Marriott launches £30k online training initiative

e-hr in action: A need for improved succession planning and career
progression management lead to an online talent mapping initiative for Marriott
Hotel staff

Making sure the values of your corporate brand are upheld at all times is
never easy. And when that brand is represented by some 10,000 rooms in the
four-star hotel sector, that means ensuring standards right down to every last
item in the mini-bar. After all, there’s no customer more unforgiving than a
tired, tetchy traveller who can’t find the tonic for their gin.

The development of managers and team leaders at Marriott Hotels, which
operates more than 62 hotels in the UK and is owned by the Whitbread Hotel
Company, is of paramount importance to keep the organisation operating to the
highest standards in every department.

After a restructure in October 2001, the company identified a need for
improved succession planning and development to help manage career progression,
and launched a £30,000 online initiative for 1,000 managers.

"We came up with the idea of talent mapping," says David Goodson,
director of training at Marriott Hotels. "A process was agreed that
involved identifying the core skills and requirements for each role, how these
could be assessed and how gaps could be addressed. As this would involve a
large amount of information and we wanted it to be very participative process,
the preference was to have something e-based, rather than a traditional

Goodson and his team were able to control start-up costs – particularly on
hardware – by using the Oracle i-learning platform, made available to them as
part of the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. It provides
users with a personal learning space and enables managers and team leaders to
drive their development at a pace that suits their individual needs and
preferred learning style.

Goodson secured the services of a project manager who was involved with the
overall i-learning project, and an external consultant to convert information
to HTML, but all the content was supplied by an in-house team.

The talent-mapping process is broken down into three parts:

– Skills maps: these identify the key requirements for each management role.
They list the functional/technical skills needed, competencies required and
experience necessary to do the job. In addition, there are competency
frameworks for each function that provide examples of these behaviours in

– Assessment maps: used to identify how someone is performing in their
current role or what is needed to progress to another role in the future. They
can be used either as self-assessment tools or to assess someone else. In
addition, there is a list of suggested behavioural interview questions for each

– Development maps: provide a range of ideas to support individual learning
and development. This may be a training course, but it could also take the form
of a book, a video, or even being told to look at competitors in the local
area. The learning resources are grouped against the five management
competencies as well as the functional and technical roles for each of the

The system is accessed via an intranet, and field-based managers can access
it remotely. A technical pilot was run with a group of 30 managers, and was
then rolled out on the company intranet.

"The feedback so far has been excellent. Talent mapping is becoming
part of our language, and is being used in the internal recruitment
process," explains Goodson. "A manager applying for a promotion is
expected to have used talent mapping and to provide evidence of this. Senior
directors are very supportive of it, and it is integrated into the annual
career review process for all managers."

Cascading the system down to the shop floor wasn’t part of the original
plan, but based on the positive feedback, this is now likely, says Goodson.

Supervisors aspiring to management roles can access the system, which reaps
a direct business benefit.

"The cost to recruit a manager externally is estimated to be £6,000.
The appointment of just six managers internally will show a return on the
investment that we have made."

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