How Marriott is Driving Consistency
in Global Frontline Leadership Development

In today’s dynamic environment, ongoing leadership development is essential for organizational success and sustainability.

Companies that invest proactively gain a competitive edge. Proactive leadership development prepares newer managers and high-potentials to take on critical leadership roles as more senior leaders retire. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their growth and development. Effective leadership programs can improve retention.

Access to career opportunities consistently ranks as a key driver of retention. Brandon Hall Group™ research shows that 62% of organizations made it a priority this year. Frontline managers are key to this effort. Lists of barriers to effective career development regularly include the role of managers and the lack of their ability to coach and champion staff.

Few organizations have the opportunity to impact belonging, equity and access to career opportunity in the same way Marriott International does. With hotels in over 130 countries across 32 different brands from basic to luxury, Marriott has made it a mission to create a skilled and effective frontline management team that is invested in and capable of supporting the growth of their frontline staff.

Employees often feel more engaged and motivated when they feel their company cares about developing them as leaders. Strong pipelines of leadership talent allow smoother transitions when key leaders leave. This maintains business continuity. Developing leaders internally fosters stability since known successors can more easily step into leadership roles. Leadership training helps embed and sustain a company’s values and desired culture.

Recent Brandon Hall Group™ research into the effectiveness of the employee experience has also revealed that leadership development is a key strategy being implemented by companies looking for ways to improve their employee experience. Access to training and development in general is consistently the top strategy listed for improving the employee experience across organizations of all sizes across the globe. It is critical to invest in the skills of your leaders to ensure your culture matches your strategy.

Better-trained leaders and managers tend to be more efficient and effective. They maximize resources and employee productivity. Leadership training helps embed and sustain a company’s values and desired culture. Leadership capacity must expand to facilitate business growth. Leadership development ensures sufficient talent is in place. Trained leaders are better at fostering innovative thinking and transforming ideas into business value. This is made even more critical by the post-pandemic stress that is wreaking havoc on the old ways of doing things in the workplace.

At Marriott, this challenge is compounded by the fact that most of the team members who wear Marriott uniforms are not employed directly by Marriott International but rather by operators, partners and franchisees. Building buy-in, ensuring participation and measuring impact — arguably among the most challenging aspects of any learning program — are all made more complex by this dynamic. Our research into learning for the extended enterprise (defined as any learner group not directly employed by the organization) shows that one of the greatest challenges to producing effective learning in this environment is the lack of cohesiveness or, better put, the difficulty of organizational silos.

This is the complex environment in which Katie Sheketoff, Director of Global Leadership Development for Marriott, had to reimagine and reinvent their approach to leadership development. Marriott chose NovoEd as their partner for their passion and industry know-how to deliver high-impact learning experiences. Founded in 2012 in Stanford’s social algorithm laboratory, NovoEd was conceived to replicate the impact and engagement typically found in a collaborative classroom. Co-founders Farnaz Ronaghi and Amin Saberi sought to create a platform that would let individuals around the globe work together online, exchange ideas, and receive feedback.

NovoEd quickly discovered that the opportunity for learners to connect and gain exposure to new ideas was the key driver of engagement. Over the next few years, NovoEd found increasing interest from a corporate market hungry to scale the benefits of collaborative learning for high-value skill development and capability building. Today, organizations around the world rely on NovoEd to drive and sustain learning engagement.

Social and collaborative learning platforms such as NovoEd help organizations build capability academies that allow teams to innovate and grow by learning together and from each other. This type of immersive, interactive learning replicates the experience of cohort-based classrooms and supercharges it by placing it — literally — in the hands of learners.

A cohort-based learning platform will keep learners engaged throughout the learning process. Users can interact with one another in real-time while completing assignments or working on group projects. Additional lines of communication increase the flow of information, while helping participants build valuable relationships.

With enhanced interaction and engagement between all contributing members, including learners, their peers, their instructors and mentors, cohort-based learning is a powerful tool for organizations that are looking for online learning that drives learner connection and growth and organizational transformation.

The 2023 Learning Benchmarking Study conducted by Brandon Hall Group™ at the beginning of last year reveals that this digitally enabled, social and collaborative learning platform is high on the list of priorities for learning organizations. One-third of respondents to the survey indicated that they are currently utilizing some form of social/collaborative learning platform. An additional third indicated that they are looking to add the capability within the next 12 months. That same study shows that learning leaders consider this approach to be among the most effective learning modalities in the workplace today.

Katie Sheketoff , along with Jacob Nikolau, Head of Product Marketing from NovoEd and Matt Pittman, Principal Analyst from Brandon Hall Group™, shared in a webinar how Marriott and NovoEd partnered to create two frontline leader programs and how they addressed the unique challenges of launching a global program in a global extended enterprise environment.

During the webinar, topics were addressed such as:

  • How Marriott set out to address global retention challenges through leadership development.
  • What Marriott’s leadership philosophy — that leadership is an action rather than a title — means for culture development.
  • Why partnering with NovoEd was key to a successful program across the enterprise.
  • How NovoEd helped Marriott scale a consistent, effective experience that drives deeper connections and engagement among participants through cohort-based learning and opportunities to learn in the space of work.

You can view the replay of the webinar here.

You can also learn more about this study and all the ways that Brandon Hall Group™ helps empower excellence in organizations at the Brandon Hall Group™ website. On the site homepage, you will find links to current open surveys, upcoming webinars, certification programs and other events.

Like what you see? Share with a friend.

Matt Pittman



Stay connected

Get notified for upcoming news subscribing

Related Content

Matt Pittman

Matt Pittman brings nearly 30 years of experience developing people and teams in a variety of settings and organizations. As an HR Practitioner, he has sat in nearly every seat including Learning and Leadership Development, Talent Management and Succession Planning, Talent Acquisition and as a Human Resources Business Partner. A significant part of those roles involved building out functions in organizations and driving large scale change efforts. As a Principal Analyst, Matt leverages this in-depth experience and expertise to provide clients and providers with breakthrough insights and ideas to drive their business forward.

Resubscribe to our email distribution list.