The Hospitality Protest Song

The difference between top senior executives and junior positions is growing and growing and growing. The one responsible for putting a vision into action often plays no part in setting that vision… You can see where this argument is going.

We grumble, quite a bit, in most corners of the industry and nothing really happens. It’s almost becoming the Hospitality Protest Song with both sides arguing for a better future, but taking no action.

However there are signs that things are starting to change. There are individuals and companies out there who are looking at their culture and changing the approach for the better.

Simply some businesses are empowering their people to create better work cultures. They argue that by having a joined-up vision it can bring everyone along the journey to achieve the same goals.

What is the vision?

The vision for a company has to filter down but we must understand or perhaps remember that those on the front line may not see the full picture. If you have competing priorities and a company process that’s focused on performance or driving numbers, it’s no surprise that it’s difficult to ‘get’ the big picture. It’s also important to predict the future – easier said then done – but if the emerging talent is to become the leaders of tomorrow, they need to be part of the creative process. How can they create a vision if all they’ve ever done is act out someone else’s vision.

How is culture changing?

Some examples around the world:

  • The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

The professional body for HR managers, asked practitioners about the impact of WhatsApp groups — both formal and those set up for advice, socialising and gossip — on the corporate culture. 26% of respondents thought they enhanced the workplace, encouraging collaboration and providing an opportunity for mutual support.

  • Traders Joes

The neighbourhood grocery stores ensure autonomy and collaboration as one worker describes: “And on a stressful day, you’ll often hear management say, “it’s just groceries.” I don’t know any other chain grocery store that gives their employees permission to feel that way. It isn’t to dismiss the dignity or value of what we do, but to remind everyone that our jobs aren’t worth ruining our mental well-being. Everyone’s grateful to be there. We all know it’s so much better than you can find anywhere else in retail.”

  • Make A Difference (MAD)

The non-profit organisation is on a mission to improve not just the learning outcomes for children at shelter homes but their quality of life. In order to do that, it has recognised that building a good work culture within is just as important. Nobody reports to the CEOs and there are no annual performance reviews. The firm’s directors and other employees hold a meeting once a week and everyone reports for that open forum. Goals are tackled collectively rather being looked at, and evaluated, individually. Employees are encouraged to walk up and talk to each other and the office is located within a house — to create a sense of family.

What does this mean?

A quick interpretation suggests:

  • Digital Communication is not as effective for creating and maintaining the right culture
  • Being truthful creates a more collaborative effect
  • Getting the whole team together to approach goals can empower them

Lackluster approaches

These examples are interesting but changing culture isn’t easy and shouldn’t always be used as a response to potential disruption. Short-term and scatter approaches can at times be dangerous.

Good intentions can go astray because leaders lack commitment. Plus people move around. For the team they may feel a culture initiative is only a phase to endure. There is also a fear that culture change can not translate to performance.

So what now?

There will be those who keep singing the Protest Song and not take any action. There will be others who are aware of the need to improve culture but take half hearted actions. And there will be others who change culture and flourish with sustained commitment and an effort to motivate their teams and align goals with a joined-up strategy.

Consistently improving the culture may lead to long-term benefits for those who really go for it.