The JW Marriott Pune Team on hiring, training, and building winning teams – The Real Leaders Project

I stayed at the JW Marriott Pune for 3 months this year and found the hotel to be a very special place. The service quality was simply outstanding and the consistency of this outstanding service meant this experience was very special. Aside from the quality of service, it also felt like the staff were genuinely having a great time at work. So, I thought it would be very interesting to pull aside the General Manager, Jatin, for an interview. Jatin insisted that I also interview his 2 top lieutenants with him and I think that already says something about the sort of example he sets. I hope you enjoy the interview.

JWM PuneJatin, Subhash and Abhimanyu lead up the operations of JW Marriott Pune. Even by the JW Marriott’s very high standards, the Pune hotel has been winning awards for it’s customer satisfaction scores since its inception 3 years ago.

Jatin is the General Manager of the hotel, Subhash is the Director of Operations and Abhimanyu is the Director of rooms.



My favorite bits –

“From day one, the kind of guest satisfaction scores that we got and the appreciation that we received in our internal Marriott system is something that we never thought we would achieve.  One of the best hotels in terms of our guest satisfaction and scores in the Marriott system is in the Asia Pacific.  Once that happened, I think that really drove people to maintain that number one spot.”

“Managers actually lead by example.  They won’t just give trainings and philosophies in meeting rooms, but they actually walk the talk.  They do it themselves. Whenever it’s busy, you’ll see them running around.  Associates really look up to them and respect them because of that. ”

“Some hotels leave it to the front desk to be responsible for guest complaints and ensuring that all guests leave satisfied, but here even a steward in a restaurant or a chef would come up to the front office team and say that they think a guest is upset, maybe we should have chat with him.  Otherwise all of these areas are too busy doing their own thing.  That’s what makes it a total hotel approach.”

“It’s about our people.  We’re in an industry where people are serving people as opposed to a manufacturing unit or some other place where you do your job in rigid processes.”

“We ensure that a happy chef makes happy food.  We hire people for attitude and a specialized skill. If they have the skill, and they have the attitude also, then we develop them into our business.”

“We have a very open system called a DIR which is a daily incident report.  We encourage people that if there is a problem, report the problem.  When you report a problem, we can then solve the problem.  There is nothing to hide, there is no reprimand.  If you make a mistake, you are not reprimanded tomorrow morning.  You made a mistake, you owned up to the mistake, and you reported your mistake.  Then there are senior managers who are in their job to do their job and resolve your mistake and to see to it that the guests come back. There is a whole culture that nobody works on threats, because you cannot deliver exceptional service with threats.”

“One of the best parts which has happened with us is that after we’ve been opened for a good three and a half years, 35% of our workforce is still from the pre-opening stage.  What that means is we’ve been able to grow them.  We’ve been able to build their courage; we’ve been able to build their confidence, and this is what the associates see when they join.”

“To say the least, you will rarely go to hotels where a housekeeping boy leaves a note for you with his own name to say that he hopes everything is fine, or goes and picks up a box of chocolate and leaves for you as an amenity.  A lot of times these things are left for managers to do – to write a nice flowery note for a guest.  However, we don’t believe in that.”

“One way that we do that is we have certain key initiatives that we roll out every year to ensure that our standards remain number one.  We get a buy-in right from the associate level on what we need to do.  Everybody gives their input.  We put it all together, and roll it out as one strategy.”

“When you’re hiring, if you are concentrating on the attitude part of it – that’s positive.  You cannot teach anybody to be humble. ”

“For example, if I’m unable to communicate to you in some great accent or in a great English language, usually as long as you see genuineness in my eyes it’s a winning moment because you will understand.”

“The guest is coming to have breakfast in the morning and he’s coming at 11:05.  All he wants is a muffin and a coffee and he’s out but they say, “Oh sorry the breakfast is cleared, you have to order a la carte.”  He has to wait 45 minutes for the order.  Maybe the customer will never come back.  In the long run it’s going to be a bigger revenue loss than those 200 rupees that we earn that day.”

“People are standing, smiling, and saying good morning and good evening, but sometimes they don’t even know why they are doing that.  Why am I saying this?  What is the ultimate theme of our hotel?  It’s to ensure that every guest leaves satisfied.   We train them in such a way to show them the forest rather than just the tree.”

“Business excellence models like PDM or Six Sigma are nothing but making sure that you are a process-oriented company and not personality-driven.   I still say we as a hotel are more personality-driven, but we are also process-oriented company.  We are somewhere in the middle. We as a team do great stuff together.”

“The best part about delivering is that every week when we all meet together on a Friday, every now and then somebody will come up with a great idea and we’ll all be really excited.  Once we execute that, we have to jump to the next thing.  That’s the challenging part – that we keep learning something new every day.”

Full transcript, as always, on