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How to undermine or reinforce your corporate culture

Ever had a manager who hung those motivational posters around the office, spoke of “pushing together,” or “you’re empowered to give great service” – and then acted at least once in complete disregard of those statements?

You don’t want to be caught even once

It takes only one time caught by subordinates to lose the faith of an entire group of faithful followers.  And that certainly counts for customers too, although the customer jungle drums don’t communicate quite as fast as the virtual water cooler system, even with today’s many ways of posting negative reviews about company behavior.

Culture done right

On the other hand, there are great examples of managers who put their reputation or large amounts of company resources on the line to reinforce just such statements.  Think of a surprising positive interaction you had with a call center employee or store clerk who resolved your problem and calmed your anger by exceeding your expectations.

[Email readers, continue here…]   That positive experience happened to me recently when I made an off-handed complaint to a call center employee solving another problem for me and she immediately said, “I’ll take care of that by crediting you in full for the cost of that unit.”  I was floored and told dozens of people about the unexpected service offered without an angered demand or even a request for compensation.

An example of doing this right

How do you empower your people to do what you claim as your motto or standard of service?  Some hotel chains have a policy that any desk clerk can make a problem right up to a cost of over a thousand dollars.  Now that’s showing faith.

A personal example of reinforcing corporate culture

I have told the story of a customer of our company whose facility was destroyed in a catastrophic fire which took with it all the records of guests staying at and reserved to be coming to the property.  The catch: the property was on a remote island in Australia, and the manufacturing plant in Southern California.

People working together with only the customer in mind

Without a second thought, our people gathered to help the distraught property management recover data from backups, interview present guests, and quickly install the brand-new computer diverted from another installation shipped overnight to theirs.  The benefit to the customer was obvious as was their continuous praise for the company and our people in helping them in their hour of need.  But just as important, the employees of the company participated as a unit in following the stated promise in our motto, “Customer first, always!”

Actions always speak louder than words.  Always.

  • Cleber

    Nice article, Berk. Leadership play a key role in culture reinforcement, they need to make the employee comfortable to live the culture the company wants.

  • Jules Sieburgh

    Dave, you would appreciate the one settlement key on all of citizenMs systems. It is labeled “RAK” which stands for “random act of kindness “. To be used by any ambassador (which is what every employee is called) for someone who they feel needs a little pickmeup.

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