ATE Steps to Energizing Performance in the Employee Lifecycle

February 20, 2023 | 866 Views

ATE Steps to Energizing Performance in the Employee Lifecycle

Kathryn Harris

Corporate Director of Learning & Development | PCH Hotels and Resorts

It used to be that if we brought in a new hire, setting expectations was “enough.” In the current environment, we all know it takes a lot more to bring employees in and to keep them.

We need to make sure our Values, Mission, and Vision resonate with them. We need to have what Simon Sinek calls the “Infinite Game.” The workforce of today wants to know the “why,” and once HR does their part of getting new hires in the door, we in L&D now have to do our part to keep them.

We can do this with a framework of ATE.

Back in April of 2022, we were experiencing a lot of turnover in our housekeeping position. I dove in to see what we could do about it. In order for us as learning professionals to really understand what the needs are, we have to immerse ourselves into those roles and the details of that position.

When I did that for the housekeeper role, I noticed inconsistency in how people would train. One trainer would teach how to make a bed one way, and another trainer would approach the task another way. I was reminded of a time earlier in my hospitality career when we brought in an auto racing Pit Crew Trainer who said you needed to find the fastest, best way to do each task, and document it.

From this initial work, we implemented the process of ATE.

The "ATE" steps to training


The famous psychologist, George Miller, said that people can best retain only 7-8 things at once. This is proven cognitive learning theory. So we need to give them only the most important things. Too often, we throw lots of stuff at new hires and just hope it sticks.

We also needed to make sure the trainers actually want to train, and that we have the right people in place as certified learning coaches.

We now schedule learning shifts so new hires can feel confident. Everyone should leave their shift feeling like “I got this.” Don’t throw someone in on the busiest day of the week. Don’t assign a full board of rooms to a new hire. Let them practice first.

One of the most effective things we did was to document for coaching shift changes. We put the 7 most important housekeeping tasks on a short, one-page form that is kept on a clipboard. The advantage to this low-tech method is that they can take it down the halls with them. It provides continuity between coaches on different days. Yes, this could be done digitally, but we have found that this works best.


Make sure all associates are warmly welcomed on their very first day and understand how their role fits in. We use a digital guide and 1-minute video so everyone hears the same thing.

Make an emotional connection that they matter. Make sure they understand that they have a place to grow, and that the step along the way are a progression – show them a path. Make sure they have the tools and resources to take the journey.


Add the element of gamification. Some of our housekeepers struggle with technology, so we have a tracking sheet blown up and laminated on the wall. The sheet defines the targets position-by-position to show a job well done. For instance, when someone makes a bed in 6 minutes or less, it is highlighted on the sheet.

So far, our employees are excited about this tracker. We have prizes, and it is fun! We forget about the impact of fun on the brain. Having fun while learning is good for the brain!

Housekeeping Hurrahs


Inclusion is one of the most important keys to retention. In team performance theory, you may have heard about norming, storming, performing, etc. But I like the TEAM acronym:

Targeting – how do I fit, what is my identity on the team

Exploring – cliques form, conflict develops

Awakening – trust and respect form, culture of sharing and accountability forms

When you exemplify these behaviors when they onboard, you can nearly eliminate the first two stages and move quickly to Mastery!

Mastery – everyone is all-in, every day


We’ve got to make milestones (and even everyday wins) an event! Company culture thrives on rituals. When our housekeepers conclude their formal training, we have pomp and circumstance in the ritual of graduation. We make it a big deal, and they love the recognition and are so proud of their accomplishment.

This is especially important when you are implementing change. One unique idea I have encountered was at a company who would have funerals for the old way, and switch gears to a birth announcement for the change item.


To establish a habit of persistent training, illustrate how their work aligns with the Mission and Values…always.

One of our employees made a cake for a guest’s birthday. It was rather sloppy! Okay, so the piping was not great, but it was from the heart – this employee took emotional ownership of our Values. This gift would not have been nearly as meaningful if the employee was a professional cake maker. Little things like this, when they are recognized and celebrated, start to cascade with the team.

CelebrATE milestones

In Conclusion

You’ve heard it said in sports that you are only as good as your last game. In hospitality, we are only as good as our last guest’s experience. A holistic approach of ATE to L&D can ensure energized performance each step of the way.


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