In the hotel and accommodation industry, where the experience you provide your guests is what principally sets you apart from the competition, it’s vital to develop a strong and unique organisational culture and values.
All of your staff — from the clerks working at the front desk, to your housekeepers, restaurant staff and groundskeepers — impact your guests’ impressions of your facility and are bearers of your brand. The service they provide and the impressions they make influence referrals and repeat business. So how do you get them to embody your culture and values so they become effective brand ambassadors?
Many leaders and managers find culture hard to define and even harder to actively create and manage. It can seem like an intangible – something that happens by itself. But truly successful organisations know that it’s something they must actively manage. And one of the ways they do that is through their HR team and talent management processes.
Talent management encompasses all the formalised processes and tools used to manage employee performance from hire to retire. It includes: recruiting/hiring, on-boarding, ongoing performance management and performance appraisals, remuneration, employee development, succession planning, job descriptions and off-boarding. There are several ways you can use these individual talent management processes to build a solid and differentiating organisational culture.
Here are just a few.
Identify, Assess and Develop Culture Based Competencies
Competencies describe “how” you want your employees to perform their work. They are the characteristics that lead to successful performance. Competencies are also sometimes called: behaviours, skills, values, performance dimensions or performance standards.
To build a strong and unique organisational culture, start by describing that culture in terms of competencies. You might include competencies like: cultural sensitivity, customer focus, communication, courtesy, environmental stewardship – whatever represents the core values or behaviours of your culture.
For each competency, you should have a name, a behavioural definition and descriptions of the various levels of proficiency. While you can use competencies from an off-the-shelf library, the best approach is to create a customised list, definitions and descriptions, so you can describe exactly how the competency should be “lived out” in your business.
Once you have created the list, definitions and descriptions, determine which competencies are core and apply to everyone in the organisation, which ones apply only to managers/leaders, and which ones are job-specific. Typically, the competencies that define and describe your culture would be core competencies.
Then communicate the core competencies that describe your culture to all your staff at every level and in every area. Make sure you include these core competencies in things like performance appraisal forms, job descriptions, job requisitions, leadership assessment tools, etc. Communication of these core competencies needs to be consistent and repetitive – the competencies need to become a corporate “mantra”.
To in-grain these competencies in the organisation, you can then assess every employee’s demonstration of them as part of their regular performance appraisal. Managers should rate their employees’ demonstration of cultural competencies on the job, and where needed, assign development activities to strengthen an employee’s performance.
This continued communication, assessment and development will help build and strengthen the culture you want.
Set Goals that Support Organisational Culture
In addition to describing your culture in terms of core competencies and developing these in your employees, you should also consider supporting your culture through your organisational goals.
For example, if customer focus is a main element of your culture, you could set an organisational goal to achieve X per cent customer satisfaction as measured by satisfaction surveys. Of if you want to increase your environmental stewardship, you could set an organisational goal to reduce waste by a certain percentage. These organisational goals should then be communicated to every employee. Next, you should then ask every employee, as part of their annual goal setting, to work with their manager and set themselves an individual goal that is linked to and in some way contributes to achieving the organisational goal. This linking of individual goals with organisational goals helps every employee see how their work directly contributes to the organisation’s success, and further entrenches your organisational culture.
Reward Cultural Contributions
You encourage what you reward – so make sure your reward and remuneration programs reinforce your organisational culture and values as well. You can use a pay-for-performance scheme, implement a bonus programme, or create any number of methods that recognise and reward desired behaviours and performance, and communicate their importance to the organisation at large. It can even be as simple as a public ‘thank you’ or acknowledgement. By recognising and rewarding employees when they exemplify your culture and values, you help to strengthen your culture.
Hire People Who Already Embody Your Culture and Values
Finally, one important way to build and strengthen your organisational culture is to hire the right people to begin with. Include the competencies that exemplify your culture in your job descriptions, job requisitions and job postings.
Probe job candidates about their attitudes and values during the interview process. Make cultural fit a job requirement, and hire people who already share your organisation’s values and focus. You should also consider cultural fit when making promotions.
By continuously communicating your organisational values and demonstrating your commitment to them to your employees in myriad ways, you help to gradual unify your workforce, build a solid culture and establish a competitive differentiator.
Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software. He writes and speaks frequently about talent management best-practices and the many ways they help organisations improve their bottom line. You can read more of his thoughts on the Halogen blog