One way to represent the environment in our hotel is a chart I use at our new-hire orientation class (see the Figure ).
I call this a reverse organizational chart; it is also referred to as an organizational pyramid—and, as you can see, the GM is on the bottom of the hierarchy.
At the top is the customer. Customers are the reason we are here. This focus on our guests creates alignment throughout the hotel.
Our mission is to ensure that every guest leaves satisfied and wants to return, thus ensuring customer loyalty. One of Marriott’s fundamental beliefs is: “If you take good care of your employees, the employees will take good care of your customers.”This belief is at the core of who we are and what we believe in as a company.
I say that we have two types of customers: external customers—our guests—and internal customers, who are the hotel’s associates.
I don’t use the term employee but have replaced it with the word associate. The difference is that employees work for you and associates work with you. Associate implies partnership and working together, which is a subtle but powerful message. Employee suggests a class structure wherein someone is always organizationally inferior to someone else.
It is my belief that the front line associate is the most important person in the hotel, because he or she serves the customer. The job of the supervisors, managers, and the leadership team is to:
- Support the front line and remove the barriers to doing good work.
- Lead and help people do their jobs better.
This means managers support the front line by:
- Demonstrating concern for associates (and it must be sincere).
- Solving their problems quickly and fairly.
- Above all, treating associates with dignity, kindness, and respect.
To accomplish this, leaders must develop working relationships with associates that are based on mutual trust. Quite simply, it is my fundamental belief that our associates will not treat our customers any better than we treat them. This is the cornerstone of our culture, and the challenge is to keep this idea alive as the company grows.