Class or Crass? Cultivating Organizational Culture

Hiring for Cultural Fit

When new employees start a job, one of the first things they ask is, “What’s it like to work here?” They want to know whether the atmosphere is high-stress or low-key, creative or perfunctory, siloed or team-driven. They want to know whether they’ll fit with your culture, and according to Forbes, almost 90% of top organizations are managing attrition rates by paying attention to cultural fit. Your organizational culture impacts hiring and employee retention, sets the tone of your work environment, and also defines the performance standards of your employees.

At The Ritz-Carlton, the corporate culture is reinforced through our Gold Standards—our service values, employee promise, credo, and motto. For example, service value #10 at The Ritz-Carlton is “I am proud of my professional appearance, language, and behavior.” This value contributes to a tone of refinement, class, dignity, and respect for employees. It is also reflected in the dress code and the communication style at The Ritz-Carlton.

Cultivating Organizational Culture

In the book, “The Ownership Quotient,” Harvard Business School professors Jim Heskett and Earl Sasser and co-author Joe Wheeler conclude that strong, adaptive cultures can foster innovation, productivity, and a sense of ownership among employees and customers. They also point out that “organizations with strong and adaptive cultures foster effective succession in the leadership ranks.”

It is not enough to align back to your culture quarterly, or due to the P&L going south or if you have had an unfortunate customer conflict. The values, vision, mission of your organization must be known and owned by everyone every day. Corporate culture exists regardless of whether a company articulates and cultivates its culture or not. Therefore, a company that neglects its corporate culture is actually sending a message to its employees that the business leaders do not value the work environment. Some employees may take this a step further and feel they aren’t valued as well.

Culture Takes Discipline 

Of course, there may also be employees who appreciate that corporate culture is ignored because it gives them more freedom to do anything they want. This “wild, wild West” approach to culture—where the rules are arbitrary and random—might fit the style of some of your staff, but it does not provide a platform for growth and excellence.

Jim Collins— author or coauthor of Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall, and Great by Choice — stated, “a culture of discipline is not a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.” A well-articulated corporate culture establishes not only a framework for business, but also a foundation for expectations, accountability, and engagement. A strong corporate culture helps build a committed and unified team and that can lead your business toward greater success. 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement, and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.