Marriott on the Move



"Hands-On" Teaching is Key to Success

Posted: July 18, 2011 11:17:33 PM


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When I served on the General Motors board, I had a chance to work with Bob Lutz.  Bob came on board as Vice Chairman of General Motors, primarily working on product development.  He’s written a new book, which has been covered in The Wall Street Journal.  The excerpts tell about how Bob came on board GM … found that their culture was somewhat stifling.  They had a lot of meetings, they didn’t make a lot of decisions, everybody was nice to everybody, but not much got done.  

Bob Lutz's book

Then he compared the General Motors management style with that of Ferdinand Piëch, the chairman of Volkswagen, who was an autocrat who ordered people what to do and they got it done whether they thought it was right or not.  

Bob then went on to talk about how he tried to put in a new approach to management at General Motors.  He said working in product development he got some cars in from the competitors -- some of the best: Audis, Toyota and Lexus -- took his people into the shop floor and showed them how to better design products for General Motors.  His bottom line was: it’s better to teach people and train people, rather than to order them around or to sit around and talk about this project without making decisions.  

His bias for teaching and training is a similar bias that we have had at Marriott for some 84 years.  We know that if we train and teach our associates, not only do they serve the guests better, but they also do a much better job of staying with the company.  They feel comfortable in their work, they feel that they have entered the ladder of success and can go up that ladder to newer and better positions.  

GM Flint Engine Plant


In my opinion, Bob’s on the right track.  Teaching and training is far better than sitting around and pondering and not doing very much … or being an autocrat and ordering everybody what to do.  

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

Download book excerpt




Posted By: Kim Ponce (07/18/2011 at 09:43 PM)

Marriott must be a wonderful company to work for!When associates are taught properly and feel comfortable at work amazing things happen! I wish more companies shared your philosophy.

Posted By: Susan (07/18/2011 at 11:55 PM)

Look at how Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg started out... on the assembly line cranking out computer code. For them, training was the key to expansion as it is for most companies. With highly trained workforces, companies learn how to build better mouse traps.

Posted By: Amir Rehmat (07/18/2011 at 11:55 PM)

This philosophy may work in product development; however hospitality industry requires much structured approach and does not leave room for learning on the job. Every mistake can be a fatal flow for the property reputation and or for the business because these mistakes will affect customer perception. Hospitality industry must follow strict rules and adherences.

Posted By: Jack (07/18/2011 at 11:58 PM)

Lutz sure did save GM. The new Sonic compact cars look hot. He rolled up his sleeves and got things done including a big union concessions. For the first time, manufacturing is returning to the U.S. It's a fantastic turnaround story. Can't wait to read the book.

Posted By: Bozhidar Petrov (07/19/2011 at 02:29 AM)

Looking for the book.

Posted By: Fredrick Agulo (07/19/2011 at 10:49 AM)

Hands On Teaching,am experiencing it with Marriott now and am so glad.I really appreciate and looking forward to doing my best.

Posted By: Hank Mancini (07/19/2011 at 01:20 PM)

Your training seems to be effective. One of the main reasons that I am loyal to Marriott hotels is the consistency. I know what to expect and am rarely disappointed - a testament to good training. Thank you!

Posted By: Ian Sawyer (07/21/2011 at 10:01 AM)

Hi Bill. I train hard as a member of The Marriott Leisure club in Worsley Manchester. I am grateful to Kelly Taylor my trainer she is a wonderful young lady full of enthusiasm. Always greets me with a smile and treats me with courtesy. I am doing the Great Salford Swim next year for charity Help4Heroes. Any chance of sponsoring me? Currently am a non swimmer have a fear of open water and crowded swimming, but I will do it. Oh by the way I did not say I am 51 obese but reducing, diabetic, high blood pressure and have arthiritis. Thanks for reading

Posted By: Jacques Jackson (07/21/2011 at 10:21 AM)

Hands on training is the most effective way to teach associates the job skills needed. Managers that do not personally train and engage their associates are setting themselves up to fail.

Posted By: Mike Phippen (07/21/2011 at 12:48 PM)


I agree with Amir. This is all well and good but the hotel biz requires interpersonal skills not found or even necessary on the assembly line. I couldn't find a place on your websites to complain so this is it. As an event coordinator I plan and organize meetings nationwide for my company. I've only used Marriott a couple of times and was baffled each time. I call the hotel and instead of speaking with the site sales mgr I'm routed to a remote regional sales office. I Explain what I need thinking they're my contact. Then I'm contacted by catering and must repeat my entire order. I'm sent the BEO and agreements without ever speaking with the actual hotel representative! I know we're small potatos but this is a bad system!

Posted By: DC Williams (07/23/2011 at 11:18 AM)

A good perspective to be sure. Let's hope an implementation of those standards occurs at the Marriott PHL, where check-out is noon but at which this morning housekeeping, after I worked on paperwork until 3:14 a.m., started knocking on my room door at 9 a.m. despite the hotel's noon checkout time (however, I'm booked through Monday morning). Though not terribly interested in working until the morning's wee hours, business professionals get the job done when necessary, as necessary. It's been this lack of a chain-wide "attention to detail" which over the last three years has caused me to shift an upper-tier membership from Marriott to another chain.

Posted By: Live Chat (07/25/2011 at 04:06 PM)

I agree 100% that teaching and training are better than ordering people around, but the latter is the easier approach, and thus the more common, unfortunately. It is incredible, though, the positive culture change that a business experiences when there is a shift toward hands on training. The dividends are enormous and well worth the extra effort, especially for the long term success of the company.

Posted By: Cottage rental Ontario (07/30/2011 at 10:54 AM)

Yea knowledge is tpower.

Posted By: Karla (08/01/2011 at 11:21 PM)

Bill, I too love In N Out burgers. Raised in the San Fernando Valley,CA, I ate more than my share, now they have branched out to Utah which is great as I have been an Idaho girl for the past 35years. I was looking for a Marriott in Jackson Hole, sorry to see there isn't one there. Hey, Keep up the good work. You are a man with good taste. Here's to you, Marriott and In N Out !

Posted By: Sunil Gandhi (08/04/2011 at 04:02 AM)

There are three traits required for HR professionals to be successful.
“Fundamentally, emotional maturity is very important; HR people should have a very high EQ.
Next, they should be organisational savvy. They must understand the business, their bosses, their colleagues, and the culture; and, be sensitive to things around them.
Third and most important, you must embrace the art of ‘tough love’ – you need to be tough on issues but soft on people,”

Posted By: Shaun Gerien (08/05/2011 at 12:06 PM)

Dear Mr. Marriot:
Kudos to your wonderful reservations agent,
Brandy of Toronto.
I am a Rewards Member, and last night was the best call I have ever made with a customer rep
in my 60 years on this planet.
Brandy deserves a promotion.
Thanks and God Bless
Shaun Gerien - NPR News

Posted By: Ashley G (10/03/2011 at 11:50 PM)

As a new associate at the Charlotte City Center Marriott I am learning how important hands on training is. Not only is it important information but it had also made me very comfortable with the company and what I am doing. The detailed training is what sets Marriott apart from other hotels. I am proud to say that I am a Marriott associate (and have been waiting to say that since 6th grade, it's always been a dream to work with the company)! Thank you for being the leader that you are Mr. Marriott!

The comments to this entry are closed.


I'm Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International.

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