More on defining Organizational Culture…(PPC and more)

More on defining Organizational Culture…(PPC and more)

We have a host of authors within our book by Kersten and La Venture  1 that exposes the various definitions of organizational culture. There is a theme that emerges based on shared core values, beliefs, and principles.  This hints at behavior and how that behavior is communicated to a greater audience (p. 2-3).  That behavior exists within and outwit the company.  It governs the day-to-day operations and the lives that work within that community.  Yes, a community.  Marriott views their associates as a greater family.

Core Values
Core Values of the School of Hospitality Leadership
Yet, as I decipher these words, I am left with one thought, one word.  Service.  Servant leadership is a common phrase we hear about the university, and incorporate it in our culture.

The definitions of organizational culture are incomplete without the inclusion of servant leadership or service.

You may be thinking:  But it is all apart of that definition, when you argue for that commonality of themes within organizational culture.

Yes, and no.

Service is inter-woven and stands alone.  Why?  Maybe it should be the overriding concept?  See still in a heated debate.

Maybe if we address behavior.  Behavior is action.  Behavior is developed with immersion with in a unique place.  That place has three environments–physical landscape (natural/man-made environment), economic and socio-cultural.  Everyone is a product of their own three environments.  A host of variables will define those environments and shape how your beliefs are formed from the roots of those variables.  Core values remain, but the breadth and depth of those values shifts and adapts, matures and grows over time.  Some of those core values will stick with you and others you will shed with maturity, personal growth and reflection.

Life happens.

You bring these dynamics into any company.

Each individual of a society makes up the culture.  I am getting away from service and need to bring it back.  We will get to culture shortly.

Warning, service has a broad definition.  For this argument, service is the want to do something for someone else.  Not just because we have to, but because we want to.  It is the right thing to do.  We have within our hearts the want to help.  And that does have its hang ups.  We are after all human and considerably flawed.

Some have this ability to help more than others.  They have this innate compassion to such a degree that it is second nature.  No questions are asked.  Deep down we all do, but we are stymied by our own fears.

That is why I want to call it a service heart.  Some would label it as the heart of service.  But several colleagues and I have been gnashing on changing that.  I’m sure that phrase has been around for a bit.  And anyone can develop a service heart.

We have come to that conclusion that that phrase incorporates those core values.  In tourism, we have a lot of choice in products.  Some similar, some different.  What creates competitive advantage now and in the future will be the service. The human element.  People will want to return because of the people helping them fulfill their expectations.  Because we want them to return ‘home’ to us again and again.  Thus, our behavior is paramount to fulfilling the expectations of our stakeholders.  All of them.

So, at the heart of organization is a culture.  We should hold commonality, without the lost of identity.  That is something that isn’t really articulated within our first readings.  Identity.  We each bring our own sense of self to the work environment.  I have posed this question before.  How do we retain our own sense of self in a workplace that may or may not have the same common values as our own.  Today, we are seeing disparity in our society.  Not all of us possess the same beliefs.  We have our own unique cultural attributes that we bring into a workplace.  How do we mesh this divergence?  Some are not always the same.  Should we or should we not ask people to change that culture to conform (shudder) to that workplace culture?  Do the mission and vision of a company posses the flexibility to handle various cultural nuances?

Acculturation exists in tourism.  Simply defined, it is the moment when two or more cultures meet and something happens.  You can either have assimilation of one culture with another.  Yes, there may or may not be dominance of one over another.  The second may be nothing happens.  Or friction.  There is too much difference that problems occur.  Could we now extend this concept into the workplace because of the diverse backgrounds of our employees.

So, maybe I should hint at diversity.  Diversity, in its simplest terms, is about the difference in a workplace.  It identifies that difference and should be embraced. We can all contribute to our workplace. Yet, the definition is limiting to us in trying to understand that difference and how to handle it.  It doesn’t get to the heart of everything.  It doesn’t offer strategies.  Laws aren’t strategies.  There is still some mysticism with diversity.  If we extend diversity and marry it with the concept of cultural intelligence, especially when working in a global world, we can develop strategies and broader, better behaviors to handle that diversity.  Remember these are my interpretations of my own readings and research.  Don’t take it as face value.  What kind of Socratic professor would I be, if I didn’t ask you to think for yourself.  Read, digest, understand and reflect.

Culture today is so much greater, broader in definition than what some might think.

This is when I tell you that I hate definitions.  I think they are limiting.  I don’t think they encompass the expanse of variety that exists.  Yes, we need a foundation on which to start.  But how many of us stop and do not explore the many layers, the breadth and depth of those definitions. Culture is one of those definitions.  That is why later on in the semester we will be examining Cultural Intelligence.

The discussion continues…

Footnotes

1. Kersten, J., La Venture, Kelly, Lui, Katherine E. Welch, & Cervenka, Debbie. (2015). The human factor to profitability : Building a people-centered culture for long-term success / Jeanette Kersten, EdD, SPHR, and Kelly La Venture, EdD ; with a foreword by Kat Lui, PhD, and Debbie Cervenka. (First ed.).

Everything in life is negotiable…

Everything in life is negotiable…

Everything in life is negotiable…

Not necessarily.

Negotiation or the act of negotiation is an art form.  Some would argue that life is nothing but black and white.  I would then ask that person, when was the last time you noticed the range of colors around you.

Colorful pens
I love my pens

Spring break is upon us, and the week will be spending time catching up and reading several new books on event management that just crossed my desk, trying to organize the event management curriculum.  After break, we start in on the financial side of international meeting planning and then, negotiation.

Negotiation starts with research.  You need to know the person, the company, or the destination that you are dealing with.  You can’t go blindly into the negotiation room without understanding all the nuances and laws.  You can’t design an event without knowing all of the stakeholders and their needs, their wants.  Or you need to have the right team behind you to accomplish the goal.

Know yourself and your limitations.  You can’t be an expert at everything.

Construct an extensive profile of your stakeholders, the country in which you will operate in order to ask the right questions.

Do not think that what you did in your home country in terms of negotiation will work in other countries.  Keep an open mind, and do your research into the cultural norms of your host country.

Test those people you hire to aid you in the process.  Don’t blindly trust any liaison and think that they are the right person for the job.  Do background checks.  Ask for past clients to gain testimonials.

Especially overseas.  The legal maze is just as complicated, if not more so than at home.  Again, know thy self and your limitations.

So I am considering bringing ethics into the debate as well as cultural intelligence.

There are ten ethical considerations in hospitality/tourism managers (from Jaszay and Dunk (2006) Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry, p2-3):

  1. Honesty:  Hospitality managers are honest and truthful.  They do not mislead or deceive others by misrepresentations.
  2. Integrity:  Hospitality managers demonstrate the courage of their convictions by doing what they know is right even when there is pressure to do otherwise
  3. Trustworthiness:  Hospitality managers are trustworthy and candid in applying information and in correcting misapprehensions of fact.  They do not create justifications for escaping their promises and commitments.
  4. Loyalty:  Hospitality managers demonstrate loyalty to their companies in devotion to duty, and loyalty to colleagues by friendship in adversity.  They avoid conflicts of interest; don not use or disclose confidential information; and should they accept other employment they respect the proprietary information of their former employer.
  5. Fairness:  Hospitality managers are fair and equitable in all dealings; they do not arbitrarily abuse power; nor take undue advantage of another’s mistakes or difficulties.  They treat all individuals with equality, with tolerance and acceptance of diversity, and with an open mind.
  6. Concern and respect for others: Hospit­ality managers are concerned, respec­tful, compas­sio­nate, and kind. They are sensitive to the personal concerns of their colleagues and live the Golden Rule. They respect the rights and interests of all those who have a stake in their decisions.
  7. Commitment to Excellence: Hospit­ality managers pursue excellence in performing their duties and are willing to put more into their job than they can get out of it.
  8. Leadership: Hospit­ality managers are conscious of the respon­sib­ility and opport­unities of their position of leader­ship. They realize that the best way to instill ethical principles and ethical awareness in their organi­zations is by example. They walk their talk!
  9. Reputation and Morale: Hospit­ality managers seek to protect and build the company’s reputation and the morale of its employees by engaging in conduct that builds respect. They also take whatever actions are necessary to correct or prevent inappr­opriate conduct of others.
  10. Accountability:  Hospit­ality managers are personally accoun­table for the
    ethical quality of their decisions, as well as those of their subord­inates.

The question is how these 10 principles can be a launching pad for successful negotiations.  Students need a foundation on which to start.  Therefore, they will need an extensive understanding of their own self, and where they stand within these boundaries to effectively work with others.  If there is commitment to these principles, then those students can progress successfully through the negotiation process.

Our department has designed five core values that complement and mirror these ten principles (Dictionary.com)

  • Respect:  a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
  • Diversity: the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization
  • Servant Leadership: Caring for people
  • Integrity:  the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness
  • Innovate: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods

The last innovate extends those initial principles.  That we must go further and farther in our efforts to understand.  To gain a greater awareness about the whole process, and not just one aspect, one point.  To gain a greater awareness of the world in which we operate in.  You can’t develop a plan of action; be aware of potential problems without opening yourself up to learn, to broaden current skill set.  To ask the right questions.  Don’t make assumptions, especially when working in an international arena.  You’ll fall short.

Excellent article on 6 Steps to a Successful International Meeting

 

Sense of Belonging…

Sense of Belonging…
Stormy skies over Ring of Brodgar

Stormy skies over Ring of Brodgar, Orkney

So my tourism class has finished up for the most part motivation and I am sitting here reflecting on what we talked about.  I tried to convey to the students that they have to develop their own understanding of the functions of motivations for their own career aspirations.  To apply what we learn to their own passions, and how this will aid in becoming a better overall manager.  Yet, I continue to ponder the questions in my own life as a tourism researcher, as a tourism educator.

Why do people travel?  Why do we feel a kindred spirit with certain destinations?  Why are we tugged towards something that we have never really been before, and feel at home?  Why do we have a physiological, psychological, and cognitive response to a destination?  Finding out those answers is gold for a destination marketing organization.  If we can hook the heart of people, and have them make a decision, choose one destination over another, then we have succeeded at the function of promotion.

Yet, I always thought there was more to this behavior.

What are those feelings that tug at the heart, that sense of belonging that makes you return again and again to the same space, the same landscape?

What is that longing for a place?

It isn’t easy to articulate truthfully for some of us.  We are all drawn to a destination to fulfill some hierarchy of need.  Some hedonistic want to ‘see’ for ourselves what all the hype is about.  Sometimes, I can’t understand some over the top reactions to the elements of life.  I was never one to like concerts.  The behavior of participants that this was the be all to end all, that if they weren’t part of the equation, their life would somehow be less fulfilling.  I have only been to two rowdy concerts in my life, and sat in wonderment at the behavior of people.  It was nuts.  More than half the time I couldn’t hear the music for all the screaming.  I didn’t appreciate or enjoy those experiences at all, and will never again participate in such an event.

Outlander Season 2 EW photoshoot
Outlander-Caitriona-Balfe-and-Sam-Heughan-photographer MARC HOM for EW

I wouldn’t pass a moment to utilize STARZ’s Outlander as a teaching tool.  And I can’t understand some of the fan reaction to the program.  As I have stated before, the Scottish landscape figures as a character in the books by Diana Gabaldon’s series of time-travel books, and in the television show.  The marketing people are having a field day trying to gage and understand their audience.  Both participants flit from one spectrum to the next, and it is fun to watch from the sidelines.  Sometimes even take part.  Granted I am a fan of the show, for the most part the books, but I’m more of a ‘fan’ of the landscape, the country that it is based upon.  Scotland means more to me than words on a page, or the characters created and brought to life in a TV show.

But to each his or her own.  More than likely those words, just like Scott’s are an embellished representation of the genuine nature of a land, of a people, of a society.

Sense of belonging to me is not so boisterous.  Sense of belonging isn’t some fad that comes and goes.  True appreciation and enjoyment is long-standing, loyalty and more.  You know the bad exists, but the good overrides any hyped up contextualized or marginalized representation.  The true heart of the three environments that tourism and its properties are derived from (economic, sociocultural, and natural/man-made {built}) runs through deep layers of complexity.  Marketing isn’t an easy function of promotion, understanding motivation even harder.  Sometimes people get it wrong, but we hope we get it right.  Sometimes we won’t fulfill the implied promises, and people will be let down.  Their expectations won’t be met, but sometimes…you have to leave what you have envisioned through books, movies, tv, and even word of mouth, and look for yourself what is there.  Let go of all your baggage that you bring with you, and look, immerse yourself in the landscape to find that fulfillment.  As our part of tourism credo goes,

“travel with an open mind, and gentle heart”.

There is a shift in today’s marketing environment because of the interface of technology, and the use of differing platforms.  We are more in-touch than those that came before, those that had limited technology and accessibility to the variety, the diversity that is our world.  People see more, do more, have the capability of understanding more, and broaden their horizons.  Marketing is becoming more complex and transparent.  Creditability and trust are rooted in the genuine.  More and more are deciphering fact from fiction, and acting on it.

The Mantra I teach my students, and I hope that they remember is this…

Recall you are selling the right product [to the right person] at the right time, for the right price, for the right place or location, having the right promotion, engaging the right people, utilizing efficient and effective processes, and using truthful, physical evidence, that is stories and testimonials to engage with your customer…

So sense of belonging is as complex as any other concept I strive to impart.  And it will take a lifetime to understand.  Heck I haven’t even touched on this part of inter-relationship to authenticity.  Shudder…

{There is a case study in here somewhere…ha ha ha}

Empowering your employees…

Empowering your employees…
Empower your employees, don't rule over them
Empower your employees, don’t rule over them

Richard Branson’s recent blog post on Empowering your employees, don’t rule over them is an interesting read.  I agree, we need to treat employees like responsible adults, but one question remains:  Are employees mature enough to understand their responsibility to that policy and the company?  Do they understand the ethical and moral obligations that, that entails?  Maybe I am over thinking this.  Maybe I need to get to the root of what empowerment really means.  But then again, I promised you to be brutally honest, and not sugar coat the world.  Or hand out rose-tinted glasses.

Sure, as an operations manager, supervisor, and fellow employee, I recall the days when colleagues would call in sick, and know perfectly well, they were skipping out.  We called them ‘mental’ days and I took my fair share.  We just had enough of work, and needed to just be ‘bums’.  Now don’t take offense, it’s a fact of life and we all must understand why this behavior occurs.  We all have a threshold of productivity; a pinnacle of use before we slide into procrastination.  And that threshold varies from one person to another.  Believe me when I tell you, this week has been challenging in that capacity.  Half my brain is on an island in the middle of no where, or strolling along the streets of my favorite cities in Scotland.  The other half is tugging, pulling, pushing, and screaming at the procrastinating side to get to work, reminding me I have plenty to do.   I have reached a saturation point, where I need to step away from the desk, the computer, from most things and recharge the batteries.  I need a mental day.

But empowerment is a bit more than just needing a day off.  There are a host of other factors, and considerations to process.  Virgin is a service company, rooted in helping people.  Let me rephrase that, helping its stakeholders.  And as I have discussed in class those stakeholders include employees.  JW Marriott had it right, “If you don’t take care of your employees, they can’t take care of the customer.  They can’t take care of the business.  Profits won’t follow.”  In today’s information overload, our brains are working over time.  And couple that with other hard work of the body, and something has to bend, even break.

How do you create a balanced life?

I have mentioned this in class.  How do you balance your work, your professional career with personal needs, desires?  How do you give 110% or more to all the ‘hats’ you wear?  How do we develop and attain effective and efficient employees, that genuinely care about our business?  How do we demonstrate a caring attitude about our employees as persons with lives outside of work?  How do we create an innovative culture that allows our businesses to remain fresh, and progressive without high turnover rates?  How do we keep our best employees?  How do we hire employees that have the same value set, and beliefs?  All these questions and more are the layers that is empowerment.

Innovative businesses and culture must have fresh ideas, fresh viewpoints, and fresh perspectives on the dynamic world.  We can’t see the good, the bad, the ugly unless we are focused and cognizant of the world around us.  We can’t take advantage of opportunities, address threats, and weaknesses, or exploit strengths, unless we let the muddy waters settle, and acquire clarity.  We can’t recognize that precarious edge when a decision has to be made before we tumble over into deep, dark pits of stagnation, and potentially worse.  Empowerment is giving the employees the right to make decisions and more.  It has its roots in ethics.

Empowerment is about employing several of the ethical principles I mentioned in my last post.  We are definitely extending the hand of trust (trustworthiness), in that we have hired the right people, that understand that our business’ success and failure hinges on their work ethic.  That they will be honest with their employers, and their fellow employees, even customers.  That they have integrity in that they are courageous enough to recognize their responsibilities.  They will be fair, and not abuse the privilege granted them.  That there is a two-way street, a concern and respect for others, in that we employ the golden rule–that they respect the company, their fellow employees, and the guest/customer–basically, all those stakeholders that effect the company and its continuation.  That the employees have a commitment to excellence, that they give more than 110%, even more before they are even called upon to do so.  That they are all leaders, that they must walk the walk, talk the talk.

Such a policy can succeed and reinforce the corporate culture, and propel the reputation and morale of the company if this culture becomes ingrained in the psyche, and there is self policing of the policy by all individuals.  That corrections are identified and made before that behavior abuses said privilege.  And the employees are made accountable for their actions.  This in turn will build a loyal following within and outwit the company itself.  That they might set the benchmark for others to follow.

So empowerment encompasses all of these principles.  It is an action on the esteem, and self actualisation scale.  It is a difficult concept for some, easier for others.  It can’t be one of those concepts that is merely understood, but needs to be discussed and argued about.  Committed to paper, and more.

Virgin isn’t the only company that has put such a belief on the shoulders of their employees.  Ritz-Carlton, and other firms have clearly stated in their corporate culture and policies what empowerment means to their companies.  That is why it is important to research the corporate culture and core values/beliefs of those companies you want to work for.

Thoughts on Leadership and Ethics

Thoughts on Leadership and Ethics

At one moment in your life, during your career or personal life, you will have to make a decision based your code of ethics.  In determining your career, you should align your own code of beliefs with that of the company you have chosen.  You should research to see if the company has an ethics statement.  Research to see how the company has handled ethical situations.  But what is that?  Do you know your code of beliefs?  What is important to you?  How will you know it is a question of ethics or something else?  Where do I start?

Well there are 10 hospitality principles of ethics:

  1. Honesty. Hospitality managers are honest and truthful. They do not mislead
    or deceive others by misrepresentations.
  2. Integrity. Hospitality managers demonstrate the courage of their convictions
    by doing what they know is right even when there is pressure to do
    otherwise.
  3. Trustworthiness. Hospitality managers are trustworthy and candid in supplying
    information and in correcting misapprehensions of fact. They do
    not create justifications for escaping their promises and commitments.
  4. Loyalty. Hospitality managers demonstrate loyalty to their companies in
    devotion to duty and loyalty to colleagues by friendship in adversity. They
    avoid conflicts of interest; do not use or disclose confidential information;
    and, should they accept other employment, they respect the proprietary
    information of their former employer.
  5. Fairness. Hospitality managers are fair and equitable in all dealings; they
    neither arbitrarily abuse power nor take undue advantage of another’s
    mistakes or difficulties. They treat all individuals with equality, with tolerance
    and acceptance of diversity, and with an open mind.
  6. Concern and respect for others. Hospitality managers are concerned, respectful,
    compassionate, and kind. They are sensitive to the personal concerns
    of their colleagues and live the Golden Rule. They respect the rights
    and interests of all those who have a stake in their decisions.
  7. Commitment to excellence. Hospitality managers pursue excellence in performing
    their duties and are willing to put more into their job than they
    can get out of it.
  8. Leadership. Hospitality managers are conscious of the responsibility and
    opportunities of their position of leadership. They realize that the best
    way to instill ethical principles and ethical awareness in their organizations
    is by example. They walk their talk!
  9. Reputation and morale. Hospitality managers seek to protect and build
    the company’s reputation and the morale of its employees by engaging
    in conduct that builds respect. They also take whatever actions are necessary
    to correct or prevent inappropriate conduct of others.
  10. Accountability. Hospitality managers are personally accountable for the
    ethical quality of their decisions, as well as those of their subordinates.

(Jaszay, C. & Dunk, P. (2006). Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.)

These ten principles can be utilized in all aspects of leadership.  Some would say they are common sense, that one already understands these words.  But, again, the fact that they are down in paper, gives them a concrete voice.  And we aren’t questioning ourselves for a definitive definition when situations occur.

There are other code of ethics, and you can find them on the Internet.  The World Tourism Organization has a code for the tourism industry.