PSFK Labs learns from Marriott how it benefits by empowering employees via education
We find the traditional notion of a 9-5 career path that offers a good salary with typical benefits slowly deteriorating. Taking its place is a heightened awareness that many employees spend the majority of their time at work, and consequently, employees are seeking far more meaning and engagement from the work that they choose to do. As we explore in the new Future of Work report by PSFK Labs, organizations are aware of this longing and recognize the benefits of addressing this need. Career development and education are essential opportunities that should be open to all levels of employees.
PSFK Labs discusses this topic further with Marriott International’s Senior Director of Global Experience Design, Leadership & Development, Christopher Baer. Baer talks to us about how Marriott takes the initiative to continue employee education in order to strengthen the company internally. As a service business, Marriott employees have a great amount of direct contact with customers, making it important to create a culture of empowerment and creativity.
PSFK: As a 500,000-strong team that works across different environments and cultures, what are some emerging commonalities in how Marriott employees approach their work?
Christopher Baer: A really big motivator for our employees, especially rising talent who will be future leaders, is that they want the opportunity to learn and grow rapidly in their place of work. Many traditional companies are struggling to keep up with the cadence of which people do want to learn and grow.
You’re seeing retention issues, for example. How do you retain top talent? Part of the way is to give them a broad array of opportunity, to expose them to new ideas and new challenges. That even contrasts to the older way of management, which is, “Do as I say and don’t ask questions.” That’s a grave demotivator for a company to indicate to a young, very talented, very bright person who’s entering the workforce.
How does this proactive learning mindset change how employees are reviewed and progress within the company?
CB: We are transitioning away from evaluating by what we used to refer to as competencies. Many competencies are based on past criteria, as in, ”This person meets the bar to achieve at a certain level.” Instead, we’re transitioning to evaluating capability, which involves people’s ability to deal with ambiguity, take on new challenges and take ownership over things that may not be easily defined. We want them to bring inspiration and energy to their challenges, in contrast to waiting for managers to dictate how it should always be done.
PSFK: How does it change their education and training process?
CB: The past methods that we used to train people, such as watching training videos for several hours, are becoming more cumbersome. It turns people off if they can’t learn at their own pace. A lot of learners these days learn fast in their roles. There’s a gap there.
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