We’ve all experienced the upheaval that 2020 has brought to our working lives. Now imagine that, coupled with only having been in your new role for 5 weeks before lockdown. That’s exactly what happened to this month’s interviewee, Sophie Dakin. In her own words, she calls it a ‘miracle’ that she feels as at home as she does at IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) after such a short period of time.
As a company that focuses on the value of ‘true hospitality,’ it’s unsurprising that Sophie has been made to feel so welcome, so quickly. Sophie describes how important it has been to hear the story of true hospitality reiterated by their CEO, Keith Barr, who demonstrates to the whole organisation the authenticity of the message.
When asked what she thinks has made the most impact in supporting staff this year, Sophie spoke about the ‘honest, upfront communication’ displayed by IHG. In times of crisis the spotlight on an organisation’s values and behaviours intensifies, and Sophie said that by speaking honestly and openly to staff about the challenges and choices being faced by the business, IHG showed that it truly embodies the ‘talk straight’ behaviour they have embedded. This approach inspires staff, and reassures them to feel like they know the true status of the business, and the thought process behind decisions that are being made.
In our interview, Sophie also talks about the complexities of being part of a truly global organisation. In regards to the impact of the pandemic, the team at IHG were given an insight into how the team based in Wuhan, the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak, coped with the strict lockdown there, and even how their hotels were turned into centres for key workers, something that has been a source of immense pride for the team. IHG have also addressed the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer, choosing to deliver the same message to all of their locations around the world about their promise to promote racial equality across their business as a whole.
Finally, Sophie shared with us an insight into the support and resources she and the team at IHG have been creating for the organisation. They wanted to create a library for all of the issues people might be facing – those who have never worked from home before, those that have never led a remote team, those returning from furlough and many more. They have chosen to seriously and sincerely spread the message that they understand that people will be struggling in different ways and to different extents, but that IHG genuinely wants to care for their staff over this trying period.