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How an Alignment of Values Can Ensure Organisational Success in Hospitality
By feature writer Saurabh Bakshi
How an Alignment of Values Can Ensure Success in Hospitality
In this world of fast changing economy, the flexibility of organizations is becoming more and more important. Within this context, organizations have started to realize how important it is to have the right people at the right positions. Not even the best equipment can be a measure of success if organizations do not have the right people to do the job. Every human has a set of his/her own personal values. These combine with other peoples’ values to create organizational values. The purpose of this article is to investigate how these values influence the overall performance of organizations. Through this article, I will focus on the question of whether or not organizational values influence the performance of the organizations and if organizations can be successful when their goals are aligned with their values and those, in turn, are aligned with personal values of people who are a part of the organization. In hospitality particularly, being a service industry, organizational and personal values play a key role in determining the final outcome – guest experience.
Values stand at the very core of human decision‐making. When we work in an organisation whose culture aligns with our personal values, we feel liberated. We are able to bring our full selves to work. We not only bring our energy, our creativity and our enthusiasm, we also bring our commitment to the well‐being of our associates and the success of the organisation. Unleashing this energy is tantamount to liberating the corporate soul.
Every company has its own value structure, aimed at individual growth and in turn growth of the company. At Starwood, for example, our promises serve as our company values. These are – Do the right thing, Go the extra step and Play as a team. As associates of Starwood, we are all committed to these three main and most basic values, of being correct on all grounds, whether it is legally or ethically; going the extra mile be it for associates, guests or the community; and playing as a team as unity is ultimately our greatest strength.
Although organizational values seem to many a rather “soft” concept, within the field of human resources management, it is a much more tangible concept than it seems. Organizational values are values that are being pushed forward by the management and have been proven as a good foundation for development of organization. They are intended to inspire employees with creative energy that will push the organization forward towards desired goals. It can be as simple as the ‘work-life balance’ that we maintain at Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway wherein we believe in giving equal importance to associates’ personal space as his/her professional space. One cannot always be engulfed in work; it leads to stress and work overload and is not healthy for the company either. Such policies or ideas lead to practices that inspire and motivate associates. In our case, we offer a 5.5-day week to all associates, something that can be called a one-of-a-kind approach, especially in an industry as ours where we operate 24x7.
An organization is just like a human; it makes decisions, does what it thinks is right, has legal limitations on what it can do, has moral limitations, creates and implements its own rules and beliefs, it advances on the basis of its decisions, creates myths, legends and habits and so on. We can say that organizational values are integrated into the personality of a company thus playing a similar role as values do in the lives of individuals; directing behavioural patterns, influencing relationships within the organization and influencing how a company perceives its customers, suppliers and competition.
Our essentials serve as our business strategy at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The company values, our key promises are aligned to attain the macroscopic goals - Win with talent, execute brilliantly, build great brands, deliver global growth and drive outstanding results. Each covering the myriad aspects of the hospitality industry; be it growth of individual associates, or building the brand, achieving targets and milestones, guest satisfaction or driving results.
When discussing the importance of organizational values for an organization, it is also important to present how these organizational values influence employee performance. Several authors have discussed this phenomenon, having researched personal and organizational values among employees of organizations, and have determined that those organizations that focus their selection procedure on matching personal values with organizational values tend to be significantly more successful in their work because of the fact that employees have a higher level of job satisfaction. Some later studies on the topic have even determined that some individuals perceive the importance of a good match between organizational and personal values to be more important than the income they get. This clearly shows that people have started to value how they feel in the organization more than how much they get paid for the work they do. It is doubly important in any service industry, such as the hospitality industry, that these values align with the personal values of the employees as they deal with guests day in and day out and any inconsistency in the value system will definitely show and affect the work that is done: leading to a larger consequence of not meeting the organizational goals – in our case, guest satisfaction.
Organization Culture and Leadership
The values that make up the culture of an organisation are either a reflection of the underlying beliefs of the current leaders—particularly the chief executive—or are the reflection of the heritage of past leaders.
Most organizations operate with “default” cultures. Because no one is measuring or paying attention to the culture, the underlying values and beliefs of the leaders become “the way things are done around here.”
When there is a lack of alignment between the values of the culture of the organisation and the personal values of employees, the result is low performance, which can further result in low levels of staff engagement and poor quality of products and services. All of these factors can have a significant impact on the financial performance of the organisation or its ability to deliver services of sustainable high quality. On the other hand, when the values of the organisation are in alignment with the aspirational values of employees, the result is high performance. There is a high level of staff engagement and a pursuit of excellence regarding the quality of products and services. A suitable example would be at our property, Sheraton Bangalore, where our core values are Warm, Connected and Community. When an associate is genuinely warm, friendly and connected, the personal-company value fit is high and the quality of service that results is also highly productive.
There are two other major benefits to values alignment. First, when values are aligned, the culture of an organisation is able to attract and retain talented individuals. This gives organisations a significant commercial advantage, especially when talent is in short supply. Second, value alignment builds a strong brand. Brand values and company values are two sides of the same coin. The strongest external brands are always those with the strongest internal cultures. Ultimately, therefore, whether we are talking about high performance, brand differentiation, or retaining talented individuals, the success of an organisation is directly related to the degree of alignment that exists between the underlying values of the leaders and the aspirational values of employees. Long‐term, sustainable success is highly dependent on the culture that the leaders create. Significantly, the culture that leaders create is highly dependent on the behaviours of the leaders and their relationships to other leaders in the organization and with their employees. Leaders whose energies are wrapped up in status‐seeking, empire‐building, and internal competition create toxic environments with little or no organisational cohesion. Leaders who share the same vision and values, who work for the common good, and focus on internal community building create internal cohesion and values alignment.
To put it another way, organizational transformation begins with the personal transformation of the leaders. Organisations don’t transform; people do! The key factor to transforming a low‐performance culture into a high‐performance culture is leadership. This is why organisations with strong, high performing cultures tend to replace their leaders by promoting from within, whereas low‐performing cultures tend to replace their leaders with external candidates. By promoting from within, thriving cultures are able to retain their successful leadership styles with the least perturbation. Struggling cultures, on the other hand, absolutely need to change their leadership styles. That is why they typically hire from outside the company, with the hope that the new leader will bring a new way of being that translates into a more dynamic culture.
At Starwood Hotels and Resorts, when we follow the Journey from company values to business strategy, we not only create great guest experiences, we also create a culture where Associates AND Guests, Owners, Shareholders and our Communities – can THRIVE and WIN.
Business Problems or People Problems?
Now we move to the problems, problems we face in our day to day business which we very conveniently put on people without realizing why. Always remember that problems are based on two premises (1) we don’t have business problems; they are people problems and when we take care of our people problems most of our business problems are automatically resolved. And (2) whenever a person says I cannot do this they are really saying two things, one, either I do not know how to do it or I don’t want to do it. If they are saying I don’t know how to do it, that’s a technical training issue but when they say I don’t want to do it, they are really saying two things (1) either I don’t care to do it and that is an attitude issue or (2) I feel strongly enough not to do it and it is value issue. And these are the two issues most problems revolve around. And if you look closely, you would realize that these are issues revolving around the culture and value of the organization.
When you ask any leader, “if there is one thing you would like to change that will make your organization more productive what would it be?” the answer will be in one word, “Attitude”. If our team has a better attitude we would have better team work, quality and the bottom line will go up. Try understanding attitude and you will realize that attitude is something sitting on the strong foundation of individual values. So again what we are looking for is the right set of values which will give us the right attitude.
Values are the foundation that not only helps organizations to grow but also individuals. If it is one sided, it would most certainly be short lived. So Values have to be your guiding force that would lead you to your goals and in other words success for many.
Motivation vs Inspiration
Many of you would feel now is the time where motivation will play its role. Very frankly motivation plays a very important role in creating and maintaining the substance. But if you ask, can we motivate people, the answer is absolutely not. We cannot motivate others but what we can do is inspire them to motivate themselves. Question is why? Simply because motivation is action and we cannot act for others, you need to act for yourself and not copy. Inspiration is thinking. When thinking changes, it starts showing in behaviour which is more lasting and permanent. And that’s what we all are looking for. And this is the key difference between a Manager and a Leader.
People don’t care how much you know, but are interested to know how much you care. There are no neutral leaders. There are either good leaders or bad leaders. Good leaders actively guide and bad leaders actively misguide. Good leaders create more leaders and bad leaders create followers because they are very insecure. A leader must have a vision and value. Vision is the ability to see the invisible and values are your guiding force to help you achieve your goals. The problem is not solving but pre-empting and preventing. And if we can see the invisible we can achieve the impossible. Since values turn out to be our guiding force, our credibility determines our profitability. This is not only money but goodwill, and is more important. But profitability is not the reason we practice our values, we practice because we believe in them. If we practice values because of profitability then we are acting and we should join an acting school. This means there are things in life we do or not do even if no one is watching we would still not do. And that’s what character is. There is a world of difference between reputation and character. Reputation is what people think of us whereas character is what we know we are. Character is what we would not do even if we knew we would not get caught. Some people are honest because they don’t want to get caught telling lies, they are doing the right thing with a wrong reason. Whereas some people are honest because they believe this is the right thing to do. They are doing right thing for the right reason. And that’s the difference between the two.
Values and behaviours drive culture* Culture drives employee fulfilment * Employee fulfilment drives customer satisfaction* Customer satisfaction drives shareholder value
About the author
Saurabh Bakshi is General Manager of Sheraton Bangalore at Brigade Gateway, The multi award winning first newly built and managed Sheraton in Ibdia. Saurabh is responsible for the entire hotel opeations which also includes working very closely to align management style, working practices and conduct with Sheraton Bangalore's and Starwood's vision, corporate values, operating standards and policies. Saurabh was the Executive Assistant Manager- Rooms at Hotel Leela Kempinski , Mumbai where he was responsible in developing the Rooms Division - that included a team of multinational professionals. In the past he has also been associated with Hyatt hotels and resorts.Saurabh has diverse educational background from Cornell University, New York , to Indian Institute Management -Ahmedabad to Institute of hotel Management -Pusa, New Delhi .Saurabh has been phenomenal in taking the responsibility which is assigned to him and has a proven track record.
His work philosophy has five elements - Quality, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Integrity and Humanity.
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