AHLEI’s Supervisory Skill Builders Training
10, October 2017 - By Elizabeth Johnson
Core of Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts Professional Development Program
A group of 20 supervisors and managers from the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and its three sister properties in Florida this week begin a much-coveted 12-week class based on the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute’s Supervisory Skill Builders (SSB) training program. Those who successfully complete the training and exam will earn the designation of Certified Hospitality Supervisor (CHS®).
Not just anyone can take the class. Participants are nominated by their department head and their nominations are reviewed by the company’s president in consultation with Bill David, CHT, the director of training, who introduced the program to the organization 14 years ago. Since then, he has led 13 classes with 213 graduates, many of whom have gone on to earn further professional certifications.
“Every manager wants to go through this training”
“Every manager wants to go through this training,” said David. “It’s very sought after; everyone wants the knowledge and the credential.”
Those selected for the program must commit to attending all 12 three-and-a-half-hour class sessions. Their managers must agree to giving their employees the time to participate — if they’re not 100 percent invested, there are plenty of others waiting for the opportunity to secure a spot in the training, which happens once or twice per year.
“We invest a lot of time, effort, and resources into developing our supervisors and managers,” said David. “The number one factor that’s going to impact the success of this company is our supervisors’ ability to hire, manage, motivate, and lead. We must give them every tool they need to make sure these processes are being managed effectively, so they can lead people to do great things.”
David said that he had three criteria in mind when selecting a training program: it had to effectively change behaviors, trainees had to gain practical tools they could use in their daily jobs, and it had to be hospitality-industry specific.
“AHLEI had the best program. Supervisory Skills Builders was the right fit for our organization”
David uses SSB’s nine modules and adds two more sessions — one on team building and another about legal issues supervisors may face. The training culminates with the Certified Hospitality Supervisor (CHS® examination.
Each class includes a mix of new and experienced supervisors who represent a variety of departments from all four locations that are part of the Gate Hospitality Group. Together, those locations have more than 900 employees, of whom 90 are in supervisory or managerial positions. Throughout the training, the supervisors exchange ideas and information, learn from each other as well as from the class material, and build strong person and professional bonds.
“A lot of supervisors feel like they are on an island,” said David. “After the class, they know other supervisors. They can reach out to each other with questions or share ideas. They know they have support.”
David noted that hiring is a major focus of the supervisory training. He said that hiring the right people is key, because improved hiring leads to better retention and lower turnover rates. At Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, the turnover rate is 40 percent or lower — impressive in an industry where the average turnover rate is 100 to 125%. He said it’s not unusual to find employees with 10, 20, or even 25 years of experience at their properties.
He also noted that the organization has been designated as a AAA Five Diamond resort for 15 years in a row, and he believes that having a cadre of trained and certified supervisors has contributed to that success.
“You have to have that quality of leadership, of service,” said David. “If you’re not developing your supervisors and your managers, you’re missing out. It’s an investment.”