The Ability to Attract Talent - What's Your Reputation on the Street?
By Frank Speranza President, Hospitality Talent Scouts Executive Search | October 13, 2013
As an owner of a hospitality executive search firm, I and my staff spend hours every day interviewing candidates and listening to their eyewitness testimony about the good, bad, and ugly of the companies and leaders they work for or have worked for in the past. Their statements lead to a preponderance of evidence on specific companies and leaders that is pretty convincing for or against them as an attractive employer.
We know that we are not the only ones hearing these testimonies; so are other potential, talented candidates an organization might be seeking to secure for employment in their company. We often explore the types of evidence we hear for or against organizations and leaders, more specifically, just how much their reputation factors into an organization's ability to secure the best available talent. It is amazing to me how many employers and leaders truly don't understand the perception of their companies or themselves as leaders in the market place of our industry on the local, national, and international levels. So with that statement, I raise the following two questions:
- Do you know what the testimony is for or against your organization as an employer?
- Do you know what the testimony is for or against you as an individual leader?
If you're not concerned by this, or if you have a distorted perception of your reputation, you're probably already experiencing the negative effects of it on your ability to secure the best available talent.
I find it interesting that hospitality organizations spend thousands of dollars to measure Guest Satisfaction, Associate Satisfaction, and Market Share but miniscule investments, if any, to find out why individuals join their organizations and why individuals leave their organizations. These are actions by candidates and employees that are definitive decisions and often have great meaning behind them-meanings that should be explored. I won't give a dissertation on all the ways I feel you can measure this, but I want to give a real clear picture on how this affects you in the market place when it comes to securing the brightest and the best talent.
Let's start with property-based talent searches, and I would like to use an example from early in my own career to drive home my point. Over twenty years ago, I was in the process of preparing for the opening of the now-Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City (then Hotel Macklowe and Macklowe Conference Center) as the Executive Assistant General Manager. One of the many departments I was responsible for was security. You should know that this was a time of great transition for Times Square. It was not the Times Square that we know today that is such a tourist attraction. At that time, it was seedy and filled with cheap pornography shops and unsavory characters, including prostitutes and pick pockets, not the tourist mecca it is today. The Marriott Marquis was the first iconic hotel in Times Square to open in 1985 and had started to pave the way, but again, the area was far from the place it is today.
As the opening Executive Assistant General Manager of this major hotel, one of my major concerns was the safety and security of our guests. I knew that if we opened in this location without the tightest and best security that was effective but not invasive to our guests that we could be doomed. I remember lecturing the opening security staff about the fact that we wanted to be known among pick pockets, bag pickers, prostitutes, and thieves as the hotel to just stay away from because that hotel's security staff just makes it too hard to make a hit. I recognized even back then at a very young age that the friends of prostitutes are other prostitutes. That the friends of pick pockets are other pick pockets. That the friends of bag pickers are other bag pickers. So my thought was that if they learn very early that this hotel was just too hard to infiltrate, guess what? They were going to tell all their friends in those professions to just go somewhere else. Well, it worked, and we really never had the problems that some of the other hotels opening around that time had.
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