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The world’s biggest training programme? A Training Manager’s experience


Jyoti Chawla, Training Manager at the InterContinental hotel, London, gives her personal account of what happened when she took part in a massive change programme as part of a major exercise to reshape the InterContinental brand.

The programme trained more than 40,000 staff in 140 hotels across 65 countries, bringing together training, marketing, regional operations, individual hotels and external consultants together.

With invitation in hand to Barcelona (April 2002) and a short brief, it felt like a secret mission assignment! But within a few hours of touchdown, we were all in awe of this huge responsibility that lay on our shoulders - to train simultaneously 40,000 InterContinental staff across 65 countries world-wide. This has never been achieved before on such a scale with such tight deadlines.

We left daunted, excited, but reassured that we were all in the same boat. The next few days where a continuous hotline of phone calls and emails messages to our counterparts across the world exchanging ideas, training notes and challenges.

Back at the hotel, training started with a vengeance, first with an experienced and opinionated group of Executive Managers. However, with the quality and quantity of information given, I felt armed to take on any questions thrown at me. Luckily I had the support and involvement of Peter Beckwith, the General Manager. He attended every wrap up session with over 200 permanent and casual staff over the 3-week period. Having trained 30 sessions of between 10-30 employees on the 2 different programmes, I needed to keep up the momentum, so by making subtle changes like changing the venue, layout of the room and the words used, I maintained my composure and energy levels.

The learning map was by far the best training tool I have ever used. It encouraged interaction from the whole team and for those for whom English is not their first language the pictorials where able to guide them through the exercise with ease. An internal newsletter between all trainers was great to keep us informed, offer handy tips or simply to find out how the other hotels were doing. There was healthy competition amongst hotels, keen to declare first in completing “We Know What It Takes” training.

For me personally, it has helped me improve my facilitation skills and ensured I demonstrated drive for results in accomplishing our global goal. It is also refreshing to see the impact it has had on our staff which is measured through our daily report on unprompted service and empowerment. I am proud to have been involved in reshaping the world of InterContinental.

If you are a Training Manager and have been involved in a training programme or initiative which was particularly significant for you and your organisation, do let us know.


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