Intercontinent al Hotel Group (IHG), an Atlanta-ba sed company , operates by a simple strategy: “Great hotels guest ‘slove.” IHG operates brands such as InterContinental , Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express,Staybridge Suites, and Candle wood Suites. These brands include 4,400 hotels, with 652,000 rooms, in more 100countries around the world. The company believes that how its employees feel about its brands and how they deliver theguest experience is what distinguishes it from the com peti tion. “Winni ng Ways,” IHG ‘s core values, help guide andmotivate employees to improve their per sonal and professional lives, take ownership, work together, and engage in respon sible behavior. IHG makes four promises to employees:
• Room to Have a Great Start
• Room to Be Involved
• Room to Grow
• Room for You
The “Room to Grow”promise means that employ ees are given support for development opportunities and encouraged to pursue a rewarding career. “Room to Grow” ensures that employees know what success means for their job , they receiveregular, high-quality feedback, they have opportunities to develop in their current and future roles, and they are aware of career opportunities within IHG around the world.
In keeping with its “Room to Grow” promise, IHG wanted to create a way to respond to the needs of many of its globalcorporate and hotel-level manag ers, who had indicated in surveys that they did not feel connected to each other andsenior management. To develop managers ‘ leadership skills, IHG created a vi1tual leadership developm ent communitycalled the Leaders Lounge , for the general managers in its hotels, as well as for employees holding corporate directoror higher-l evel position s. The Leaders Lounge features short and concise information on leadership, which is provided inarticles, tips, videos, downloadable tools,and best practice s within IHG. Employees who access the site can use socialnetwork s to post tips and react to the leadership content. There are several dedi cated areas within the Leaders Lounge,including the “Leadership Gym,” which features assessment tools designed to help employees identify their leadershipstrengths and weaknesses; and “Problem Solver,” which asks employees for input on leadership issues. Also included i s asection known as “The Academy,” for users to access e-learning opportunities on busi ness topics including finance, customer service, and coaching skills. Use of “The Academy” also allowed IHG to move several modules of its Senior Leader ship Program online, generating cost savings resulting from reducing travel costs related to global managershaving to travel to the training site.
There is compelling evidence that the Leaders Lounge has been effecti ve for developing managers. The Lounge costs 5 percent of the costs for a typical three-day on-site leadership workshop. More than 70 percent of Lounge members use it in any one month , averaging six times per year. More than 3,000 lead ership tools have been downloaded and shared with leadership teams around the world. Lounge members across the globe have taken content from the Lounge and used it to build local learning workshops and training sessions. Surveys for hotel general manag ers (who make up 75 percent of theLeaders Lounge membership) show that their engagement scores increased approximately 3 percent.
Sources: Based on www.ihgp lc.com, the website for Inter continental Hotels Group; P. Harris, “Where people power makes the difference,” T+D (October 2010):32-34; “Best prac tices and outstanding initiatives: Intercontinental Hotels Group Leaders Lounge, ” training (January/February 201 1): 96-97 .
1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of IHG ‘s virtual leadership development program for the company? For employees?
2. Many companies are using a blended approach for employee development. That is, they are using both face-to-face andtechnology-aided training and development activities for leadership development. What more traditional developmentactivities would you recommend the IHG include in the development program to make it more effective? Explai n how thesedevelopment activities will enhance the program’s effectiveness.
3. Do you think that IHG’s evaluation of the pro gram makes a strong business case for it? Why or why not?What other metrics or outcomes would you suggest that IHG include to improve its overall evaluation ofthe effectiveness of the virtual leadership program for employees and the bu siness? What other outcomes or metrics should IHG use to determine whether the pro gram contributes to the “Winning Ways”core values?