Skift Take

Everyone agrees that service is key to the luxury experience. That means there's a great deal of pressure on hiring managers to find the right talent. They should be looking for certain key psychographic factors that have consistently proven to be strong indicators of employee success.

What should luxury brands be looking for when it comes to employee recruitment? Toss out the resumes. It’s all about the aptitude.

Okay, experience may still matter, but for Talent Plus, Inc., it’s more about identifying people’s talents, and developing and honing roles that fit those skills.

The Lincoln, Nebraska-based company calls itself a “talent assessment partner.” It helps companies analyze psychological attributes of potential employees through testing and interviews based on scientific methodology.  Among the firm’s luxury hospitality clients are Aman, Langham Hotels & Resorts, Capella Hotel Group and KSL Resorts.

According to Kimberly Rath, co-founder and chairman, the company’s launching pad into the luxury hospitality marketplace was a project with Ritz-Carlton back in 1989. According to Rath, Horst Schulze, who was president of Ritz-Carlton at the time, was focusing on finding people who intrinsically enjoyed serving others. As Ritz-Carlton grew from 21 hotels to 75, becoming an industry leader in employee training along the way, Talent Plus was its partner in the hiring process.

That said, Rath notes Talent Plus is neither a recruitment company, nor a staffing company. Rather, according to Brad Walton, client engagement lead for Talent Plus, it is, in large part, a “psychological research organization that develops proprietary tools that test for qualities that predict success.”

What are those qualities? According to Talent Plus Senior Management Consultant Mark Epp, they are:

  • Drives and Values—the internal motivation to develop and the inner principles that a person lives by
  • Work Style—how a person fulfill the job responsibilities. Are they focused? Are they perfectionists? What is their process?
  • People Acumen—how a person builds relationships with others and how  others perceive those relationships
  • Influencing Process—the ability to get people to do something or to work toward a common goal and
  • Thought Acumen—is the person curious? Does they want to learn? How innovative are they and can they apply knowledge and ideas to the workplace?

Walton says empirical studies of proven top performers in the hospitality space indicate that “statistically, these are the most important aptitudes that are predictive of success.” He notes that in nearly every case, these traits are innate and not trainable.

It may sound like emotional intelligence, and that’s certainly a component. But Epps notes the key is “finding individuals who have that service propensity to do things in an individualized way, depending upon each person’s unique needs.” In the luxury space, they need to have “an ability to deliver on the unexpressed needs of guests, and to get it right every time.”

That said, after being hired, employee development must continue to be a priority in order for employees to thrive. Rath says employees should be defined “based on what they do well rather than what they are poor at doing.”  According to Epps, “It’s important to monitor them and let them know what they do well and how those strengths align with the values of the hotel.” Walton adds companies need to regularly “make employees understand the Impact and significance that they have every day to that luxury experience.”

In addition to keeping motivation levels high, when companies continually stay involved in an employee’s progress, notes Epps, “it’s a template for the next levels of leadership–being able to reach internally to find leaders for the future.” It also helps dramatically, notes Rath, with employee retention, a factor that can add millions of dollars to a company’s bottom line on an annual basis.


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Tags: hospitality, hotels, luxury

Photo credit: Aman is one of Talent Plus's clients. The company is more of a psychological research organization rather than a traditional recruitment firm. Aman

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