General manager are given special training, since they are the heads of individual hotel properties of the company
For most hospitality firms, hiring and retaining candidates at their hotels is the key focus. Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), however, wants to create skilled talent not just for the company, but for the industry as a whole.
In an interaction with Moneycontrol, PV Ramana Murthy, Senior Vice President and Global Head, IHCL said they believe in building capabilities.
“The hospitality industry runs on talent. Hence, being a large player we believe in building hospitality-related capabilities for the whole industry. In the process we lose one or two to other companies, we do not lose sleep over it,” he added. According to their annual report, IHCL had 32,242 employees at the end of FY18.
Entry level grooming
Murthy said even before a candidate is hired for a position, they reach out to the institutes. This is to ascertain the skill level and help them fill the gaps before they start working.
“The idea is to skill and actively groom our talent. We have partnered with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to initiate the Golden Threshold Programme (GTP). This is a three-year vocational training programme where students are awarded a B Voc in Hospitality Management by TISS. We are the skill knowledge provider for the programme,” he added.
Here, individuals having passed the 12th grade examination are eligible to enrol. During the course, the students get an opportunity to work at the hotel. This is to ensure that they have the requisite practical skills before they begin their careers.
The IHCL Annual Report for 2017-18 said it had a total of 120 Golden Threshold trainees across five cities and 10 hotels. Considering the nature of the industry, the average age of an IHCL employee is 35 years.
Murthy said they do not follow a top-down approach unlike standard training programmes where the employees are given a basic manual to follow.
“Employees should have the right values. We believe in flexibility. We cannot force-feed things in a hierarchical manner,” he added. IHCL runs a chain of hotels under brands like Taj, Vivanta and The Gateway.
Emotional intelligence or the ability to handle interpersonal relationships in an empathetic manner is key at IHCL. Murthy said they do not follow a regimented approach and let a conscious call on what decisions to take depending on the situations.
In order to assess the current culture as perceived by employees, IHCL conducted a Culture Survey supported by a research scholar from IIM-Ahmedabad. The results of this survey were then presented to the senior leadership to foster critical thinking and build further on strengths and correct opportunity areas as seen in the survey.
Since the senior managers’ emotional maturity largely determines the culture of the organisation, they also conducted a full-day workshop on emotional intelligence, after duly assessing the current levels of emotional intelligence through a scientific tool.
The attrition rate in the hospitality industry is estimated to be 30 percent. However, sources said for IHCL, it is almost half of this rate.
Focus on senior managers and general managers
At each IHCL hotel, the general manager (GM) drives the business results for the hotel. Murthy said the GM deals with multiple stakeholders like customers, employees and the community at large.
“For us, the idea is to identify the critical talent and build the ‘intrapreneurship’ capabilities. GMs have the flexibility to take major decisions and we also have structural development programmes for them,” he added. Intrapreneurs are innovators within an existing organisation, compared to entrepreneurs who are innovators who set up their own ventures.
Those at the GM level have the opportunity to pursue a nine-month programme in partnership with Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and IIM Ahmedabad. He said this involves experiential learning, simulations and is customised to different needs.
“An action-learning project is the focus of this project which involves deliverables like achieving 50 percent gender diversity, revenue growth management, empowering front-line staff among others,” said Murthy.
Mentors are also available to groom the talent. Murthy said IHCL’s executive committee members could act as mentors.“Very soon we will be launching a structural mentoring programme for the company. Apart from internal mentors, we may also draw mentors from other Tata Group companies as well,” he added.