Creating a Learning Culture in a Hospitality World

By Stacey Oliver-Knappe Owner, The Customer Service Gurus | March 11, 2018

If culture defines the proper way to behave within an organization in my world of Human Resources Development, this can be taken a step further.  I can detect if organizations have positive or punitive learning cultures based on, to SHRM's point, how most people behave in regards to training. Improving operational effectiveness through training is critical to overall financial success. 

Basic Learning and Development Definitions

Before we go further, these are the definitions I will use in this article. 

  • Training - This is any activity that is to change employee behavior or improve their skills.  This activity can be an instructor led event in a classroom; it can be an e-learning module; it can be a short video; it can be written communication.   The methods and tools currently available to support employee learning is astounding.  
  • Employee - To keep this simple, for any person in the organization, I will use this broad term.  Every employee, from the CEO to the front line operations, can benefit from some type of development.
  • Learning Culture - A learning culture behaves in these ways:  it proactively analyzes data to discover organizational and employee improvement opportunities, and implements interventions to make the desired change occur.  Emotionally, when new training is announced, employees are excited and embrace the idea of learning to improve.  Leaders see training as a supportive tool in their toolbox of success, and make it a priority to schedule.
  • Personal Development Learning - is also championed by leaders because they care about their employee's future success.

The Cost of a Poor Learning Culture  

A poor learning culture is where training is squeezed in to daily operations, with minimum attention to the learning experience.   Enough is done to maintain compliance, as in boxes get checked off for completion. However, not enough is done for employees to feel like the company cares about their development, personal or professional.  There is little goal setting, and even less support to help employees reach company or personal goals.   Managers and employees use any slight excuse to not attend training.  When attending training, participation is apathetic.  

Smart leaders must stop this culture.  It is negatively affecting your business.  Engagement suffers; employee turnover is higher.  Employees make mistakes that could cause corporate liability.  Nothing saddens me more than when a company is sued for an issue that could have solved with effective training.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.