Case Study: Management Matters
Media One Hotel's 12 week employee empowerment course
Hotelier finds out more about Media One Dubai Hotel’s recent 12-week training course to empower members of the middle management team and encourage more inter-department communication
It’s not often that companies invest in extensive training programmes for employees in a middle management position. However, as the people between department heads and subordinates within their teams, mid-level managers form an important link between the individual departmental objectives set out by the heads and ensuring the team follows through.
A recent 12-week training programme held at the independently-operated Media One Hotel in Dubai focused on developing the management and leadership skills of these key members of staff.
Rational & Objective
The Media One Journey of Development is part of an overall development programme the hotel introduced in January 2013.
According to general manager Mark Lee, the common practice is for people to receive less training as they move up the corporate ladder. However, he sees it as his job to ensure the personal and professional growth of his team while they are employed with Media One, which is why he developed the training course in partnership with the hotel’s HR manager Karim Maataoui, and Lynne Bellinger, managing director UAE at Purple Cubed.
“I wanted to make sure that we are giving the team a good overview of operations at the hotel and to give them an insight into how other areas work so that they have a better all round knowledge of what's going on,” explains Lee.
Concept & Investment
The Media One Journey of Development was a 12-week course for managers from various departments in the hotel. The training was designed to offer an overview of how Media One operates, combined with training sessions to enhance the enthusiasts’ (as staff are referred to) communication, leadership and time management skills.
Furthermore, the training also aimed to break down barriers in communication between different departments and encourage department heads to work together.
“If they are dealing with daily challenges with their teams and their departments, or other teams and departments in a more effective way, it is going to produce better results, whether it’s in terms of customer service or financial results,” says Lee.
In addition to the cost of hiring Purple Cubed as a training partner, Lee points out the indirect cost of the programme, saying: “There was an indirect cost of people’s time every week because we take them out of the workplace for doing the training and that time obviously translates into money.”
Over the 12 weeks of the course, trainings alternated between presentations and information on Media One, targeting different departments and issues, and leadership and management training by Purple Cubed the next week.
“All of the course content about Media One we did in-house, so it was important that the Journey of Development had an element of external training as well because that again brings in another dimension,” explains Lee.
One of the key techniques the team was taught to implement as part of a behavioural study was Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI), which associates different colours with individual characteristics and personality traits, and suggests techniques to respond to people based on the colour they are determined to be.
Results to Date
Since the completion of the course in June, the attendees have been working with their department heads to determine what practices need to change within each department in order to improve productivity, while simultaneously ensuring more communication between departments.
“The department heads are now sitting down with attendees and asking: what did you get out of the course, what are you going to put into action, what are you going to do differently and how are you going to implement what you learned on the course,” explains Lee.
The plans laid out by attendees will then be reviewed by Lee and his team. Based on the feedback received from the attendees, Media One has also scheduled a second training course for staff.
“It’s been a really positive exercise to do, and we are doing another one in September, where we will move down to the next level. We will choose assistant department heads and supervisors to go on the course because this is a course that is very flexible and we can pitch it for different levels depending on who we are talking to,” he explains.
Outlet manager, Cafe M, Media One Hotel
“One of the key things we learned during the course is how to recognise individuals using SDI – how to recognise each of our enthusiasts, how we deal with them, and that helped us in terms of guests as well,” says Pires, who is in charge of Media One’s all day restaurant, Cafe M.
“Second is encouraging the individuals that work with us, knowing their calibre, giving them more tasks, checking how well they perform, ” he adds.
Delegation was one of the key management lessons Pires has adopted at the outlet, which he believes has boosted staff morale. “Initially, we felt like we had to do everything ourselves and this did not fully exploit the potential of the enthusiasts. So we have started delegating responsibilities and guiding the team when required and measuring the results.
Giving them the liberty to do more than what the guest expects makes them feel more empowered and more trusted and has resulted in more personalised service,” he says.
The new policies seem to have already made a difference at the restaurant. “A couple of weeks ago, Cafe M achieved a 100% result in a mystery shopper’s report, which I believe is a direct result of delegating more responsibility to the team,” states Pires.
Director of sales, Media One Hotel
“For me, the training was more about understanding the individuality of each personality of the team members and how we can maximise on what they can bring to the table in terms of their strengths and their weaknesses.
We've had a change in management, so putting in place what we learned from this training was key for all of us,” says Sequeira, who attended the training with two other members of the sales team.
“Another thing I took away was how to have the difficult conversations that I think I face quite a bit in my role, and that was part of the SDI training. Conversations where you have to pinpoint things that could be done better, putting a structure in place, building those relationships, building that trust is something that SDI really helps with,” she says.
As part of a newly restructured team, Sequeira is now busy assigning roles based on people’s strengths. “Each person has a different role to play, each person has a wider range of responsibility.
We have been able to structure it a bit more, giving a bit more meaning to each person’s role. It’s a daily process and there’s a step by step procedure to putting a new structure in place as each of us move into new roles within our individual teams,” Sequeira says.
Front office manager, Media One Hotel
Connecting with his colleagues from other departments is one of the greatest benefits of the training, believes Hashem. “The people in different teams are closer together. Before implementing what we learned in our teams and making our teams stronger, we realised we can work well together and nothing can break us,” he claims.
For Hashem and the assistant front office manager who attended the training with him, more effective delegation of tasks has changed the way the team performs.
“Once we started the training, we listed our team on a piece of paper and looked at each person and asked what their character was like in order to deal with them in the right way. Once we did this, we saw big changes,” he says.
“Even though occupancy is not high since the summer started, our hotel was number one as part of TSA’s upselling programme in June. There are 24 hotels in this program but we were chosen as the best, and it all comes down to the effort made by the team,” explains Hashem.
“When you delegate to a fellow enthusiast, they feel more valued, so aside from giving myself a chance to work on different things, it’s really helping the team,” he observes.