Proven Strategies for Successful Talent Management
By JoAnne Kruse Founder, HCpartners | March 18, 2012
Three of the nation's top hospitality brands gathered together recently at the 6th Annual National HR in Hospitality Conference & Expo in San Francisco to share how they have taken a unique approach to building their organizations' talent bench. This highly anticipated session, "Re-Building the Bench: Strategies for Improving Your Organization's Talent Depth," featured an expert panel of HR executives from Hilton, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, and the Denihan Hospitality Group. The panel discussed provided a unique insight as to how these leading brands of varying size and complexity successfully tackle today's current talent challenges, and how they are approaching strategic issues of the future.
As a result of the hospitality industry's high turnover rate, it's vital that hospitality businesses remain competitive by being able to identify, train and retain top employees. During a panel discussion facilitated by JoAnne Kruse, Managing Director of HR consultancy HCpartners at the 2012 HR in Hospitality conference this past February, Chief HR Officer panelists Matthew Schuyler of Hilton Worldwide, Leslie LeRude from Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, and Gregg Smith with Denihan Hospitality Group disclosed the essential elements of a successful strategy to building bench strength, creative ways for sourcing and pipeline development, best practices for developing top performers for potential needs, current technology solutions and other essential aspects of effective talent management for future success.
The panelists openly discussed the implications of the Great Recession on talent development investments, and shared how best practices for how each of their unique businesses have ensured a steady and ready pipeline of talent. Talent development, historically thought of as skill development for the front line and management development for everyone else, has evolved into a more sophisticated approach at developing skills and capabilities of individual and groups in line with the business strategy and perceived future talent requirements. Businesses committed to developing talent from within complete a regular review of talent through performance and competency assessments, and map these capabilities against future requirements. Often succession planning – or some version of career development and placement– are included as part of the analyses. Not many organizations execute succession planning down to the front line levels, all three businesses conduct extensive discussions with management and provide a breadth of training and career growth opportunities for staff. Although each business operates in different environments, there were several shared points between them, namely: the importance of customization, communication and recognition.
Customization and Communication
As technology becomes more sophisticated and available, many company Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) have developed into data management and delivery systems. These systems allow for a high level of customization in employee user experience, whether that is in individual access to 401k and benefit portals, or unique career and performance assessment tools. The lower expense and ease of use of tools such as the iPod and iPad have revolutionized the way managers and companies can communicate "just in time". At Kimpton, iPads are used as part of a virtual bulletin board and communication device, ensuring a consistent set of messaging and easy access to (in particular) back of house staff. Ease of updates, user experience and mobility of the tool encourages employees to engage and actively pursue updates.
Other efforts at customized solutions include the creation of a mentor program, a developmental experience that benefits the mentor and the protege. Whether a formal structure that carefully matches personality, interests and experiences like at Kimpton, or a less formal and voluntary program like at Denihan, mentor programs provide great coaching and teaching experiences for the mentor, and exposure to a more seasoned veteran's knowledge and network cache for the protege. Mentoring is usually a formal or informal relationship between two people-a senior mentor (usually outside the protege's chain of supervision) and a junior protege. The most effective mentor programs mentoring programs require clear expectations, organizational commitment, a stated methodology that helps define the relationship, and a process for governance. Programs can be used as part of an onboarding process to assimilate new hires, skill enhancement and/or knowledge transfer, career development, customer service or sales role modeling, as part of a broader program to drive retention/engagement, and in executive and leadership skill development. Each of the panelists describe the success of these programs in building capability, but also in reinforcing the culture and building stronger levels of engagement for participants and others as well.
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