Hotel / Catering

Setting the record

by Isabella Lee

Doris Ip, director of human resources
The Excelsior Hong Kong
Photo: Lewis Wong
Online performance management system provides clear objectives for hotel staff

The good times are starting to roll back but with increased business activity, many companies find it hard going to recruit and retain qualified, talented staff.

Many employers are preparing to fight for new staff with bigger pay packages and strong recruitment campaigns. For others, however, such quick-fix measures are not a primary concern in spite of the competitive market. The Excelsior Hong Kong is a case in point, one that is adopting a more proactive approach to solve this reoccurring problem.

"There is a list of conditions for people to consider before they sign on with an organisation. Salaries and benefits are definitely important but we find that both our existing staff and new hires are also seeking something more than monetary rewards," observes Doris Ip, director of human resources, The Excelsior Hong Kong. "They are looking forward to the opportunities the hotel can give them at different stages of their whole career."

Therefore, it is crucial to understand the strengths of every team member and to tailor appropriate training programmes. To accomplish this directive, the hotel created PROFILE, an online performance management system that stores the core competences of individual positions and performance records for every member of staff.

Profiling positions

With the online system, the skill requirements for every position have become more transparent and comprehensible. For example, a restaurant manager is expected to manage the team efficiently and the system shows the relevant criteria and attainment levels. As a result, communication between departments and individuals has greatly improved.

"It is crucial for the hotel to set up a fair evaluation system for managing our talent. In fact, it is not just for tracking performance. By collecting profiles of all our people, the system gives the management team a clear picture of the overall human resources in our hotel. Essentially, it brings together details necessary for us to analyse our potential training needs quantitatively and objectively," says Ms Ip.

She adds, "It is also a key tool to tell us the right direction for when we plan our recruitment activities in future. As a whole, the system is a core strategy for The Excelsior and even for the entire Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group."

After the needs for developing professional competence are identified by the system, the hotel ensures staff are well informed of the results and designs training programmes for different levels of employees based on the findings. For instance, if the past records show a lack of communication skills and leadership at the management level, the hotel will organise a programme for this group to strengthen these particular areas.

"Our people appreciate not only the copious resources we invest in grooming them, but also the hotel's efforts in helping them to grow in their careers. In addition, our position as a member of an international hotel group attracts those who aspire to become a significant part of a worldwide brand," Ms Ip points out.

Career development

Ms Ip reveals that the sophisticated talent management system is standardised across the entire hotel group. A front office manager at The Excelsior Hong Kong is assessed in the same way one is at the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona. If there is a vacancy in Boston, an employee in Hong Kong will be considered with equal preference against other colleagues in the hotel's worldwide talent pool.

As the global economy continues to rise, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is expanding at a substantial speed with several new properties being established around the globe every year. For people who are looking to step into the service industry, The Excelsior Hong Kong can potentially translate into the fast track for senior positions. The hotel's promote-from-within policy gives individuals exposure to the local hotel industry as well as international experience.

"Besides the optimistic outlook for professional development we offer to our colleagues, our culture plays a vital role when it comes to people management. We have learnt from our colleagues that a human touch and peer interaction are among the top considerations for them to stay with us. I am glad we can create and maintain this family environment for our colleagues," Ms Ip says.

Alternative approach

  • Systematic staff performance management helps combat staff turnover
  • Promotion-from-within policy retains quality talent
  • Special training programmes target individual career development needs

Taken from Career Times 7 May 2010, B10

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