Maintaining inimitable advantage through the people factor

The client
Our client on this assignment was a leading hotel group with international hotel operations spanning over twenty-four niche-market properties.  The Group has recorded steady growth for over forty years, spurred by its consistency of brand standards, which are the means by which it has been able to maintain unique high product and service standards across all its properties.
This client is positioned as the top quality destination for food, beverage and hotel accommodation in all its markets and the client's brand has come to be associated with excellence in the hospitality industry.  Service quality is the client's leading competitive advantage, and is supported by a deep commitment to staff training and development.
Apart from a keen dedication to continuous operations training, this client also depends on a steady commitment to the development of management competencies across its business units to maintain its “Leading Hotels of the World” brand standards, and to distinguish itself as a niche employer in the industry.
Client requirements
The client was looking to strengthen their middle to senior management competencies  in four ways:
1.  By establishing a process through which hotel management graduates from hotel schools would be integrated into the business in order that they quickly adapt to the group’s performance requirements in various areas, operating standards, culture
2.  By providing newly recruited hotel school graduate managers practical, work-based opportunities to grow and mature into the full management responsibilities they would be taking up in the company
3.  By establishing a process through which supervisors and junior managers that may not have received formal hotel management training, but who had accumulated many years of experience in hotel operations could advance their careers in hospitality to management levels
4.  By establishing a process through which the client would open up the management of its hotel operations to a growing number of high-performing graduate recruits, but who were not hoteliers by training.
Our approach
We worked with the client to develop a comprehensive Graduate Development Programme (GDP), to which the client was able to admit selected persons as newly recruited hotel school graduates, as experienced hotel employees but who may not have had any hotel training; as non-hotel graduate trainees that wanted to join careers in hotel management.
The programme was built around three pillars of graduate development: professional development; business improvement; and personal development.  Learning and development activities on the programme required the graduate trainees to rotate around various business units, with specific learning objectives to be achieved in each planned area.
Two particularly important elements of this programme were the training of senior management on how to support graduate development programmes within the company, and the structured work-based projects that the graduate trainees were required to undertake as part of their GDP.  These work-based projects required the persons on the programme to  identify, and fully plan for, business improvement proposals in the specific areas they would have been working in the course of their management development programme.
Significant outcomes
On average, every two years the client enrolls between six to ten graduate trainees on this programme.  The programme has been an enormous success in the business and become a vital component of staff development.
The client has further diversified enrolment on the GDP across the countries that the client is present, with the programme evolving into a comprehensive, multi-cultural programme through which the client is able to obtain standardised and consistent development of graduate trainees and from which the business continues to earn well-deserved benefits. 

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