Chapter 3 All for One, One for All
Collecting and collaborating is just beginning, persistence is progress, and working together is success.
Henry Ford, American industrialist
Many of examples I have given demonstrate that all Marriott employees are happy and working tirelessly for common good of company. I think that's hallmark of Marriott culture - teamwork.
However, this does not mean that company's employees are subordinate and do not think independently. Marriott's team spirit is evident in following: We always want employees to know that teamwork is more valuable than preoccupation with self-interest.
So how does Marriott achieve this? I want to start with a brief period in company's long history. At that time, Marriott did not pay much attention to team spirit. Although this situation did not last long, it was worth our deep reflection. This incident also showed us importance of team spirit for enterprise from a negative side.
The problem arose from a rivalry between two particularly ambitious Marriott executives. At that time, company adjusted its internal organizational structure from time to time, purpose of which was to give some people opportunity to try new positions. And these two leaders chose same position at stage of adjusting organizational structure.
Given strong personalities of two executives, I should have been prepared to face a lot of friction, but competition quickly became out of control and turned into a "bloody match" with lots of hand-to-hand combat and controversy of confrontational competition.
I later reflected that even if negative impact of this rivalry was limited to two parties at time, it was already bad, not to mention that as situation developed, even their colleagues and loved ones were involved in shenanigans. Under such circumstances, their prudence, morale and efficiency suffer losses. None of them, including these two executives, were winners, let alone positions they wanted. After a vicious exchange, both eventually left company. This story illustrates two basic truths.
● First of all, for a "people-oriented" company like ours, it is very important to deal with relationship of "people". Both bosses were smart and competent enough to hold leadership positions, but neither of them cared about each other and about feelings of his subordinates and colleagues and put their own interests first. At same time, reputation of these two was undermined, which not only wasted energy, but also undermined their morale.
● Secondly, our corporate culture is inherently egalitarian. As an egalitarian organization, Marriott does not tolerate "big shots" and statements and actions that emphasize titles, privileges and actions are contrary to our corporate culture.In our view, those who put their own interests first are hardest to make progress.Marriott employees should roll up their sleeves and work together
When company was founded in late 1920s, it had very few, if any, privileged people. Everyone is working hard and everyone has an equal chance on promotion ladder. Purposefulness and insight are much more likely to lead to success than degrees, "privileged" connections and ability to play politics. After end of World War II, American business began to pay attention to academic qualifications of employees, but Marriott's spirit of "roll up your sleeves and work together" became cornerstone of corporate culture.
This attitude was a reflection of what company was doing at time - restaurants. In college, when I worked at Hot Shoppes in Salt Lake City, I learned a lot about this booming business, and most of all I learned about importance of teamwork. Customers come every dinner and everyone has to stick to their fasts and get ready. If you don't get food ready fast enough or wait staff don't show up in time to greet customers, you could be in for a disaster. And to prepare for that 90-minute lunch, we all usually spend morning planning and preparing. Everyone has to do their job, and if someone doesn't show up on time, whole system suffers.
And when disaster strikes, teamwork becomes even more important. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit Cancun and many employees at local JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa were unable to report to work. In order for hotel to continue operating, those employees who were able to arrive had to fill several vacancies until those who could not return to work. During such a special period, team spirit played an important role in alleviating predicament. As soon as hurricane passed, hotel immediately resumed normal operations.
Many of our employees are cross-trained - they learn to do other work in addition to official work. This will be of greatest benefit to customers, because no matter what questions and requests customers have, almost all employees can solve them without hearing answer “this is not my job”. Through cross-training, these employees can either solve customer problems themselves or know how to find right person in charge. The development of cross-training allows employees to do work that suits them best and use right job knowledge to help more guests, which is exactly what Marriott needs.
At same time, our employees benefit from cross-training as it gives them opportunity to try out different roles. Knowledge of hotel operation during training can also quickly improve their professional knowledge, and possibility of promotion will increase.
Our businessc relies heavily on teamwork and teamwork, so atmosphere is not ideal for someone with inflated egos and titles. But this does not mean that companies now have no shortage of well-trained specialists or talented employees. We certainly have, and some of smartest people have taken other difficult career paths. One thing company can guarantee is that no Marriott employee has ever been neglected for personal reasons.Marriott concept
It's one thing to create a team spirit, and quite another to maintain it. I think one of reasons Marriott has a team spirit is because we have a lot of managers who have come up from bottom. They know what it's like to work on front lines and how it can help employees develop if they have a manager early in their career who is compassionate and always supportive. Another reason that keeps team spirit vibrant and efficient is that we don't rely on some simple incentive to attract talented employees to stay with company. What we value is working state of working together and working towards a common goal, rather than risk collective disintegration to create a reward mechanism to single out a small number of people. We are very clear that everyone who works for company contributes to success of Marriott, but if management goes to serve interests of a small number of people on terms that exceed market value, this could jeopardize overall interests of company. , or even lead to complete destruction of company.
Many people wonder if such a business idea means that company cannot absorb super talents? In my opinion, not at all. One of most important and proactive decisions a company can make is to welcome bright, ambitious minds that every company needs to run company into future. However, more important is whether these aggressive people are able to control their ego. If not, then corporate system must be strong enough to help them control it. This means that you need to keep in control, evaluate whether what they do affects other people.
As part of building team spirit in your company, it's also important to help employees create an open environment where everyone can be creative. Executives who truly crave extraordinary financial results will leave company sooner or later, but for many employees, creative opportunities at work are as enticing as monetary rewards.
If your corporate structure and corporate culture are strong enough, you can tolerate comings and goings of ambitious people. No one wants a company to fall prey to creativity or ambition of one or more talents.willow people. In this sense, a healthy company is a bit like a healthy marriage. All are equal, special talents and merit are respected and appreciated, and all parties concerned know that whole is worth much more than sum of its individual parts.Today's Marriott is inseparable from human factor
Based on my observation of Marriott's growth and change over years, I have come to conclusion that a large company should not allow scale to become an excuse for complacency, selfishness and shifting responsibility.
In a large corporation like Marriott with many employees and offices, Systems can easily create a bureaucracy that stifles employee initiative. Many ideas get lost in labyrinth of management channels, where employees lose confidence in their abilities, think they can't change anything, and stop trying; or employees feel that even if they don't point out mistake, someone else will. Correct, but often because everyone thinks so, which negatively affects company as a whole.
One of most effective solutions to this problem is to constantly remind yourself that your success didn't come out of nowhere. No company can thrive without its employees, internal or external, and only with support of its people can it be a winner. It would not be an exaggeration to say that our success would not have been possible without participation of millions of partners. Our existing workforce is most valuable player in company. Our success is also inseparable from owners, investors, Wall Street, industry peers and franchisees and, of course, our customers.Employees
It is impossible not to emphasize that our people are most important thing. Marriott wouldn't exist without their hard work. This is why we make caring for our employees a top priority and why we truly hate aforementioned destructive personal rivalry. At Marriott, anyone who is passionate about it is bound to fail in end. We've put so much effort into team spirit, we just want everyone at Marriott to be proud to be part of team and I've worked hard for that.
How to achieve this if you have thousands of employees around world? I mentioned this a bit in Chapter 1. Marriott has been promoting employee-centered programs for years, hoping to increase employee autonomy and change attitudes about work, such as training courses we initiated, work-life projects, and policy development, promoting promotion within company. I hope these visible signals convey to employees that Marriott has always believed that employees are key to company's success.
The Company will also hold relevant events to celebrate contribution of employees in order to convey our importance to them. In 1996, we established Marriott Employee Appreciation Day to remind Marriott members around world that we belongthem to each other. On this day, we had parties, competitions and special prizes to express our gratitude to company. Because event was so successful, we have extended it to a week next year.
In addition to Marriott Appreciation Day, we will host a special Marriott Awards of Excellence. The purpose of awards is to recognize employees who do their best at work. This award is not limited to departments, even administrators, truck drivers, bakers, housekeepers, banquet helpers, etc. can be given this honor. The Marriott Awards for Excellence honors employees who exemplify best in Marriott corporate culture, and I especially appreciate that this award is given to employees, not executives. We recently added Alice S. Marriott Community Service Award, J.W. Marriott, Jr. and Diversity Excellence Award (Excellence Award) and other awards to recognize outstanding employees.
Equally important, if not more important, just as important as company-wide awards, is to incorporate employee recognition into daily work. Celebrating employee success should be every manager's number one priority. It's actually pretty easy to implement, sometimes a "hey, great job" is enough, and sometimes a bigger bounty is needed.shareholders
Marriott shareholders are also partners in company's success. Shareholders, executives and other investors may not be as active in daily life of our company as employees and customers, but they are also extremely important to us. It's not just that they've invested in keeping company running, it's that they're confident in our capabilities. In my opinion, no one forces others to invest for us. They made bets because they believed we would succeed, and that trust was critical to us.
In 1953, Marriott went public and all newly issued shares sold out in less than two hours. If my father ever needed more to believe his company was on right track, this trust was proof of it. Sixty years later, many of our original investors are still behind us, along with thousands of new members, including many employees who have joined company's retirement plans. Thus, shareholders are a powerful driving force of our development, encouraging us to do our best to repay their debts in order to maintain sustainable development of company and steadily increase income of shareholders. As all public companies know, if Marriott disappoints, those shareholders will let us know immediately.Competitors
Competitors are also very important if we want to be successful in long run, because they will constantly motivate us to keep improving and improving.
CFear of competition was a key factor in launch of our new brand. In early 1980s, company decided to enter limited service hotel market and develop new Marriott brand to expand its market. We're not too worried about complacent companies that are unlikely to respond to competition from Courtyard brand. We are concerned about how fast-moving competitors will react once we enter fray. The interest in Courtyard brand was that we kept plan a secret until moment product was introduced. When we found out that some of Courtyard's first guests were from competitors who wanted to check us out, we thought it was helpful.
In late 1990s, it was our turn to be shocked. At this time, Starwood created its own boutique hotel fashion brand W and introduced trendy modernist product designs to appeal to urban youth. This minimalist decorating style is a huge success. It was a wake up call for us and others in hospitality industry to recognize changes in market.
In 1980s, when our Courtyard Hotel was pride of world, launch of Starwood W brand gave everyone an adrenaline rush. Since then, we have launched EDITION®, Autograph Collection, AC Hotels by Marriott and relaunched Renaissance brand in response to diverse needs of customers looking for a stylish hotel, and in doing so, regained lost market share.
We were also inspired by 1999 Westin Heavenly Bed. While Westin hit us hard this time, we fought back with great fanfare. At that time, we replaced or upgraded mattresses and sheets in over 628,000 beds at 2,400 Marriott-operated or franchised hotels. This global transformation of bed took about 30 million meters of fabric, which can fly around almost entire globe in a week. Now all Marriott brands are constantly thinking of new ideas for our rooms, lobbies, restaurants and fitness centers in response to unknown competition.
Even if your opponents keep you on your toes in competitive marketplace, remember that they are also your companions. If you place yourself above your competitors, you also risk isolating yourself, leaving no one to turn to when you need it most.
Therefore, during global downturn in tourism industry, we decided to work with other hotels on regional, national and global issues affecting industry, and this joint work was carried out under auspices of various trade associations. For example, in aftermath of 9/11, many of our companies have been hard at work stimulating America's rapidly declining travel industry. At this critical juncture, we used full power of industry to convince government officials to force US Congress to pass Travel Promotion Act and create Brand USA. And this world's first established marketingthe program has contributed to our hospitality industry as a whole by bringing more travelers to United States.
The most recent project we initiated in partnership with our colleagues is Room Key.com, an online booking search engine. Our partnerships with Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyattyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Wyndham Hotel Group have come together to create a common search engine that makes it easier for travelers to select brand-name hotels. The hotels that search engine can find and book include not only all hotels in six major chain groups, but also thousands of other small and medium-sized hotels.Partners
Our property owners and franchisees are another important type of Marriott partner. Franchise development has been slow for a long time, but today we are excited to see so many opportunities to work with companies and individuals who want to be part of Marriott family. The relationship we have with our franchisees is a true partnership and both parties work very hard to build and maintain it. In addition, our franchisees must share company's actions, vision and values, especially emphasis on putting people first. They must meet high standards of company in order to satisfy customers. To help franchisees achieve their goals, company provides them with same resources, sharing with them our key lessons for success, prosperity and growth.
Each year, we present Partner Circle Award to best franchisee. It's great to see honorees like first-generation Indian immigrant H. P. Ram, who has been with Marriott for 16 years. At time, his son, D.J. Rama, was working as a receptionist at Providence Marriott in city center while he was a student at Hotel School of Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. Having fully experienced corporate culture of Marriott, after work he persuaded his father to cooperate with Marriott, believing that Marriott should be an ideal partner for their family business JHM Hotels (JHM Hotels).
It took Lamarrs three years to qualify as a Marriott franchisee, but they had will because they deeply believed in Marriott's values and culture. In 1996 they opened first Fairfield Inn & Suites. Now their company has opened 42 hotels in southeastern United States, half of which have joined Marriott brand.
Recently, Rama has been spending more time in India helping local Auro University in Surat train a new generation of hoteliers. He started this school with money he earned as a Marriott franchisee. Shortly thereafter, Rama family will open Fairfield Inn & Suites on campus, which now has 183 business and hospitality management students.
Whenever I think about Lamarr's story, I feel a little guilty about how little Marriott isdid with it. In past, he left his home country to seek opportunities in United States and now he is returning to his hometown to create opportunities for a new generation of Indian students and continue this great spirit. These students will want to work in hotels he manages and we also hope that Marriott brand will be used in these hotels.guest
Last but not least, our success is inseparable from millions of customers who have chosen us. Marriott definitely wouldn't exist if they didn't stay at our hotels or vacation at our resorts. We know that customers have many options.
Like our competitors, our customers motivate us. Every morning, part of our motivation to get up is to find ways to provide them with a satisfying customer experience, earn their trust, and reach more customers. While I agree that provision of food and lodging services is not an unfathomable science, companies have proposed or improved many programs over years to improve customer service. One of most interesting, in my opinion, is frequent flyer program Marriott Rewards.
The program was first launched in 1983 as a Marriott Honored Guest Award and concept was simple: every time a guest stays at one of our hotels, resorts or suites, they earn points that can be redeemed in future for possibility of staying in a room or other gifts. We're merging Guest Honors program with Marriott Miles, industry's first frequent flyer program, to provide guests with hotel points every time they fly. Later, when limited service brands were launched, we also launched a rewards program for each new brand.
In 1997, we combined all of our previous separate rewards programs into one with launch of Marriott Rewards. Today, more than 40 million people participate in program. This program allows guests to earn points no matter which hotel they stay at, and points can be used to apply for stays at virtually all of hotel brands included in program. In 2010, we introduced The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, so Marriott Rewards members have been able to earn points for stays at over 70 Ritz-Carlton properties ever since.
Finally, I want to re-emphasize: never take stakeholder input for granted. We exist because of them. As Alexandre Dumas said in his immortal masterpiece The Three Musketeers: “All for one, one for all. This is our motto.”