I’ve been living and writing about Organizational Culture (OC) and the competitive advantage it can bring to an organization for most of my career and I have been privileged to work in some organizations with the best OCs in the world. But this week I get to hone my skills by working with the legendary owner and founder of The Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Mr. Horst Schulze.

This is someone who knew the importance of OC long before it became the buzzword of the year. Mr. Schulze began the The Ritz-Carlton Hotels with a vision – “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen”.

So what makes The Ritz-Carlton superior to the competition? According to Mr. Schulze, “because we hire employees who work in an environment of belonging and purpose. That is my mantra. We foster a climate where the employee can deliver what the customer wants. You cannot deliver what the customer wants by controlling the employee. Employees who are controlled cannot respond caringly, you need superior knowledge and real leadership, not management. Because of this we specifically developed a selection process for leaders; we don’t hire managers.”

In my book, The OC Equation – Unleashing your Employees’ Passion, Potential and Performance through Organizational Culture™, I noted an organization’s culture can be easily identified by what they hire for, fire for and reward. Mr. Schulze puts it this way, “I think it is immoral to hire people to fulfill functions, a chair has a function. We hire people to join us and be part of us; their job/function is incidental. You hire a human being to be part of dream and part of a vision. We just did employee survey, asking them [employees] how much they cared for our company, on a scale of 1 to 5, five being the highest. Ninety-four percent answered with a score of five! This is unheard of, totally incredible, I love this company!”

Considering that The OC Equation™ is:

OC Equation Book by Cindy Beresh BryantThe Ritz-Carlton Service Values: I Am Proud To Be Ritz-Carlton

  1.  I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.
  2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
  3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
  4. I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.
  5. I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.
  6. I own and immediately resolve guest problems.
  7. I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.
  8. I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.
  9. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.
  10. I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.
  11. I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company’s confidential information and assets.
  12. I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.

Although written as though they are coming directing from Mr. Schulze himself, these values are something every employees embraces because first they are hired for the OC, then once they arrive, the OC is constantly reinforced through actions. For example, employees attend a daily meeting where they mutually remind themsleves:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we believe?
  • How do we do things?
  • What is it based on?
  • What are our values?

You might ask yourself, “why a daily meeting instead of just hanging the values and philosophies on the wall?” Because every day it’s a new commitment to the OC.

Mr. Schulze created a hotel empire based on the idea that employees come to work for a purpose not to fulfill a function and to sustain that OC, values and philosophies must be constantly reinforced through actions – The OC Equation™.

I am looking forward to seeing how the week progresses and learning from a master in OC.