Fortune has an in-depth look at Marriott's culture this week in its "best places to work" issue. The magazine notes that Marriott's leadership, culture, and talent management practices have enabled it to achieve low employee turnover. According to the article, "The average tenure for a hotel general manager at Marriott is 25 years; industrywide it’s much lower. Some 10,600 people have been there more than 20 years."
What's the secret? Well, it's not one thing, as you can imagine. It's an entire system of activities that creates the type of environment in which people want to stay. I thought one practice was particularly worth noting. It's described here:
The second is an on-the-ground network of business councils—76 local and regional teams of general managers worldwide who meet regularly to compare notes and serve as a conduit to Bethesda, where they report to Debbie Marriott Harrison, global officer for culture and business councils (and Bill Marriott’s daughter). The councils “are one of the best tools I have,” she says.
I found this network quite interesting, because it creates the opportunity for information sharing and best practice transfer across the organization. Moreover, it enables important information to flow to the corporate office. It gives people voice and enables senior management to keep the finger on the pulse of the organization. Of course, the key to making these types of councils successful is what senior management does with what they hear from the field. I assume that Marriott demonstrates how they are truly listening to this input, and they act on the information and suggestions provided to top management. People want a voice, but they also want to be sure that they are actually being heard.