Walking into Marriott headquarters in Bethesda, Md., you might think you’ve accidentally wandered into the Marriott Suites across the street, rather than the home of a Fortune 500 company. You’re greeted by the same painted portrait of the Marriotts that hangs in every one of the company’s more than 2,600 properties. Once you “check in” and get your guest pass from the “front desk,” you’ll notice a gift shop on your left not unlike one you’d find in any hotel. (This is how Marriott tests new items for its own gift shops, offering employees a deep discount.) Downstairs, you can grab a chai latte from the Starbucks nestled in the employee restaurant. Get tired and you could sneak a nap in one of the model hotel rooms in the basement. On your way out of the parking lot, you can fill up at the Marriott-only gas station.
The welcoming atmosphere belies the fact that Marriott—like others in the hospitality industry—has suffered dramatic reverses in the past two years. But more important, it’s proof of the company’s adherence to one of the key decrees of founder J.W. Marriott: “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your customers.” Ask around and you’ll find many employee tenures in the double digits. There’s a reason why Marriott routinely makes Fortune’s annual list of the 100 best places to work.
Within IT, reward and recognition programs are tied to resourcefulness. “If you want a resourceful culture, you have to be sure you reward, recognize and compensate resourcefulness,” CIO Carl Wilson says. Every month, Wilson asks his staff for nominations for his Values in Practice, or VIP, award, honoring the employees who have “done something over and above the call of duty that’s resourceful and creative,” Wilson says. The winners are the people who exemplify his “Information Resources Operating Values.”
Wilson also makes sure his annual bonuses revolve around resourceful activities. Too many CIOs make the mistake of offering incentives to employees simply for maintaining the status quo, he says. “You have to make sure your management by objectives are oriented toward where you want to be, not where you are,” says Wilson, whose 2003 business objectives include meeting the challenge of maintaining customer satisfaction with a drastically lowered budget.