hotel's forward-thinking nature. A formalized approach to training shows candidates that their prospective employer cares about keeping quality people around for the long term, and offers line-of-sight into the "next step" they can hope to take as an employee.

Resolve to Have an Open Door

Communication remain one of the most important skills that a hotel leader can have, from the board room to the check in counter. Employees today expect an opportunity to be heard, and nothing sets a hotel up for success like an open door policy.

Just like most people make a New Year's resolution, hotels should consider doing the same in order to both remain effective, and to improve. And these improvements don't have to become giant sponges of time. A quick employee survey to find out what makes the staff tick. A quarterly note to employees to highlight advances or improvements. An email to employees to say Happy Birthday.

Hoteliers who are successful will resolve to make 2016 better than 2015… and they'll take steps to ensure that's the case.

Zoe Connolly is the co-founder and managing director for Hospitality Spotlight, a full service executive search firm for the hospitality and travel industries. For more than a decade, she’s pioneered innovative and proactive recruiting efforts, connecting the best talent with the best companies, across all levels of organizations. Currently, through working with clients like Starwood, Viceroy and Pacifica Hotels, Hospitality Spotlight has emerged as one of the go-to firms for senior level talent in the hotel and travel technology space. A refreshing combination of an expansive network and brutal honesty continues to push Ms. Connolly and her clients, both companies and candidates into a bright spotlight. Ms. Connolly can be contacted at 858-230-8501 or zoe@hospitalityspotlight.com Please visit www.hospitalityspotlight.com for more information. Extended Bio...

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