Wherever people live and work together, culture develops. Organizational culture refers to the beliefs, values and attitudes that define your company, and like cultures elsewhere, organizational culture develops spontaneously, whether you nurture it or not. Since hospitality staff directly serve people, your customers get a taste of what your business is all about every time they interact with your staff. Managing your organizational culture is crucial for delivering the right impression every time.
Culture is less about policy and more about people, especially in the service-oriented hospitality business. To create the organizational culture you want, it’s important to define your mission and values, but the crucial second step is finding people committed to those principles. As a paper published at ScholarWorks@UMass Amhurst by Mary E. Dawson and JeAnna Abbott points out, choosing the right people improves retention rates and service levels. For example, if you want to run a bed and breakfast that’s committed to conscientious service, job interview questions about attention to detail should be included in your hiring process. Once you have your work force onboard, nurture the positive qualities you’re looking for. Dawson and Abbott point to the example of Disney University, which produces staff who are courteous and customer-focused for the company’s theme parks.
When you hire people who fit well with your culture, you’re more likely to secure a long-term commitment from them, but there’s more you can do to get people engaged with the mission of your organization. If your company believes in continuous service improvement, for example, then inspire them by practicing continuous improvement at all levels of the organization. Invest in developing employee skill sets by sending people to conferences and continuing education courses. If you expect employees to deliver a certain experience to customers, you need to make that experience a reality throughout the company. Staff should feel the culture you talk about if they’re going to remain enthusiastic.
All cultures have great stories, and your business should have one too. Writing a history of where your company came from and where it’s going makes your employees feel that they’re part of something bigger. It also helps your customers to understand where your values come from. Think about why you started your business in the first place. Maybe you thought that fine dining was too expensive in your city, so you aimed to start a business offering delicious food without pretentiousness. That easy-going attitude is something your servers can embody, and they’re more likely to get what you’re after when they understand the restaurant’s past.
Managing your culture for success is more about a feeling you create than putting specific programs into place. Start with your values first, then brainstorm how to make them real. Your plan may or may not include employee perks like free day care and bonuses. For example, in a Delta Hotels organizational profile published by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Bill Pallett, SVP of People and Quality said, “We do not have a health club. We do not have a day care center. But we have a high degree of trust between our manager and employee groups.” Decide what values are most important, then make plans that let your employees live them.