Using Talent Management to Drive Competitive Advantage

By Adam Cobb Regional Manager, Halogen Software | November 06, 2011

Hotel executives are looking for new ways to create a competitive advantage in a tight economy and talent management offers a relatively untapped opportunity to maximize operations and focus on delivering outstanding customer service. While other areas of hotel businesses have already been optimized, human resources continues to be challenge.

Human resource management is the most troubling issue of concern to managers and executives in the lodging industry worldwide. A 2008 survey of hotel managers conducted by the Cornell Centre for Hospitality Research identified a common set of shared problems that impede the ability of industry leaders to manage effectively, with human resources issues being at the forefront. Over 60 percent of respondents from six different regions of the world in both general manager and executive positions reported that the human resource issues of attraction, retention, training, and morale were key areas of concern.

Why Goal Management?

As a practice, talent management enables organizations to develop, manage and retain workers and includes functions such as recruiting, learning/training, compensation, employee performance management and succession planning. Talent management is based on the premise that employees are any organization's most valuable asset. In the hotel industry where customer service is the foundation of success, effective talent management is of particular importance.

A talent management program that includes effective goal management enables organizations to create a true competitive advantage. It aligns the workforce so that employees understand how their goals connect to and support overall organizational goals, enabling the entire team to pull in the same direction. However, goal management is more than simply assigning goals to employees and reviewing performance on an annual or semi-annual basis. It's about getting every employee to use and develop their talent, skills and experience in a way that drives business results for the organization.

To ensure your hotel creates and implements a goal management strategy with impact, here are four best practices to follow:

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.