My interview subject was Andy Crowell, the General Manager of the Marriott Hotel, Austin, Texas during a recent business trip. As I spoke to Mr. Crowell, it became apparent that he genuinely enjoyed his job, and appeared that he went to uncommon lengths to ensure his employees were treated well, and truly felt appreciated. Initially, Mr. Crowell wasn’t sure what I meant when I first asked him to allow me to interview him, but his eyes and face really lit up when started to hear the questions I was asking. It felt very much like he really wanted someone outside of Marriott to hear his vision of customer service and the lengths in which Marriott, and especially his property, will to so as to ensure a high customer retention and consistently high marks in customer service, satisfaction and referrals. Overall, I came away from this interview firmly believing I have finally met someone that really enjoys being in the service industry and sees it as a calling, versus just another job.
Below is a transcribed version of our conversation. My questions are identified as “Me:” and Mr. Crowell’s responses as “AC:”
Me: Mr. Crowell, what do you know of the predefined 17 Managerial Roles?
AC: There are only 17? Based on my experience we have hundreds of roles.
Me: That’s funny. I think that most of what you are calling your hundreds of roles are covered in an umbrella title in the currently defined roles. Let me out line them to you (and then I list all 17 roles from pg 9 in the course textbook).
AC: Well, yes, I’d guess that all I do can be lumped into those categories. I haven’t seen or heard of them put in that format before.
Me: With the roles and descriptions I just gave you, which roles would you consider apply to your day to day job?
AC: Well, being the GM of this hotel, I find myself daily in the roles of staffing, task delegator, motivator and coach, monitor, team builder and player, and operational planner.
Me: If you has to pick two of the roles you just mentioned as being the most important to your success, which two would you pick?
AC: Operational Planner and motivator.
Me: Why those two?
AC: As an operational planner, I have to ensure accurate inventory of food stores and facilities coverage. It takes a lot of different types of people to ensure smooth running of a hotel. As a motivator, sometimes it’s difficult to work with the public. A younger employee may find the stress of working in a fast paced, high service hotel to be overwhelming at times. We also find that at times some of the older employees may not quite grasp the urgency of a situation. I try to keep an upbeat approach to all of my staff, and encourage them to visit with me to vent some frustration, instead of harboring discontent. I sometimes offer employees a chance to earn a free night stay at our hotel with dinner included. That way they can see how our customers feel while they are being serviced by us. It also gives them a chance to feel appreciated for the job they do.
Me: How do you offer this reward?
AC: Well, if an employee receives 3 or more specific comment cards on their performance in a week from guests, they’ll earn 25 points. It takes 100 points to earn a free night’s stay. If they work all scheduled shifts in a month without calling off, they earn another 25 points. We have peer reviews each quarter in each department. We have their peers rate their performance. Anyone earning an above average mark or better earns 25 points. These are all obtainable goals, and I’ve had some employees earning 4-7 free nights a year in our hotel.