Finding a model that fits

You would generally assume that service operations must concentrate on people in their learning and development strategies. Nothing wrong with that, but what if I argue that there may be situations when you may be better off concentrating more on your process?

Let’s consider hospitality for example. In an industry where there are properties of many different standards. These properties may be officially or unofficially star-graded anywhere from 1 to 7. In the case of Maldives, we all choose from the same labor pool. When the competition in the labor market heats up, smaller operators, independent properties find it hard to compete, attract and retain talent. When your turnover is over 200% in some frontline service departments, being people centric in training is like “foo neiy fayah fenfurun” (it’s a Dhivehi expression roughly translated as trying to fill a bottomless container). You train, they look for a better opportunity in one of the upscale properties and leave – you start all over again and the cycle continues.

In a situation like the above, there may be a better approach: to be more process centric. Instead if focusing on people, training or learning and development efforts must be aimed at consolidating and refining the processes. SOPs must be followed religiously and instead of concentrating on the soft skills of individuals, training must be aimed at making processes glitch-free and efficient. While soft skills and social skills can be reinforced better within diverse groups of people in a classroom through role play, process centric training will be more effective within the actual service scape, on the service floor.

It’s all about strategy, finding the strategic fit that’ll work for you given your strengths and weaknesses as an organisation. Even if you are an upscale property, being process centric might make more sense depending on your positioning. If you advertise your property as a once in lifetime adventure in a far off corner of the world that would soon disappear from the face of the earth, and if your strategy is to recover your investment in record time and make as much profit as possible while the forward momentum lasts; it might not make sense to spend thousands, if not millions, on trying to change the behaviour of your service staff. You would probably be better off concentrating on your processes and investing in physical resources to create a more vibrant atmosphere rather than on developing the soft skills of the service personnel.

Finding the right model is about understating your position in the market and formulating an HR strategy that complements your strengths and compensates for the weaknesses that you have. It is always good look elsewhere for industry best practices and benchmarking but this must be done keeping in mind that one size will not fit all.

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About Hassan Saeed

I am a lifelong learner. I learn every day and I learn from everybody I interact with - I live with this simple philosophy. My goal is to help spread knowledge and information that helps people get better every day. Learning should fit into everyone's daily routine. Learning should empower individuals to achieve more and drive them towards excellence and perfection.
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