Movenpick, training, talent managent

Why hiring the right people is good for the bottom line

Walking around the Zurich Mövenpick for the hotel company’s SHIFT 2018 conference, the first thing you notice is that everyone is wearing red Converse shoes.

SHIFT 2018 is Mövenpick’s annual general manager’s training event, bringing together all of its GMs from around the world with its executive committee, in order to examine the shifts the hotelier needs to make to deal with the changing nature of the industry – from operations and technology to guest experiences.

Craig Cochrane, senior vice president of human resources at Mövenpick, tells me the reasoning behind the distinctive trainers everyone has on. “If we want people to shift, change, move a bit quicker and adapt to a very dynamic landscape, they need to have the right footwear,” he says. “We thought it was a bit of fun. It’s immediately different when the CEO puts a letter in your room saying you can only come to the conference if you wear these shoes.

“We wanted to get people intrigued, feeling comfortable and in partnership. If you look around the room and see all of your colleagues from different hotels, countries and functions represented, but we all have the same shoes on, it means we are all in this together and we will shift together.”

General managers are given training and advice on everything at the event, from social media and finance to CRM systems. Many sessions are based around gamification, where the GMs win prizes for creating great moments for customers, or knowing the best social media hashtags.

“One of things we are talking about in this meeting is the key touch points the guest would have when they stay in our hotel,” explains Cochrane. “We really want the experience to be memorable for the guest, and for them to say they had a wonderful experience.”

Social media is having a profound impact on the way hotels operate, with customers who have had a bad experience not shy to share their ire on Twitter, Tripadvisor or Instagram to let people know about it. “In the past, companies could get away with things that they shouldn’t have been able to get away with,” Cochrane says. “Now they can’t.”

Why hiring the right people is key

Genuinely great customer service, Cochrane points out, starts with hiring the right people – those with a passion for the industry, regardless of background or personality types. “We want introverts in the hotel,” he says. “We want extroverts in the hotel. We want people who are passionate about food. We want people who are passionate about art. We want people who like computers or science. Then whatever kind of guests walk through the door we will have someone who can identify with them.”

To keep up with changing guest demand, Mövenpick has also recruited a special “EXCom-Y” committee, to come up with innovative strategies to attract both guests and talent from the millennial generation. Millennials make up about 30 per cent of the hotel’s total guests, and the shadow group works alongside the hospitality group’s executive committee to look at ways to attract them.

But perhaps a starker reason for getting talent management and training staff right, Cochrane explains that it is good for the profitability of any business. “There is a direct correlation to the bottom line,” he says. “We call it the value-profit change, which is a scientific way of saying if your employees are happy then you make the customers happy. And if the customers are happy they are happy to spend more money – everyone wins.

“The minute the customer starts to lose, the business starts to lose. The minute the business starts to lose then the employees start to lose, and then the shareholders, and then that’s it. Then you might as well stop.

“When a company gets talent management wrong it does not end well for the talent – the people in the organisation – and it does not end well for the bottom line.”

Staff should be working towards a common objective

What is important when it comes to talent management, Cochrane points out, is that an organisation’s staff need to be working towards the same goal. At Mövenpick’s event, it seems, the red Chuck Taylors everyone is sporting are a neat symbol of the hotelier’s commitment to this.

But, snazzy co-ordinated footwear aside, the best way to do this is to decide, says Cochrane, what sort of company you want to be, and what you want to achieve. “Make sure you hire against that. You train against that. You reward people against that and you discipline against that.

“If people don’t follow the kind of values that you say you want to portray as a company, then you pull people up on that and not let it slide. The word is consistency – being consistent around what you said you would do is the key to that.”

Employees also need to be given the chance to develop their own career aspirations, explains Cochrane. For example, if they have a burning desire to be a chef or to work in human resources, the company should give them the opportunity to pursue and train for these things.

The alternative, says Cochrane, is to slide towards a make-do style of management where staff are hurriedly slotted into roles that may not particularly suit them. “It sounds very simple, but very often people make the mistake of putting a body into a job that needs to be done,” he explains. “You can get away with that for a very short amount of time, [but] then don’t be surprised if they do leave. If they have told you this is not what they want to be doing [and that their passions lie elsewhere], if you want them to stay you need to try and realign those things.”

Indeed, in today’s hyper-critical world of social media, businesses themselves can be subject to the same scrutiny from employees that they face from customers. If a company isn’t looking after its staff, it could find itself the subject of a harsh write-up on review sites such as Glassdoor – and find it hard to attract new people as a result.

Training, therefore, is critical to both keeping good staff and attracting new employees. “People love to learn, when you learn you are exercising your brain, you are getting better,” says Cochrane. “It gives you a sense of fulfillment. Any company that wants to keep people needs to show them that it is not [just about] working there but developing as well. It is critical.

“Fundamentally, we all want self-respect. We all want meaning in our lives and dignity. We all want to be challenged and have responsibility. Responsibility makes people blossom – whether you are Generation Z, a millennial or a baby boomer, you want responsibility.

Treat your staff well, says Cochrane, and the rest will follow. “Good people, led properly, given their dignity and allowed to go and do their jobs will do it, so just let them go,” he says. “We over complicate things, sometime with too many systems and too many constraints. If you think someone is a good person, give them a shot. Let them know how important they are to you and watch them grow.”


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