Mandarin Oriental needed a new learning and development toolkit. Mission accomplished.
By Alison Tickner
A strategy will only ever be successful if employees are given the knowledge and understanding to bring it to life through their behaviors and actions. An organization that realizes this, and puts it into practice, can take great strides in not only achieving strategic objectives but also differentiating itself from the competition—which is exactly what international deluxe hotel group, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group did.
The company’s aim is to be widely recognized as the best luxury hotel group in the world, combining 21st-century luxury with oriental charm in each of its hotels. To achieve this goal, the Group recognized the importance of investing in both exceptional facilities and in its people.
To support the Group’s expansion into new markets and to differentiate itself from competitors, Mandarin Oriental aimed to engage new colleagues and re-engage existing colleagues. The Group wanted to create a new global orientation program that was linked to these aims and aligned with its mission and guiding principles. The company concluded that its pre-existing two-day orientation program was too prescriptive to meet the organization’s changing needs. Jacqueline Moyse, head of organizational development at Mandarin Oriental, wanted to introduce a new program that was more flexible.
“We needed to revitalize the orientation program,” says Moyse. “We wanted something much more interactive and participative. Our existing program was giving new colleagues too much, too soon. We wanted something less rigid, which we could deliver over a longer period.”
The program had to meet the needs of new colleagues and act as a valuable resource for anyone wishing to re-engage with the Group’s strategic core values—all while continuing their learning journey.
Oliver Wyman Leadership Development worked in partnership with Mandarin Oriental to create a unique new orientation program called MOve In. Drawing on the Group’s heritage, the MOve In program, a comprehensive employee engagement toolkit of learning and development activities, was designed to meet the needs of its diverse audience across the globe. The package, comprising a board game, jigsaw, floor mat and mission statement cards, used simple, imaginative and interactive solutions to engage employees in a quirky and fun way.
The core values of the hotel company were strongly embedded in each of the activities—for example, using the five elements of Feng Shui that link to the concepts and treatments found in the hotel’s famous spas. It was also important to ensure it linked closely to other hotel learning and development programs.
Recalls Moyse: “We piloted the activities in a range of locations across the globe, including Boston, London, and Singapore, to make sure we took into account language and cultural differences.”
But creating a toolkit was just one element of the program; the next was ensuring the learning team across the globe was supported throughout delivery. A manual was developed and regular communication routes set up for learners to discuss the program and delivery variations.
The result was a long-term, organic program where learning was embedded easily. It took into account language and cultural barriers, and all materials were designed to be easily updated. “We have had a very powerful and positive reaction to the new program, with many of the general managers telling us they were blown away by the materials,” says Moyse.
Feedback from learning and development managers has also been highly positive: “Many have said they are wowed by it, and they particularly love the interactive elements. They are all excited about facilitating the program. We’ve had a very good experience of working with Oliver Wyman Leadership Development. They got on board very quickly and designed a very imaginative solution for us. The creative design reflects our brand, and the symbols and graphics have been excellent.”
The Group understood that for an organization to grow, develop, and fulfill its objectives and vision, the people within it must understand and commit to that vision. This was why it was important that the final approach be simple, creative, and replicable globally, in order to achieve the greatest impact with employees while adhering to the core strategic aims of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.
Key Challenges Faced by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
• Employee orientation program too prescriptive
• Needed a flexible, sustainable program that would engage new, and re-engage existing, employees
• Needed a program that linked to core strategic aims and differentiated the organization
• Needed a program that could be delivered across the globe
Alison Tickner is head of Asia Pacific and is a partner of Oliver Wyman Leadership Development.