Water cooler chat with Janet Roberts, Chief People & Culture Officer

Water cooler chat with Janet Roberts, Chief People & Culture Officer

Describe your role in one sentence We believe the best way to take care of our guests and exceed our partner expectations is to look after our Cycadettes, so my job is keep our people-focused approach at the heart of the business.

What are the biggest challenges as Cycas grows? Cycas is expanding fast and we plan to triple our portfolio over the coming years. We know that our award-winning performance culture is one of the key differentiators that makes our management style attractive to owners, so it’s vital we continue to find the right talent to keep delivering our trademark positively outrageous service everywhere we operate.

What are you most proud of after over a decade with Cycas? From when I first started helping Cycas build its distinctive culture over a decade ago to the years I spent as a GM in our first property, we’ve always been clear that we wanted to make our hotels the best places to work, as well as stay. Winning the ‘Best Employer Award’ (Cateys 2018) was therefore a massive moment for us. The combination of positive feedback from our Cycadettes coupled with our high retention rates showed that our approach to employee engagement was the right one and certainly gave me and the team lots to smile about.

What industry trends excite you most? Good hospitality relies on a healthy, can-do attitude and it’s great that more emphasis is being placed across the industry on the importance of mental as well as physical wellbeing rather than purely focusing on compensation and benefits. At Cycas we consider ourselves a family, and we’ve certainly seen how our quarterly Wellbeing Weeks and our internal training with Samaritans has helped support our teams, manage energy levels and inspire performance at every level.

What are the misconceptions about the role of culture and HR in a business? It’s encouraging that the more enlightened businesses have woken up to the fact that human resources is no more about policing your employees these days than it is about providing a shoulder to cry on. Our senior team has always championed our culture and recognised it as an integral part of Cycas’s success story. After all, the core values of working as a team to take having fun seriously, yet making working hard to get great results look fun, is just as important in our finance and commercial teams as it is in our properties.

The Fun Five

What did you want to be when you were growing up? I’ve actually wanted to work in hospitality for as long a I can remember! When I was 13 I started working in a local restaurant doing silver service, and I fell in love with the camaraderie and team spirit. Family members and colleagues tried to put me off, warning me about the long hours, but I was adamant that this was the industry for me and that I wanted to be a GM. I’ve made some amazing friends in this industry, and even met my husband through it.

What inspires you? When I first read the Chimp Paradox book by Professor Steve Peters something really clicked in my understanding of how people work, and how to help them get the best out of themselves at work. I found the idea that your inner chimp could be your worst enemy or your best friend was hugely powerful – it really highlighted how everyone struggles with our minds and how important it is to create a supportive business culture that helps people build resilience.

Where would we find you at the weekend? I’m a country girl at heart, so I try to spend as much time as possible outdoors. I’m very lucky to live near the Welsh and Shropshire hills, so at the weekends I like nothing more than heading off for a long, bracing walk with my dog and husband, perhaps stopping at a cosy pub along the way.

What’s a recent Cycas highlight? It’s always been our dream to develop a bespoke Cycas training programme to further develop our ‘A Players’ once we were in a strong position of growth. Last year this dream became reality as we launched our new year-long Cyfari Leadership Development Programme and it was wonderful to see all 10 Cycadettes graduate recently. Not only were all the modules internally delivered by our core leadership team, but the mentoring programme proved as rewarding for the senior leaders involved as the mentees. Whilst it was great to hear many of our senior team say it helped develop their management skills, it also helped remind them why they first fell in love with the hotel business.

What would the industry be most surprised to discover about you? Whilst I never learned to play an instrument, I’m an enormous fan of live music. Every year I probably go to at least 20 concerts and five festivals and it’s a fantastic way to bring the inner child back. From camping to day festivals, and from 80s’ music to jazz, my tastes are pretty wide-ranging and I always get home re-energised.

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