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  • Szilvia Olah

We have "accidentally"​ built a learning culture

Two weeks ago, I looked around, and I thought to myself, "We did it! I don't know how exactly or when it happened, but we have built a learning culture!!"


I was soooooo proud of everyone in the hotel when I walked around on Thursday afternoon. No matter where I went, there was a learning activity happening. But not just learning for the sake of it. Not just a quick traditional one during the briefing that is most likely to be a refresher that everyone already knows and is bored of. No, I am talking about authentic learning!


Passing by the stewarding area, I noticed that the service team is in there, so I checked it out. The stewarding Supervisor was conducting training about breakages. I stood there and listened. He presented actual data and a business case for the reduction of breakages. He explained the current cost, why breakage happens, how it can be reduced, and how the cost impacts the colleagues. I was amazed by his structured and logical approach and how the team received it. There were real conversations, questions, and together they identified practices that are either the cause of the problem or the solution. When the training finished, I said to the Supervisor, "Well done. You executed it very well!" We continued talking, and I found out that nobody has asked him to do it; they just figured within the Stewarding team that it is time to address the issue since the cost has gone up.


Then, I went to a restaurant where cigar and whiskey training was taking place by an external company organized by the Beverage and Restaurant manager. These guys plan, organize and or facilitate weekly in-depth training for the F&B service teams with the aim of increased beverage revenue. They have implemented up-selling training (not program) that helps and motivates colleagues to sell more individually. Subsequently, I walked down to another restaurant where the Chef was conducting food training for the service team. They had the dish prepared to taste, which helped them describe it and build vocabulary to sell. The partnership between the culinary and service team was just beautiful to watch!!!


It is also essential to understand that colleagues in our hotel are not scared to tell what they are unsure of and what training they would require to have a better performance. I regularly receive valid requests, or colleagues come to my office asking how to create a group on outlook email, connect one system with another, or help them map out their career opportunities.

Isn't that the most beautiful learning environment/culture???? Learning culture is defined; one in which employees continuously seek, share and apply new knowledge and skills to improve individual and organizational performance. I think we have smashed that one!!!


But how did that happen?


Firstly, as part of my role, I have put a necessary robust training plan for every position in place. This includes a very detailed training plan for the first 90 days of joining incorporating mandatory, system, compliance, role-specific, leader and managerial tasks/role-related, and L&D led training.

Secondly, a departmental training structure has been implemented, ensuring continuous competency development. I mean, the number of training these guys produce monthly is insane in a good way!

Thirdly, every month leaders & managers receive a short (20min) leadership training to prime their brain with the intent of re-evaluating inherent and ingrained ways of thinking about people management and employee engagement. The GM is exceptionally supportive of this. As every L&D professional knows that learning is emergent from within a person, the only way to achieve change is to challenge their current way of thinking and expose them to different practices. One will click, and there will be a behavioural change!

Lastly, they receive regular nudges from me to engage in online learning, and I also send a short learning material every morning on the hotel WhatsApp group. It may be a short video, picture, practice, message etc... The team tops this by randomly sending "Did you know?" videos from separate departments to ensure that cross-departmental learning occurs. So there is learning all around!!! We do many, many more things, but these are the key drivers of our learning culture.

However, the critical factor to a learning culture is the managers! Without them, none of this would happen. Without their passion for developing their teams, training would be non-existent or done half-heartedly with no positive or tangible outcome.


Creating a learning culture is not difficult, but you need the right people to build it. I am so very proud of these guys!!!!


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