VP of TD Tonika Quick divulges her secrets to success.
Caesars Entertainment comprises approximately 50,000 team members spread over 50 properties across the US, offering patrons gaming, dining, accommodations, shopping, entertainment, and, in some cases, additional spaces and support for professional meetings and conferences.
“We have an extremely diverse workforce, not just in the type of jobs people are performing but in our team members’ experience, education, language, and so on,” says Tonika Quick, vice president of talent development. “It’s not just dealers and croupiers. We have professionals in operations, hospitality, security, maintenance, entertainment, and business services. They’re all different and they all need development.”
Quick leads a small team of only eight TD professionals charged with building the corporate L&D infrastructure and strategies deployed across Caesars properties as well as creating branded training programs delivered and facilitated by on-site HR teams. During her two decades at Caesars, she has observed a few strategies that have helped her succeed.
Gather all the intelQuick says a major factor for any TD team’s success is its ability to gather information. Her team connects with HR at regular intervals to discuss talent management challenges and meets with property leaders to uncover skills gaps and discuss business obstacles.
But that’s not the only information source the TD team explores or data it studies. Quick’s team also leverages turnover and retention reports, reads exit interviews, and analyzes the results of the company’s team member opinion surveys such as the annual We Win survey, which assesses what drives team member overall experience, happiness, and success at work.
Like in many organizations, it’s common for managers to come to the TD team and say they require specific training. “But after we pair all the data we’ve gathered with a focused needs assessment, we often find that the problem isn’t training,” Quick reveals.
“Information the talent development team gathers gives us the knowledge and power to respond in a smart way to those requests. That’s why I have this saying: ‘I might not give people what they ask for, but I always give them what they need.’”
Pause to reflectQuick believes every successful TD team should analyze and debrief its own functionality. A few times each year, her team performs a STOP (stop to observe performance) meeting.
“It’s a very purposeful reflection time. This is where we review all of our programs, needs, and results. We look at what we’ve accomplished and examine the metrics. We start to think about what plans to make for the next year,” Quick asserts.
“We’re always looking at how we can up our game. How do we improve not just our offerings but also our teams’ own knowledge, skills, and abilities so we can deliver better learning and development to Caesars’ team members?”
Every TD team member is involved in the meeting so they can observe their triumphs and evaluate concerns. “It's not just me making the decisions,” Quick notes. “We're all involved in the discussion because we're all working on the development of these programs. We need to reflect together on what didn’t work and celebrate together on what did work.”
After the meeting, Quick relays the findings to leaders throughout the business to ensure that her team is meeting leaders’ needs. “Did we understand their requirements? Are our development solutions aligned with their initiatives and goals?”
Seek out experts and sponsors“I am not the smartest in the room by any means,” Quick says. “I am smart enough to work with really smart people who are professionals in their areas.”
For example, as her team created the leadership framework to align the leadership development pillar of Caesars University, she sought out expertise from business leaders by establishing a steering committee that includes a regional president, HR leaders, and senior leadership from several different properties. A discovery committee consisting of property managers and table game supervisors attends to the granular components of L&D programming.
“We make sure that we bring in stakeholders from a diverse group who can provide insight into what’s happening in the different areas within the business,” states Quick. “We get plenty of input and feedback about what their expectations are and how they would like programs to be delivered.”
The purpose of tapping stakeholders goes beyond benefiting from their expertise. By encouraging their involvement, Quick transforms stakeholders into sponsors who champion the work and its outcomes. As a result, those experts-turned-sponsors have had a major impact on Quick’s projects and her personal career journey.
“Really good sponsors provide insight, but they also provide visibility,” she says. “Along my career, they provided coaching and polishing. They gave me the direction to grow my career—to be able to even see what a career was.”
In fact, Quick shares that as she moved up the corporate ranks, there were some people “who just really saw me, saw my work, saw my potential—even more than what I saw in myself. They gave me the tools to develop my skills and career and, more importantly, the confidence to believe I could. I’ll be forever grateful to them.”
Quick is especially grateful to now be in a position to provide expertise herself. “I look for opportunities to be a sponsor to others who want to grow their careers. That’s what talent development is all about after all, right?”
Read more from Talent Development Leader.