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TRUNK(HOTEL) has no manual. The independent actions and free ideas of the staff who work here make this hotel truly unique. So, how can TRUNK(HOTEL) staff work flexibly and achieve personal growth? TRUNK President Yoshitaka Nojiri, and HR Director Yasuhide Ichikawa, who was involved in creating the concept of TRUNK (HOTEL) before its opening, talk about their recruitment and human resource development.
One of TRUNK(HOTEL)’s unique strategies is its recruitment process. We have great respect for diversity—that is to respect various capabilities. In the hospitality industry in Japan, the manual is generally the most important, and businesses usually need a person with high average abilities to follow its rules. Therefore, average all-rounders tend to be hired instead of someone with an outstanding ability.
On the other hand, TRUNK puts emphasis on individuality. Candidates with poor abilities in specific areas can be hired as long as they show outstanding special abilities with more than average competencies on the whole. One absolute criterion we rely on is whether the person shares our values. We hire people with what we call core values: originality, innovation, sincerity, and contribution.
We understand that individual job-related abilities and skills vary. Even if they cannot do everything at an average level, we will turn a blind eye to certain shortcomings or weaknesses as long as they share our values. That way of thinking is truly unique to TRUNK.
If a workplace is based on manuals, employees’ abilities and even appearance should be equalized. But in a workplace without a manual, the diversity of employees will lead to a wider range of flexible expressions and behavior as well as mutual complement.
At TRUNK, dyed hair, and even visible tattoos are acceptable. By gathering up unique people with rare abilities, we are able to show our unique brilliance. This is the strength of TRUNK(HOTEL) and an important factor to realize a service that we only can provide.
Staff members working at TRUNK(HOTEL) have strong individuality. So, what are the actual recruitment process and staff capacity development process like? Ichikawa explains as follows:
As Nojiri said, our four core values—originality, innovation, sincerity, and contribution—embody the values upheld by TRUNK(HOTEL). These values also represent our recruitment criteria. If the core values of each staff member can be quantified, such figures may vary from person to person. Different people should have different fortes and shortcomings. But anyway, our recruitment process is based on the philosophy that all our employees must share the same core values.
It is no doubt strategically crucial to stick to our philosophy, which consists of visions, missions, and the four core values. Added to these are “ownership,” which aims to exert members’ spontaneity and independence, and “creativity” that creates something from scratch, or fosters innovation. We uphold these two concepts as “actions.” We are making various efforts to spread these factors.
One of these efforts is an event called “Human Resources Caravan.” For example, we ask our staff members about the reason why we have no standards or manuals. After they answer such questions, we then explain to them that it is because we expect them to show ownership, or that we should need creativity, instead of doing what is already there, to develop a new market. In this way, we create an opportunity for everyone to think about the two actions. We further encourage them to have time to think about these actions when the entire team meets up. As Nojiri repeatedly tells the credo “The company belongs to the staff, and must be built by them.” to the staff members, we make conscious efforts to instill our values to foster the company climate little by little.
As we say that the company belongs to the staff, we need a place where they can freely express their opinions. So, we have set up “Everyone’s company project,” where any staff members can join, share and discuss the personnel system, what kind of company they want to build up, and what they should do to make that ideal company.We use LINE WORKS, a convenient communication tool that allows even new employees to directly express their opinions to the president to create a situation where all staff members including part-timers are connected.
There are no rules about how they should use LINE WORKS. Nojiri sends messages to the staff in the form of President’s diary, or staff members who happen to find issues in the hotel send messages like “this area is dirty,” or “this is broken.” When such reports are raised, some members in other departments will reply that they will take care of it, and the issues will be quickly settled.
When the floral team responsible for decorating the lounge and restaurants sends information about “today’s flowers” with photos and stories behind them, other staff members are able to quickly answer customers’ questions. Even Nojiri actively and positively responds to these posts. In addition to sharing business information, staff members freely utilize the platform for a wide variety of purposes. LINE WORKS is now an effective place to develop and exercise their ownership and creativity.
Honestly, from the HR standpoint, I have worries about not having company standards or rules. Without binding rules, it is difficult to reprimand people unless in extreme circumstances.
For example, we distribute uniforms, but we do not require our staff members to wear the uniforms.
Instead, we tell them that they may wear their own decent clothes.However, it is up to them if their clothes are decent or not, so there is a possible risk that our company images and manners may be compromised. However, our policy does not attach importance to the process as long as they adequately play their role and achieve the required objectives. So, we are determined to keep this policy in the future.
Perhaps it’s possible just because we are a relatively small company with about 100 people, and when the number of staff members increases in the future, not having rules may be more difficult. I feel we are following a difficult path, but when each of our 100 staff members grows to embody our TRUNK DNA and positively influence our future newcomers, our policies should be sustainable.
We are a relatively new hotel that just opened in May 2017, so it will take another few years before we can see if our personnel strategy has been right. But I am convinced that our personnel strategy is on the right track at least now, since our guests say, “I can see people working in TRUNK(HOTEL) really enjoy the work.”
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TRUNK is always with Tokyo.
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TRUNK President Yoshitaka Nojiri talks about the quintessence of the "hotel," which is full of various lines of business. This time we will discuss the consideration and practice of one of the most important aspects of TRUNK which it emphasizes over everything―creativity.
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At TRUNK(HOTEL), we do not have work manuals, and our staff members themselves decide how to work based on our four core values: originality, innovation, contribution, and sincerity. Our way of working is only made possible because we are a group where each individual has a sense of ownership. General Manager Hisao Koga, Wedding Division Manager Sachiko Hayafune, and Accommodations Division Manager Daichi Ogihara will discuss these efforts and achievements.
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Design Hotels, an international hotel community consisting of only high-quality, sophisticated, independent hotels in 50 countries around the world.
Along with Vice President of Design Hotels Asia-Pacific Division, Mr. Jinou Park serving as facilitator, and Singapore’s highly talented hotelier, Mr. Lou Lik Peng, “A discussion by Asia’s leading hoteliers.” In Part 2, they will underscore important aspects of creating a unique hotel that is strongly rooted in its surrounding area.
A discussion by Asia’s leading hoteliers 【Part 1】What is the driving passion behind their hotel development?
Design Hotels is an international hotel community consisting of only high-quality, sophisticated, independent hotels in 50 countries around the world. Design Hotels sets high eligibility requirements for participation in terms of design and stories, and it currently has three partners in Japan. Amongst them, the only hotel in Tokyo is TRUNK(HOTEL).
When Nojiri visited Singapore, he successfully had a talk with Mr. Lou Lik Peng, Singapore’s highly talented hotelier who was involved in creating The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney and Town Hall Hotel & Apartments in London, both of which are also Design Hotels members. In Part 1 of this conversation, Mr. Jinou Park, Vice President of the Asia-Pacific Division of Design Hotels, also joined as facilitator as they talked about their driving passion behind their hotel development.