We have all heard the human resource jargon of modern management before. Phrases such as 'continuous improvement', 'quality focus' and 'leadership-driven' are a few examples. A closer look at some of the themes embedded in these concepts will reveal nuggets of practical wisdom that can help improve all our places of work. ISO9001 basically offers an orderly approach to a set of duties, or what the US Army would call 'standard operating procedures'. In relation to human resources, this means setting out step-by-step instructions that guide administrators in duties that affect hiring, training and employee-retention programmes. It is not as complicated as it sounds, says Alice Yeung Chui-chui, director of human resources at the Grand Stanford Inter-Continental. She says the system is like a rule book with basic principles. 'The ISO9001 system provides a very good structure for handling all human resource functions and related activities,' Ms Yeung says. One aim of the management system is to help organisations determine criteria for staff. In the hotel business, staff requirements vary with rank, but basically involve some measure of education, language skills, service attitude and a disposition suited for dealing with the public. Clearly defined procedures help create a human resource system that is less likely to hire the wrong people, she says. 'For each of the positions, we must have a matching process in place to make sure we hire the right person for the job,' Ms Yeung says. 'All our human resource activities are being clearly documented, and all HR staff are being trained in these activities so they know what to do and what the standards are,' she says. 'It's a very good management review process that allows us to continuously look at what we are doing, and find ways to improve ourselves.'