For some hourly employees, becoming a supervisor or manager is an unachievable goal, or at least unlikely, but not for those who work at White Lodging Services.
This hotel management company based in Merrillville, Ind., which includes Marriott Hotels, begins serious training at the entry-level positions—where, oftentimes, employees feel they're left out of the development process.
Nearly five years ago, White Lodging Services created the Leadership Development Series (lds), a program that prepares hourly employees to become supervisors and even managers. Employees are trained on topics ranging from soft skills to technical skills.
"We implemented lds because the company set a competitive goal for itself," says Mary Jo Dolasinski, corporate director of training and career development. "White Lodging wanted 75 percent of its promotable positions to be filled by people from within the company."
General managers and content experts from the company's various hotels brainstormed and created the lds curriculum. Now, for two hours each week for 22 weeks, employees attend a training module facilitated by a general manager. The module includes group discussions, experiential training and sometimes pre- or post-work on a new topic. No module begins, however, without a quiz on the previous week's topic.
In a variety of ways, the lds has been a success. Last year the company achieved 69 percent of promotions from within, and 40 percent of those promotions were hourly jobs turned into salaried positions. "The retention factor goes up exponentially," says Dolasinski, "and we have more stability and less turnover." Even if employees are not promoted immediately, she says, the training they receive through the lds is applicable to their lives and current positions.
This month, White Lodging will introduce its Leadership Development Series II, says Dolasinski. This 12-module series is designed to target potential managers.
White Lodging has also created career maps to complement the lds curriculum. "The maps are flow charts of the training sequence that an hourly associate could take in progression," says Dolasinski. Beginning this fall, White Lodging plans to create career portfolios that will allow each person to create an individual career track.
In further developing both the lds and the career maps, Dolasinski says White Lodging hopes its leadership training provides employees with the perfect tools and resources. The company believes in promoting employee growth and development, she says, and the assortment of leadership development tools "has solidified it." —H.J.