Changing culture from the top

Major Hospitality Company: Changing Culture from the Top

In 2010, one of the nation’s leading hospitality companies faced mounting external and internal challenges as it sought to grow and better serve guests amidst the recession.

Fast-track transformation efforts were underway and the company was seeing results although when it came time to roll out the next major wave of the business direction, leadership knew they had systemic cultural issues to address:

  1. Low trust in leadership. Employee engagement scores had fallen significantly on how leadership communicates changes and confidence in company direction.
  2. Perceptions that leadership wasn’t communicating the strategy effectively. The company’s track record for communicating strategy was poor and leaders and employees knew it; employees weren’t part of the process and it didn’t target the diverse employee audience.
  3. A limited internal communication system was in place. The company lacked an integrated internal communications department, had no focus on key messages, no listening across employee groups, and haphazard vehicles that didn’t factor the multi-cultural and non-wired workforce.
  4. Limited motivation for behavior change and poor employee perceptions of being listened to and recognized for contributions.

Knowing that 81 percent of culture change fails, senior leadership was determined to beat the odds.

The Grossman Group built a comprehensive communication program to drive culture change from the top, grow leaders’ communication capability, engage employees like never before, and create sustainable communication processes. We helped roll out the strategy and in doing so, established a disciplined, repeatable communication system for communicating business issues with employees over time.

The program achieved its goals, including the primary goal to change the trajectory of the business.

The hospitality company saw a strong rise in 2011, increasing more than 5% each during the two quarters following the strategy’s roll out. In its earnings report, its parent company credited the gain as “due to the transformation of its business model.”

In the summer of 2011, the company beat its peers, achieving the best performance in the brand’s history. Employee understanding translated into significant business results as guest satisfaction improved, according to guest surveys. And, the company surpassed its annual goals for reducing guest complaints, achieving its best quality performance in more than 20 years.

In addition, annual employee engagement scores showed double digit gains in the areas of:

  • Leadership effectiveness, helping to build trust in leaders and improve perceptions of open, transparent communications
  • Understanding the company’s strategic direction
  • Perceptions that employees are recognized for their contributions, signaling important gains in behavior change