Whose job is PEOPLE?

Titles are a funny thing.

I recognize the need to categorize the  work people do, but I question whether in today’s business environment they are accurate.

Prior to starting Impact People Practices,  I was hired to lead the People side of a luxury hotel management company. The owners believed if we could attract and retain the best in the industry we would create a winning culture .. not only as employers, but for guests as well. So when they hired me, they said I could pick the title I wanted.

I really struggled because none of the traditional HR titles suited what I envisionned for the organization

I knew whatever it was going to be, it was not going to be Director of Human Resources. I settled on Director of Culture & People Development, with the PROMISE from both owners that we would build a company where HR did not sit with one person (me) as a responsibility, but was something that every level of leader internalized.

That was a fundamental shift from most hotels, which are quite traditional in their hierarchy. By making that mental paradigm shift, we set about building our teams: Our General Managers, Directors , team leads…  in every case, we chose leaders who showed operational expertise, not the other way around.

Of course HR in our company both at the corporate level and at the property level set some structure and best practices in place, but every single one of our HR people was also an operator.

  1. We created a position of “Guest and Employee Experience Manager” where that person worked essentially IN the business and ON it
  2. We involved our General Managers and Director of Sales, Marketing, Operations.. in our design and structure of programs… and then coached them to deliver and execute.
  3. We made a significant investment to bring in business coaches to help us create a common language of coaching, curiosity, feedback and identifying the brilliance that lies in every employee.

And we didn’t just do that with HR.

We showed our supervisors and team leads how to read profit and loss statements and brought managers of departments together to look at business results and decide as a group what areas needed attention, or how to generate new revenue, or improve a process.

The discussions I loved most were the ones where a sales manager would be sitting with the Food and Beverage manager and together with the HR manager figuring out how they were going to increase the average cheque of our F&B patrons.

In too many organizations, “culture” and “people” sits squarely in a department called Human Resources, or the People department. When I think of HR of the Future I think of some incredibly talented leaders who are facilitators of culture, not keepers of the culture.

Just like every single one of us in a company is a sales person for that company, is a customer service ambassador, we are ALL responsable for culture and the health of our employee experience.

So call me on it if you will… but I challenge all HR professionals out there to rethink the role of “Human Resources” in the business world.  With social media and technology and younger employees coming into the workforce, we need to give EVERY leader in our organization the responsibility and accountability to play an important role in attracting and retaining our talent.