Sincerely, BLLA

The Culture Conundrum

Anyone who has ever worked for any organization has heard how important “culture” is to the operating environment. Because the word is used so loosel...

Anyone who has ever worked for any organization has heard how important “culture” is to the operating environment. Because the word is used so loosely, the significance of organizational culture is often misunderstood – the oxygen that feeds the soul of a company can be taken for granted and mishandled by its most senior leaders. Culture is professed on webpages and in handbooks as being the embodiment of mission, vision and values. But, too often, there is a disconnect between the written word and leadership behaviors – what an employee is told to believe and how to behave is not the same as what they experience.

I have conducted employee opinion surveys for more than 20 years. When receiving a negative result, the first reaction of a department manager typically has been to exclaim “I can never please my employees!” followed by comments such as, “They don’t think they make enough money” or “They’re never happy with their schedule!” However, when I do a roundtable with the employees, the feedback always includes words and phrases like “disrespected,” “not feeling valued” and “lack of communication.” Our employees are not stupid…nor are we, but we can be awfully dense sometimes. Employees expect us to keep the promises we make – especially those that are in writing. When we make claims that our values include integrity, respect, equality and honesty, employees will undoubtedly hold us accountable to live by them.

The Conundrum

Leaders have many priorities competing for attention. Too often, we focus efforts on what we convince ourselves are the urgent administrative tasks – preparing budgets, justifying revenues/expenses on financial statements, drafting work schedules, ordering supplies – rather than engaging with our employees. That disconnect causes us to be out of touch with the needs and wants of our people, which deteriorates our relationship with them. The resulting tension leads to further avoidance of interaction and an even greater focus on what we falsely tell ourselves is urgent. Thus, the culture conundrum begins.

The biggest challenge in the culture conundrum is that senior leaders often desire immediate and significant positive results for little effort. Warren Buffett has a famous quote: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Creating a strong, positive culture takes a very long time. The metric rewards take even longer. However, a single action that goes against an organization’s values can set the trust in the culture back months or even years. Every interaction can not only erode trust but can develop a negative culture that permeates the entire organization right down to the bottom line.

The Solution

We expect our employees to demonstrate our organization’s values to clients, customers and guests. How often do we look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are demonstrating those same values to our employees? Are we listening and making good on our commitments to them? As leaders, we have a singular critical purpose – to be of service to our employees. If we do that, everything else falls into place. When employees are supported, they feel included. When employees feel included, they become engaged. When employees become engaged, they exhibit the organization’s values to our guests. When the organization’s values are exhibited to guests, everyone experiences “culture” in the way it is intended. Metrics fire on all cylinders – employee opinion survey scores, guest reviews and financial statements achieve their maximum potential.

The solution to the culture conundrum sounds simple. However, the inherent structure of an organization can present a massive roadblock to creating a culture-rich environment. At Staypineapple, we believe our infrastructure should be built to facilitate our cultural expectations. We utilize a fully centralized support system for administrative functions – Human Resources, Accounting, Sales & Marketing and Revenue Management are all housed at the Staypineapple Headquarters. We remove the vast majority of the burden of administration from the shoulders of our Operations managers, allowing them to focus nearly entirely on supporting our Team Members to provide exceptional service to our guests. Leaders can take the time to build meaningful relationships with each of their Team Members, respond to concerns, address resource needs and serve as an advocate and liaison to senior leadership.

We are all human and nobody is perfect. We cannot expect everyone to be happy with every decision we make. But we can be active in our determination to live by our organization’s values, if we own up to our mistakes and if we hold each other accountable for doing the same, we will succeed at solving the culture conundrum. We all will benefit from the win.

This post was contributed by Mike Hirschler, Chief People Officer at Staypineapple Hotels

You might like these too

The Impact of Boutique Hotels on the Travel Industry

Shaping Unique Experiences and Future Trends in Hospitality In an evolving travel landscape, boutique hotels have emerged as significant players, r...

Maximizing Room Profitability, Minimizing Environmental Impact

Avendra’s Commodity Market Update for Q1 2024 rings in some good news for your budget and guest experience. Inflation appears to be stabilizing, and ...