Best Definition of “Corporate Culture”
If you ask 10 people to define “organizational culture,“ you will get 11 different answers!
Fortunately, from my consulting and writing on leadership and organizational change, I created my definition of organizational culture:
“Corporate culture is how every employee knows she or he must act – even if no one is watching.”
Knowing your company’s culture proves crucial for multiple reasons, including: + Only organizational changes that fit into your company’s culture will succeed. Changes not fitting into culture will fail and not achieve desired results. + Hire employees who fit into corporate culture. That is, “Do not try to fit a square peg into a round hole!”
Fastest Way to Uncover Your Organization’s Culture
From my consulting experience, I devised a super-quick way to uncover an organization’s culture: Discover story all employees know and tell other employees. In fact, hearing company’s signature story is a right-of-passage for new employees. Hearing story implicitly tells a new employee actions and values organization expects.
Here are two examples taken from my book entitled, Absolutely Fabulous Organizational Change™: Strategies for Success from America’s Best-Run Companies.
1st Story: Ritz-Carlton-Hotel Company
Leonardo Inghilleri, senior vice president of The Ritz-Carlton-Hotel Company, told me this story often is repeated among his company’s employees.
“Ladies & Gentlemen Serving Ladies & Gentlemen”
When he was 14 years old, Horst Schulze -- currently president of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company -- worked in as an apprentice waiter in a very fine restaurant in his native Germany. Initially, he saw himself as a “servant.”
Then, he realized fine restaurant was staffed by highly skilled professionals. For example, he looked in awe as he repeatedly saw maître d' chat with and entertain diners. In fact, maître d' spoke many languages. So, he spoke German to German diners, French to French guests, and English to English customers. He also expertly helped diners with their food and wine choices. From this experience, it dawned on Horst Schulze that a luxury establishment is composed of ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. He instilled this insight into The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company where he now is president.
Company president Horst Schulze’s experience gives rise to The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company’s customer care motto which precisely expresses its corporate culture: “We Are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” Note: The company’s culture perfectly dovetails with Ritz-Carlton’s big, exciting, compelling vision: “Our key goal is to be premier worldwide provider of luxury travel and hospitality products and services.”