Comment: Talent alone is not enough

Radisson Hotel Group HR head Harpreet Singh Chhatwal discusses the importance of teaching your team how their actions can feed into much larger goals

Harpreet Singh Chhatwal
Harpreet Singh Chhatwal

Radisson Hotel Group is one of the world's largest hotel groups, with more than 95,000 team members worldwide; it spearheads eight distinctive hotel brands with more than 1,400 hotels in operation and under development. Underpinning its operations across the globe is the service philosophy that ‘Every Moment Matters’.

The group’s rich portfolio includes: Radisson Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inn & Suites by Radisson. The group’s vision is to be one of the top three hotel companies for owners, guests and employees.

To achieve the above vision is a mammoth but achievable challenge. Each segment of the HR function was dissected, learnt, mapped with the world class across industries and be nimble enough to implement.  All leading companies will have great systems, but our differentiator will be Implementation and execution.

Bringing the learning to the learner
Centre of Excellence for L&D is an agile function constantly innovating and discovering what’s a ‘Better Way’ or What Next?’ Similar to Maslow’s Need hierarchy motivation model, Radisson Hotel Group (RHG) has a very structured L&D approach to get its talent ready for current and future challenges. Starting from laying the right foundations to supervisory skills and managerial skills to niche leadership development.

The organisation has massively invested in digital L&D to achieve consistency, speed and a widespread impact. Each employee has to be positively motivated to drive his/her learning needs whilst the organisation will provide the catalyst for career progression and success. We realise the huge untapped potential of local talent and are creating market specific L&D opportunities to develop and deploy local talent. Partnering with external specialists for skill development programmes and converting documented SOPs into multimedia rich content which is proven to be more engaging is one of the many initiatives for development of local talent that we have embarked upon. Below is a glimpse of Radisson Academy Live which is like a mini MBA across hotel disciplines and participants can choose the course delivered by subject matter experts validated by RHG’s Centre of Excellence. 100 plus participants across 15 nationalities enhanced their competence across disciplines at our Radisson Academy Live at Radisson Blu Upper Hill Nairobi, Kenya in 2019.

Right fit; right fit and right fit
Through our Centres of Excellence for talent acquisition the focus has moved from a standard job description to a more achievement-oriented business goals description which the position will be expected to achieve. The introduction of our talent centre has not only created a database of current and future talent but produced valuable talent analytics for informed decision making. The talent centre also enables us to position our roles to the local talent and where feasible include them in the workforce. For including local talent in the workforce, especially in GCC nations in certain specific situations, we have altered the job descriptions to adapt to the strengths of the individual to enable them to leverage their talent. We actively participate in Industry events to keep abreast with localisation trends and showcase RHG offerings to attract local Talent.

Big data or small data but have data
Our entire organisation is now enabled with a global HRIS to digitally manage talent data like performance management, succession plans, development plans, KPIs and more. The beauty of the system is its integration with other HR systems such as talent centre and the L&D platforms. Our talent centre now gives us the capability to do target searches to attract local talent and offer roles based on the job fit per the localisation drives in GCC countries. This capability will be game changer for the organisation enabling the right talent metrics for wise decision making. 

Culture is the catalyst for leadership impact
Culture is probably more lived than taught. The entire organisation is now modelled on a bedrock of seven cultural beliefs, which are:

  • We deliver memorable moments every day, everywhere, every time. 
  • We enjoy serving with our ‘Yes I Can’ spirit.  
  • We grow talent, talent grows us.  
  • We are many minds, with one mindset. 
  • We value open and direct interactions to build trust. 
  • We believe anything is possible. 
  • We have fun in all that we do.  

Each belief is reinforced with practical day to day work examples of demonstrating and living the belief which engages talent across all levels and functions. These beliefs are the cornerstone of everything we do in RHG and we take every opportunity to celebrate the beliefs thereby further leveraging their impact. We recently aligned our employee recognition strategy with the beliefs making it more business focused, changing –“Dear Harpreet Well Done” to “ Dear Harpreet Your behaviour/skill led to a specific business impact which is………”.

Performance is now a common language
Through our talent and leadership foundations we now have a common business language of how performance is measured across the organisation. This common parlance has led us to achieve greater talent mobility, quick decision making on successions, selection of key roles and further targeting our L&D efforts to develop the competencies for each foundation.

As a HR leader of the Area-Middle East and Africa it is extremely important for me to get out of the cave (corporate) and relate and learn from the business units (hotels). Hotels is where the rubber hits the road and I continuously engage with the hotels virtually or in person with a listening mindset to fine tune the strategy or create tools and resources for hotel teams to positively impact our owners, guests and talent as we confidently march to achieve our global vision of becoming the one of the top three companies for guests, owners and talent.

About the author
Harpreet Singh Chhatwal is the Radisson Hotel Group (RHG) area senior director, human resources, Middle East & Africa. In his role Harpreet oversees all aspects of Talent for 100 Hotels in Operation and Development and the Radisson Hotel Group offices in Dubai, UAE and Cape Town, South Africa. Harpreet has worked across India, Singapore and now in Dubai.

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