People are the most important part of the hospitality business. In fact, people are the most important part of almost ANY business – but I still see many companies making some critical errors when it comes to human resources. I know I am inviting some controversy here, but see if you agree with me at least in part.

What is the point of Human Resources? What is its purpose? Everyone already knows the answer to this. The purpose of HR is to find, train, care for, and develop your human capital. To enable them to reach their potential and perhaps even surpass their own expectations of themselves.

But why are so many companies plagued with HR problems? In my experience, it is because of poor structuring of the function to begin with. While the objective of HR is to find, train, care for, and develop human capital, the path to getting there includes a whole lot of administration, and herein lies the problem.

Many HR objectives and duties are difficult to quantify and even harder to measure, so when an HR department is structed in a manner that mixes the qualitative and quantitative aspects in an ineffective way, the results are not only poor, but predictably poor. There is a famous saying, “what gets measured gets done”, which some attribute to Rheticus going back all the way to the sixteenth century, and is usually considered a call to positive action. However, if one has two tasks and limited resources, and one of those tasks can be measured while the other cannot, those resources will usually be allocated to the measurable task, even if the other task is actually the more important of the two.

Now imagine what happens when HR should be carefully selecting the best candidate for a position, but also has a stack of forms on their desks waiting to be filled in and filed. Unfortunately, the recruitment task falls by the wayside. While there are many systems that do try to quantify those more complex and valuable HR tasks, measuring those critical functions remain much more challenging than quantifying the simple admin components of the job.

The solution? It is imperative to take decisive steps to divide HR into departments which are fit for purpose. First of all, the Head of Recruitment needs to report directly to the person in charge, be that the GM, MD or CEO. Trim and eliminate the admin side of each task to ensure that the only goal in mind is to secure the best of the best. This mindset needs to be long term – HR must harvest talent, not find it like buried treasure. The succession plans must be a top priority and pored over like a battle plan in war. The devil is in the details. The Learning and Growth function should also be separated out, as is admittedly often the case already, but without the need to report to an HR line. It may be more wisely allocated to the operations structure, where results are measured in daily property metrics. Finally, let administration be handled by administrators – some people are great at dotting i’s and crossing t’s, so let them at it.

A great team is the key to success. It’s therefore more than worth the time and effort to create a structure that encourages this kind of success from the very beginning.