The Succor of Cross Training

For Bill Marriott, Chairman and CEO, Marriott Hotels, cross training could be crucial in delivering better service to the customer. [...]

March 27 2008 by Fayazuddin A. Shirazi


For Bill Marriott, Chairman and CEO, Marriott Hotels, cross training could be crucial in delivering better service to the customer. He says that the employees who are cross-trained with multiple tasks will ensure an “increasing number of satisfied guests.” Writing for his blog – Marriott on the Move, Bill Marriott who strongly underlines the need for cross training, says, “I’ve found that cross-trained associates help a hotel provide a very high level of customer service. And we encourage our hotels throughout our system to continue to cross train our people.”

Marriott feels that if employees are cross-trained, it can come handy in times of distress. “When Hurricane Wilma devastated Cancun in 2005, many of our associates were not able to show up for work. But because the Area General Manager, Chris Calabrese, emphasized cross training, the hotel was able to get back on its feet very quickly. Those that were able to come in to work were able to help out in many different areas in the hotels and ensure that things got back to normal just as quick as they could,” says Marriott adding that Marriott international hotels are very committed to cross training employees.

He is of the opinion that employees who are cross-trained often make a mark in their career graphs and they are also the ones who move up the ranks more quickly. “Our employees gain a lot of knowledge from multiple departments, which helps them develop their careers and move up the ranks more quickly,” he says.

Today many organizations are encouraging employees to be multi-skilled and add value to other functional aspects as well, which fall beyond their routine purview of job descriptions. “As organizations face the heat from customers and competitors, combating attrition, adapting to business continuity, and maximizing outputs with optimum resources, it is all done for the indispensable need of the hour to stay in the hunt,” says an article with Express Computer, an Indian online weekly insight for technology professionals. Interestingly, the article also lays stress on cross-functional trainings being an effective mechanism to cater to individual interests and career growth prospects, as advocated by Marriott in his blog post.

According to Claire Belilos, an expert on organizational training and development, and the CEO of CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services, a firm specializing in hospitality, human resources strategies, customer services, based in Vancouver, Canada, cross training results in motivation for employees. “An effective training technique which results in motivation is cross-training, when implemented horizontally, upward and downward,” she says writing in her blog easytraining.com, adding that Cross training should be carefully planned and presented as a learning opportunity. “It should be incorporated in a hotel’s master yearly training plan, covering all positions and departments.  It should begin with supervisory level and filter down to entry-level positions.”

While experts believe, cross training will help in boosting employee careers; they are also of the opinion that it also results in several other benefits. “There has been a significant reduction in the time to resolution for the average problem, stress levels for the technical support staff has greatly reduced due to a more equal division of labor and most importantly, the increased level of communication, training and direct interaction that these steps imply have resulted in a better team atmosphere and, most importantly, improved customer satisfaction,” says Brian Granier, an IT expert from the SANS Technology Institute, a post graduate information security college, based in Bethesda, Maryland.

In his case study on cross-training at SANS Institute, Granier believes that lack of cross-training programs have resulted in the existence of single points of failure, inflexible division of labor, lack of a team atmosphere, an inability to address the need for a rotation of duty as a security principle and a lack of variety in employee job duties.