AMC: Developing Star-Quality Talent

 -  5/2/09

The right talent can make or break a business, even when the product offers some of the brightest stars available.

“Potential” is a term every aspiring movie star wants to hear from casting directors. It’s also a trait AMC Entertainment Inc. looks for when recruiting employees. Like an Oscar-worthy film, the service industry requires superb talent performance.

AMC understands its people are key to its success and therefore provides a workforce of 18,000 with the skills it needs to keep theatergoers flocking. Keith Wiedenkeller, AMC’s senior vice president of human resources, discussed the company’s talent management strategies and the value of promoting from within.

TM: Describe AMC’s approach to talent management.

Wiedenkeller: We’ve got kind of a multitiered approach because we’ve got several different constituencies as a multiunit entertainment-based company. We’ve got our theater-based talent management, which includes the theater staff, or what we call our film crew. And we also have corporate employees. But the demographic out on our field is very different.

The people who tear or sell your tickets tend to be part-time, young and, predominately, this is not a bread-winning type job for them. Talent management at that level is focused heavily on hiring the right person so we can hang onto them as long as possible. As you might imagine, it’s a pretty high turnover position. The key is making sure we get a good job fit to begin with. Our theater managers are predominately promoted from those ranks, so that’s the other reason we have a strong focus on our recruitment and screening processes at the field level. Hopefully, we’re creating a good candidate pool for our management ranks, as well.

We’re big believers in hiring for attitude and potential, and then training for skills. To that end, we also are big believers in promoting from within. As long as we feel like somebody comes to a position with the right approach and has potential, teaching them the skills of a job is really the least challenging part of their development. Over half of our officers at AMC at one time worked at a theater as a staff member or as a theater manager.

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