Jagjit Kaur, Director of Learning and Development, Human Resources, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, shares how the programme was implemented as well as her three biggest takeaways.

Q On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being 'very important', how important would you say it is for an organisation to invest in professional development?

I would say 8. In this day and age, human capital is an organisation's greatest asset and is key in enabling businesses to achieve their goals. For the organisation to progress, it is crucial that time and effort is invested in the professional development of their staff. Moreover, prioritising professional development of staff remains a vital tenet of talent retention for organisations across industries.

Q What initiatives do Millennium Hotels & Resorts have in place to develop staff?

At Millennium, we are committed to developing our existing and potential future leaders. This includes providing mentorship for professional growth and development, formal leadership training programmes, and providing career growth plans, promotion and transfer opportunities to talented potential managers.

In Singapore, this manifests in our ongoing management development initiative, the Millennium Hotels and Resorts Leadership & People Management Scholarship. First launched in 2017, this initiative represents the Group’s commitment to providing its staff with the necessary skillsets to succeed. In this mission the Group encourages a continuous learning culture; it has also allowed us to remain at the forefront of human resource management trends. Following the programme’s successful inaugural launch, Millennium Hotels and Resorts announced the intake for the programme’s second batch of recipients last year. The recipients comprise of Millennium staff from the corporate office and six Singapore properties – Copthorne King's Hotel, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, M Hotel, M Social, Orchard Hotel and Studio M, selected and nominated by the General Managers and direct supervisors for their outstanding leadership potential.

For continuous learning, Millennium Hotels and Resorts has accredited itself as an Approved Training Organisation with Workforce Singapore since 2017. With this accreditation, staff will be able to participate and get themselves certified in Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) programmes offered by Millennium Hotels and Resorts.

The relevant WSQ programmes will assist to qualify the team member’s competencies in Promote Tourism, Workplace Safety and Security, Service Challenges and People and Relationship Management. The Programme Promote Tourism and Workplace Safety and Security has become part of the Orientation Programme for every new staff who joins our group, making onboarding a more robust programme.

Q Please share more about how the scholarship initiative was implemented.

After a regulatory performance appraisal of Millennium staff, the hotels identify exemplary candidates for their career development. The programme itself consists of three levels spread over one year:

  • Level 3 – Supervisors
  • Level 4 – Managers
  • Level 5 – Directors & above

Millennium Hotels and Resorts collaborates with SeraphCorp Institute to deliver the Leadership & People Management programmes for our staff. At each level, the staff will go through six modules:

  • Develop self
  • Implement Change
  • Build team relationships
  • Support team
  • Encourage people
  • Support achievement of results

Upon successful completion of each level, participants are awarded an Advanced Certificate, Professional Diploma, and Specialist Diploma respectively by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). Through this scholarship programme, participants will hone their competencies in developing self, implementing change, building team relationships, creating a supportive team structure that encourages and nurtures to achieve the desired outcomes. Following the completion of the programme, a graduation ceremony is held for all the recipients.

Q What was the key business objective of the initiative?

The objective of the Millennium Hotels and Resorts Leadership & People Management Scholarship was to develop employees who are passionate about and resonate with the Millennium brand to become future leaders of the organisation. Being our champions on the ground, they will be empowered to rally the operation teams in providing an outstanding guest experience across our properties by reinforcing the image and values of the Millennium Hotels and Resorts brand.

Q What challenges were faced at each stage of the implementation process, and how were the challenges overcome?

There were various challenges faced in implementing the scholarship. The first was ensuring a commitment from the hotel properties to embark on this development journey. The second was members of staff themselves, who were unsure about the obstacles they would face during the programme and their ability to sustain attendance. Last was that the operations teams who had to find the time and reallocate resources to release staff from their duties to attend the programme.

We overcame these challenges with full support received from the senior management, who recognised the importance of professionally developing staff.

In particular, this was showcased during the launch of the programme, where recognition was given to the nominated candidates and management teams provided their written commitment towards encouraging members of staff to attend the programme sessions.

Another integral factor in overcoming challenges was the support of our external partners. Our training vendor, SeraphCorp Institute, who in addition to their flexibility in accommodating to the needs of candidates’ schedule, provided motivating trainers who boosted the morale of our staff that participated in the programme.

Q How does the skillsets acquired from the programme impact the work performance of your staff? Apart from that, what were the other unexpected results of the initiative?

Feedback from both the nominated staff and their managers has been very encouraging. In a clear demonstration of learning application to their workplace, the learners have shown an improvement in their performance, now better able to resolve challenges strategically, manage members of their team efficiently and even entrusted with projects to lead.

Unexpectedly, the programme has also reinforced our company-wide culture of learning. Our learners have voluntarily engaged in sharing sessions with their fellow team members.

Q From an HR standpoint, what were the three biggest takeaways from the programme?

My three takeaways of the programme are:

  • First, clear communication throughout the company structure – from upper management to trainees - is necessary to develop and nurture the growth of the organisation as a whole.
  • Second, allowing an opportunity for relationship building within the organisation is necessary to create a positive and sustainable work culture.
  • Third, bring about the awareness in leadership styles to adopt for an effective team.

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