Penn National Gaming, the owner of 17 U.S.-based casino and resort properties, racetracks and off-track betting facilities, did not have a formal talent development program.
With a new head of HR and a president eager to learn and improve the company’s performance culture, it began by rolling out a mini-coaching process for the top 100 managers. This move exposed it for the first time to 360-degree data, professional debriefs and substantive development goal setting facilitated by outside consultants.
This organization-wide experience led Tom Burke, then-newly appointed general manager of one of the company’s properties — the Argosy Casino, Hotel & Spa near Kansas City — to engage in an intensive strategy process.
“When I got there, I thought about how we were going to coalesce the team and figure out where we go and what we do — and integrate me into it,” Burke said.
With an emphasis on team building and strategy execution, Burke discovered that leadership depth was both fundamental and critical to the execution process. He decided to put three different groups of managers through a group-based leadership development program. The participants were Burke’s top management team — himself and his direct reports — a group of high potentials and a group of key managers and supervisors.
With their customized competency model, customized 360-degree survey and customized leadership development test in hand, along with the strategy-execution blueprint, the three groups had the kind of “orienteering tools” required to customize the program design to the demands of their business situation and to supercharge the overall development process.
The top 30 leaders at the Argosy property became deeply aligned with their mission, vision, core values and long-term strategy. They all kept score using the same metrics and have evolved a collaborative process that facilitates innovation on the upside, and handles bumps in the road more effectively on the downside, because of the conflict management techniques they cultivated during the group development process.
“It really brought the team together,” said Burke. “I believe without a doubt that it made us much more functional, it gave us direction, it clarified who and what we were, where we were going and what our roles were, both as individuals and a team. All of that combined makes us much more profitable.”Filed under: Leadership Development, Measurement