What a fancy hotel and a funeral home have in common

Last week we talked about an example of culture in action.

How it is the invisible decisions that illustrate what an organisation’s culture is.

We talked about the model created by Groysberg et al, which describes eight different culture types – each with their own attributes.

I want to talk about two more examples to describe what happens when there is a disconnect between what organisation’s think their culture is and how that culture is experienced.

So today: a high end hotel and a funeral home. In both, you might surmise that their culture would be caring (possibly enjoyment for the high end hotel). And yet, the experience as an end user/customer was quite different.

In both examples, both organisations were extremely rule bound and compliance based. In the hotel’s case, this was about what you could or could not do as a guest. The staff were very pleasant about it but it was clear that the rules came before the needs/wants of the guests. So too the funeral home. When feedback was given about one of their staff members who behaved in a somewhat callous and non-empathetic way, the response from the funeral home was that our processes are to do xyz..

These are the rules that we have prescribed ourselves as an organisation, and this is what we stick to.

So here’s where the disconnect between the culture you want and the culture you need becomes apparent. Of course all organisations need rules for order and for safety – but when you’re in the hospitality or caring business and the rules come before the hospitality or caring, then customers will leave or not return or not refer or not recommend or whatever that organisation’s measure of success is.

The Takeaway

Being clear on the culture you want and need to deliver your organisational strategy is critical. Being clear on this, and then being honest about what you have now, and whether you’re prepared to change that is the first step towards an aligned culture.

More Reading..

The Leader’s Guide to Workplace Culture 

The Eight Types of Company Culture Video 

World of Work – Competing Values Framework

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