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New Steps at The Langham


Republished from NZ Hearld - November 21, 2013

They’re doing something innovative at The Langham. Two managers at the Auckland hotel have introduced a nationally recognised qualification based on 'invisible' textbooks – a first for hotels in New Zealand.

John Parker says he and Ehab Nasr decided to partner with industry training organisation, ServiceIQ, to implement the “My Steps” programme as a development opportunity for their employees, giving them a clear career pathway with a formally recognised qualification, and to ensure standards in consistency, increased productivity and sales, and improved staff retention.

“The My Steps programme differs from other industry training courses in that it moves away from predominantly textbook-based learning to sensory and on-the-job training,” explains Parker, The Langham’s human resources manager.

“Historically, certification programmes run through hotels, institutions and restaurants have always had a lot of bookwork, but this programme is more reflective of today’s employment environment where it’s not always possible to sit people down and ask them to read a manual,” he says.

“Trainees learn through conceptualisation and thinking for themselves in their decisions and actions, while implementing the learning into the workplace.  In the restaurant training programme for example, senses like taste, smell and sight play a major part in not only knowing what the food items are but also in being able to relay that information to the customer. ”

Every person employed by The Langham participates in a two day induction programme where they are signed up to the My Steps qualification, according to their department and at no cost to themselves.  The six strands of the programme are Functions, Restaurant, Bar, Accommodation Services, Porter, and Front Office.

Tasks assigned to trainees include legislation, complaint handling, product knowledge, sales and service opportunities, host responsibility, and food care and handling.  After a three-month induction period, trainees complete each of the tasks in their own time and in any order, and are expected to achieve their National Certificate in Hospitality in around six months, but may take up to a year.

An illustration of how the programme works is in the complaint handling course, which involves a presentation from learning and development manager, Nasr.  Trainees complete questions in a booklet and practise role play.  They also fill out a complaint handling diary and reflect on how they approached the complaint and whether their handling of it could have been improved.

Research projects are an essential part of the programme.  In order to complete the National Certificate in Hospitality (Restaurant Service), a trainee is required to complete a research project on culinary knowledge, which will include such questions as, “Provide a description for each of the following sauces: Béarnaise, Beurre Blanc, Demi-glace, Hollandaise, Jus, Jus lié, and Sabayon.”

new steps to langham

Langham hotel employee Pauline Tiongson (pictured above) is training for a National Certificate in Hospitality (Bar Service) Level 3 Version 1, through the My Steps programme.  She says the course is giving her a unique opportunity to earn, improve, gain knowledge and achieve a nationally recognised qualification without going to school. 

Tiongson says it appeals to her that she is doing the course within the guidelines of an NZQA qualification, “which guarantees that it is done within a recognised framework.”  

She finds the most enjoyable part of the course to be the research. “This is the first time I can actually say that I love studying – the course makes me feel more knowledgeable,” she says.  “When I started doing the My Steps programme, I began to understand more about my role and responsibilities as a food and beverage professional in the hospitality industry. The programme benefits me by helping me gain and improve my knowledge in bar service. I have become more confident serving guests, knowing I could handle any situation that arose due to the training I have received from the programme.”

Tiongson says the opportunity presented by The Langham will appeal to individuals who are career-driven, focused and “right” for the hospitality industry. “It is a clear way to make sure the company attracts staff with the right attitude,” she says.

For more information, please contact ServiceIQ on 0800 863 693 or email