Implementing a new Learning Management System (LMS) in the international hospitality group I worked for involved two change implementation scopes; Corporate level and hotel level. Although the two scopes have interrelated objectives. However, each scope has a different plan, stakeholders, and strategies. A corporate office of an international hospitality group seeks consistency of standard operating procedures (SOPs) implementation. The implementation of SOPs consistently among thousands of hotels at different hotel chains is a challenge that a corporate head reasoned using an LMS. At a hotel level, the pool of L&D directors at different hotels are one of the stakeholders of the LMS implementation at each hotel. They were responsible for leading the transition (LMS implementation) at their hotel and were accountable for creating their change implementation guidelines that should be aligned with the overall objectives of the corporate office.
Implementing LMS Challenges
The first category of challenges of implementing an LMS at a hotel level was an un-actionable challenge, i.e. Ownership of the LMS was for CO not at a hotel level. The LMS selection and approval were the responsibility of the CO; CO selected the provider, content, and instructional design. The L&D directors were not authorized to edit/change the content or the provider; therefore, they communicated any suggested amendments or of the performance of the LMS to the CO. This challenge leads to difficulties in overcoming resistance from the hotel management team, especially when the L&D directors shared the management concerns and edits for the LMS.
The second category of challenges were actionable challenges. The L&D directors had control over the actions that need to be taken in order to enhance the implementation of the LMS. The actionable challenges were related to organizational readiness level for change; Language and digital literacy of employees.
The benefits of using an LMS were shared with all stakeholders. The hotel emphasized that the LMS frees hospitality employees from having to follow the rigid schedules of classroom-based courses, giving them the flexibility to study at their own pace. It also scales to hundreds of learners catering to multiple departments, locations and facilities. It serves the same standardized material (e.g. operating procedures, menu items, customer care policy) to all learners, and It provides tools to help managers assess a training program’s effectiveness.
The main objective of an LMS is to manage the learning process throughout the hotel departments. The hotel arranged teaser campaigns for announcing the implementation of the new LMS in an attempt to engage the employees with the new change and educate them about the benefits and objectives of using an LMS.
Barriers to Successful Implementation
Implementing a new technology comes with a unique set of challenges. Often, two of the biggest hurdles our hotel had to overcome are training employees to use the technology properly and translating content from English to Arabic due to language barriers. These two challenges (unprepared for by the CO) are part of the organizational readiness level to change. If an employee can not understand the content language and does not know how to use a computer, how do we expect them to embrace the new LMS and implement it? Computer skills training and English Language training were offered to employees prior to using the LMS. This has lead to delays in the project start day.
Suggestions to Overcome Barriers
The first suggestion is to assess the organizational readiness level for change and plan the change accordingly. Weiner (2009) defines organizational readiness as “a shared psychological state in which organizational members feel committed to implementing an organizational change and confidence in their collective abilities to do so” (p.6). Implementing the LMS should be done after assessing the organizational readiness for change. English language and digital skills are some of the essential capabilities for implementing LMS.
The second suggestion is to engage the stakeholder in the change in the early planning of the change. If CO engaged L&D directors in Arabic-speaking countries, they would have advised them to include translation for the content and work on the content to encourage less tech-savvy employees to start adapting to the new learning methodology. Stakeholders play a vital role in implementing change (Huggins, 2017; Sheninger, 2014). Therefore, including them in the early stages of planning allow for different perspectives to be heard and accordingly may lead to higher chances of success in implementing new changes, especially in international operations.
Methods and Ideas for Future Implementation
The methods I recommend for future implementation are (1)communication and engagement of stakeholders and (2) assessment of organizational readiness for change. Miscommunication between stakeholders especially in the early planning phase and even throughout the whole project might lead to the failure of implementing change . Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) emphasized the role of ongoing communication with change stakeholders. Ongoing communication at all phases of the implementation means that stakeholders will share valuable inputs that might change the change plan entirely. Accordingly, involving them from the beginning will cut the cost of time, efforts, and resources. Also, assessing organizational readiness for change means that the employees’ capabilities are accounted for and organizations tailor their strategies for implementing change accordingly. As Weiner (2009) asserted “If readiness-enhancing
strategies are indeed equifinal…then organizational leaders, innovation champions, and other change agents could … focus instead of developing and using strategies that are tailored to local needs, opportunities, and constraints” (p.7).
Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234-262. Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215\
Huggins, K. (2017). Developing Leadership Capacity in Others: An Examination of High School Principals’ Personal Capacities for Fostering Leadership. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 12(1). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.22230/ijepl.2017v12n1a670
Sheninger, E. (2014). Pillars of digital leadership. International Centre for Leadership in Education. Retrieved from http://leadered.com/pillars-of-digital-leadership/
Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67). Retrieved from https://implementationscience.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1748-5908-4-67