Training Top 125 Best Practice: General Manager Onboarding at La Quinta Inns & Suites
To the ensure success of its three strategic priorities of “Driving Consistency in Product,” “Driving Consistency in Experience,” and “Driving Engagement with Our Brand,” La Quinta Inns & Suites places specific emphasis on the orientation and job training for hotel general managers (GMs), as leadership stability and effectiveness in this role impacts the entire hotel.
During their first two weeks on the job, new general managers are partnered with a field training manager, who conducts in-person facilitated training at a certified training hotel. During this period, the new manager is immersed in the tasks and philosophies requried to succesfully run the hotel. Topics cover managing people, managing product, and driving profit.
During onboarding, general managers receive a personalized development report, which is an output of La Quinta’s personality assessment and is linked to position competencies. The report highlights strengths and development opportunities for the GM, along with resources and approaches that can be employed to close competency gaps. The GM’s hiring manager also receives the development report to better to leverage individual strengths and develop opportunity areas.
The field training managers who facilitate the training are all former general managers themselves, so they can readily explain the reason behind the actions they are training. This lends instant credibility, which is important during the next phase: mentorship.
At the conclusion of the two-week training, the field training manager transitions to a mentor and conducts regularly scheduled monthly touchpoint calls for six months. Calls are focused on reinforcing learning objectives from initial training and supplementing with additional material relevant to new challenges or evolving needs. Ad-hoc calls also are used as needed. The mentorship program is especially significant for new GMs who came to La Quinta from outside the hotel industry.
The final phase of the program occurs after the new general manager has been at his or her hotel for 90 to 120 days. INNtegration is an instructor-led training session held at La Quinta’s corporate office. This session is devoted to gaining deeper insights into specialized areas from the corporate teams who support the hotels. A host general manager also serves as a facilitator who provides operational expertise and makes operational connections for the GM participants between the information shared by corporate instructors and how to apply the learnings at the property level.
An average of 100 general manager trainees go through the program each year. Results of the 2016 employee engagement survey revealed that 86 percent of newly hired GMs agreed that La Quinta provides training so they can do their job well. Retention rates also have been on the rise with a year-over-year increase of +120bps (basis points) seen in general manager retention.