An Interview with Beverly Saunders, V.P. OD and Training for Atlantis
and achieving our service and guest experience goals. For whatever reason, shared expectations had emerged over time among employees, supervisors, and managers about what was rewarded and what was successful performance. We were forced to face the harsh reality of admitting what we did not know and set ourselves up to benchmark the best practices used at other successful companies and decided what would work in our organization.
The following is an interview conducted in 2006 with Beverly Saunders, Vice President, Organization Development & Training for Kerzner International Ltd., Atlantis, Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas. The interview was conducted by Dr. Gary Myszkowski, who served as the engagement manager and base trainer for the Effective Coaching Workshops delivered to Atlantis by Lore International Institute.
We realized from our Employee Satisfaction Survey that employees wanted more opportunity for development and that many of our managers and supervisors did not know how to effectively mentor and coach employees while offering support for each employee's personal development. Many of our managers seemed to be operating from the assumption that he or she was solely responsible for the results of their area without the effort of the team working towards agreed upon goals. Based on these assumptions, too many of our managers were imposing themselves on our employees, becoming task masters, and essentially not treating them with respect. We saw more and more instances where supervisors were 'writing people up' (a second level of disciplinary action) and focusing on catching people doing things wrong. The employees felt there was too much conflict with their respective managers.
Dr. Myszkowski: Beverl , how did this journey to developing a coaching culture at Atlantis begin?
Beverly: Karen Carey (Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Atlantis, Bahamas) and I started the Atlantis University in 2001 with the goals of creating a curriculum that would support the operators at Atlantis and improve specific operational issues. While our employees had been trained in the skills and procedures for their specific jobs, we knew that task skill training alone would not be enough to result in our guests having a distinctive service experience—one where we would 'blow away our guests.' For the first four years of this journey, we contracted with consultants to put together a curriculum to try to accomplish this.
Dr. Myszkowski: What needs were you trying to address through this training and education curriculum?
Beverly: We took a hard look at ourselves and realized that there were some aspects of our company culture - about how we supervised and managed our employees - that were going to be a barrier to us moving forward
So we began to assess our current situation more systematically. We carefully reviewed the results of our Employee Satisfaction Survey Index (ESI) that came out a twice a year. We listened to the feedback from our customers on the service and their experiences with our employees. We did a lot of focus group sessions. We also did a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to guide the kinds of changes we needed to make at the One and Only Club.