An Interview with Nilesh Mitra, Senior Director, Human Resources, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.
In a candid chat with Franchise India, Nilesh Mitra talks about the role of a manager, the hiring policy and employee and employer relation in the hospitality business.
What is the hiring policy at Carlson Rezidor?
As all employers quickly learn, there’s a world of difference between an employee who is correctly matched to their job and their organisation and the one who is not. At Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, we have a perfectly niched and the precise HR Strategy - catch me, grow me and keep me.
Catch me is about attracting the talent; keep me is what we do from an initiative perspective internally to retain the talent, and; grow me is about developing talent to meet the organisational and employee’s goal. We identify talent with ‘right attitude’ and have in them what we think of as, the ‘hospitality gene’
What are the best practices to hire for attitude and then aptitude of an employee?
The HR recruitment landscape is changing. Typical selection processes like qualification and genuine experience is no longer enough; having the right attitude is. It is important for a person to have skills training and experience but we have always been a huge believer in putting attitude over aptitude. You can train someone and give them the tools, but you cannot give them the right attitude. For me it’s about building team for the attitude. Hire the people who want to ‘make a mark’, are guest oriented, understand the guest point of view, anticipates the guest needs and reaches out to deliver those needs as a quick learner.
How can a chef or restaurateur bond for better user experience?
For a chef, a restaurateur or anybody in the business of providing service, it is vital to create memorable guest experiences which are worthy of being remembered by guests. Every hospitality institution has their own way of empowering their employees to create the ‘memorable experience’ for their guests. These expectations can range widely from encouraging employees to memorise a guests name or dazzling the guest with some unique personalised touches. The one thing that can make your guests experience different than all the others ‘Their personal touch’.
It is important to empower the employees the ability to let their own personality and styles shine through (strictly, in a professional manner, of course). It is to encourage the employees to find creative and unique ways of letting them be themselves while following the guidelines. That a job as small as being a server can have quite a bigger impact. It is all about the attitude, personality and true hospitality that they bring to the table both literally and figuratively.
How can an inspired employee turn a customer into a fan?
In today’s competitive hospitality business, you don’t want customers. You want people who share the same passion as you do. Consistently delivering a valuable customer experience is important; it drives and sustains business growth. I think till the time an employee is not motivated enough, he/she will never be able to give a valuable customer experience to the guests. It is extremely important and can in fact be a great differentiator between various businesses. To maintain the enthusiasm employees bring to their jobs, management must understand the four sets of goals that the great majority of employees seek from their work and then satisfy those. The acronym race defines it. R for Respect: A for Achievement or a Purpose to achieve more; C for Camaraderie (extremely healthy relationships); and E for Equity.
To maintain an enthusiastic workforce, management must meet all four goals. Indeed, employees who work for companies where just one of these factors is missing are three times less enthusiastic than workers at companies where all elements are present.
One goal cannot be substituted for another. Improved recognition cannot replace better pay, money cannot substitute for taking pride in a job well done and pride alone will not pay the mortgage.
What is the role of a Manger in an organisation like yours?
Most companies have it all wrong. “They don't have to motivate their employees. They have to stop de-motivating them”. There are several ways that management unwittingly de-motivates employees and diminishes, if not outright destroys their enthusiasm. Many companies treat employees as disposable. At the first sign of business difficulty, employees—who are usually routinely referred to as "our greatest asset"—become expendable.
The role of a manager in our Organisation is to take ‘care’ which means:
C for coach: a manager needs to be a great coach of his team. Manager should Coach the employees for improvement.
A for achievement: A manager should inspire his team to achieve more with less. Every manager should be able to expressly state a strong purpose for his unit/fuction.
R for recognition: A manager should recognise his team and celebrate success. Receiving recognition for achievements is one of the most fundamental human needs. Rather than making employees complacent, recognition reinforces their accomplishments, thus ensuring there will be more of them.
E for expedite – A manager should be an expediter for his team. Incorporating a command-and-control style is a sure-fire path to de-motivation. Instead, redefine your primary role as serving as your employees' expediter. It is your job to facilitate getting their jobs done. Your reports are, in this sense, your ‘customers.’
Do you think that attrition is a challenge in India? What are you doing to minimise the attrition rates at Carlson Rezidor?
Fortunately at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, South Asia we do not face this as much as a problem what the others in our business do. Our talent focussed and the approach and strategy of ‘catch me, keep me & grow me’ encompasses all the various touch points which any employee experiences. A certain percentage of attrition is healthy too since it encourages fresh perspectives & innovative ideas. A study conducted by Aon Hewitt India Hotel Survey, stated that the attrition rate in India’s hotel industry is close to 35%; we faced only 18-19 percent. I think as a brand we are not among the crowds who are facing the greatest attrition rates. We believe and follow theperfect HR Mantra – enable, empower & engage.
Please explain about your role at the hotel. How has been the journey so far?
I head the Human Resources for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, South Asia. I am a business management graduate with over 20 years of experience in the hospitality sector. I was awarded the ‘HR Leader of the Year 2012’ by Hotelier India. I believe that ‘The purpose of life is a life of purpose’.
We are six Hotel brands: Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, Park Inn by Radisson and Hotel Missoni which is still not present in Asia Pacific.
The journey has been excellent. People Management, aka Human Resource Management, is a dynamic vocation. I feel that Human Resource Management is one such domain where the task of balancing work resources and company becomes an integral element in order to keep the operational efficiency at an optimum level. This vocation calls for a unique set of challenges. My job is indeed two fold; I see it as an art and science, with a focus on two major objectives:
· First, to identify and grow the talent and capabilities of our professionals so they deliver optimum performance.
· Second, to keep our staff engaged, motivated and ensure that we recognise their achievements and take ‘care’of them.
I am a firm believer that when you do both well, employees will perform better and in the end they are more likely to stay with the company.