June 5, 2024


June 5, 2024
Building a Strong Foundation for Success

Albert Einstein once said, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.” This quote underscores the importance of prioritizing values over mere success. Many leaders assume that specific values are self-evident, but the truth is, this understanding won’t happen without a relentless focus on hiring the right people and reinforcing values at every turn.

Ultimately, the true strength of a company lies not just in its products or services but in the values it instills in its people. This approach ensures a consistent and unified pursuit of excellence, fostering a culture where  quality and integrity are paramount.

What are Core Values?

Core values are the fundamental beliefs that guide and shape an organization's culture, actions, and decision-making processes. They define what the company stands for and represent its identity. These values should be aspirational, meaning they reflect what the company strives to be and how it wants its employees to behave.

Importance of Core Values

Having clearly defined core values brings numerous benefits to an organization, including:

  • Attracts and Retains Top Talent: People want to work for a company that aligns with their personal values. When a company's core values resonate with potential hires, they are more likely to join and stay with the organization.
  • Builds a Strong Company Culture: Core values create a shared sense of purpose and belonging, fostering a positive work environment. This can lead to increased employee engagement, productivity, and overall satisfaction.
  • Guides Decision-Making: When faced with tough decisions, core values serve as a compass for everyone to make the right choices that align with the company's beliefs.
  • Enhances Reputation and Branding: Companies with strong core values are often perceived as more trustworthy, ethical, and socially responsible. This helps attract consumers who share similar values and can lead to increased brand loyalty.
Reinforcing Core Values

To truly embed core values into an organization's DNA, it is essential to reinforce them consistently. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Lead by Example: Leaders must embody the core values they expect from their employees. They should consistently demonstrate these values in their behavior and decision-making processes.
  • Incorporate Values into Hiring Process: During recruitment, companies should not only assess a candidate's skills and qualifications but also their alignment with the company's core values. This ensures that new hires will fit into the company culture and contribute to its success.
  • Communicate Values Regularly: Core values should be communicated through various channels, such as team meetings, town halls, and internal communications. This helps reinforce their importance in the organization's daily operations.
  • Recognize and Reward Employees for Living the Values: When employees exemplify core values in their actions, it is essential to acknowledge and reward them. This reinforces the values and encourages others to emulate similar behavior.
  • Provide Training and Development: Companies should invest in training and development programs that align with their core values, helping employees understand their importance and how to apply them in their roles.

Whether or not you've stayed at a Ritz-Carlton, the hotel chain is widely regarded as one of the most elegant and luxurious hospitality options available. Known for its iconic lion and crown emblem, Ritz-Carlton hotels are synonymous with sophistication and elegance. However, not everyone knows what makes the hotel chain’s clock truly tick.

The 119-location, 31,179-room hotel chain operates luxury hotels and five-star resorts worldwide and has long demonstrated an organizational culture based on outstanding customer service. Established in 1983 and currently headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the Ritz-Carlton has built a reputation for delivering unparalleled guest experiences. Besides holding one of the highest J.D. Power rankings for guest satisfaction, the renowned chain has received all the significant awards the hospitality industry can bestow, including Forbes Five-Star Awards and AAA Five Diamond Awards.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company sets the standard for luxury experiences worldwide and is the only service company to twice capture the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. A key element of their success is the meticulous attention to detail exhibited by their staff. Whenever possible, employees greet guests by name, record details about guest preferences, and use the information to tailor future stays. This level of personalized service ensures that every guest feels valued and special.

The Gold Standards: A Foundation of Excellence

The secret to Ritz-Carlton’s exceptional customer service is its unwavering commitment to its "Gold Standards," established over a century ago at the company's inception. These standards encompass the philosophy and values by which the brand operates, including the Motto, the Credo, the Three Steps of Service, the Service Values, and the Employee Promise. The Credo states, "The Ritz-Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission." These guiding principles are ingrained in each employee from their first day on the job.

The Ritz-Carlton’s standards are not hidden secrets; they are proudly displayed on the hotel’s website, allowing anyone to understand the brand’s service philosophy. The Motto, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” is probably the most famous part of the Gold Standards. Employees use this framework to interact with guests and coworkers, fostering a respectful and professional work environment.

Investing in People: Training and Development

Ritz-Carlton invests heavily in training and development, ensuring that each staff member is equipped to deliver the highest level of service. Their leadership center in Maryland provides comprehensive courses on customer service excellence, which many other luxury brands have sought to emulate. This commitment to continuous improvement and adherence to their Gold Standards has solidified the Ritz-Carlton's position as a leader in the luxury hospitality industry.

The company pledges to “provide the finest personal service and facilities for its guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambiance.” This promise extends beyond mere words, as employees commit to fulfilling even the unexpressed needs of their guests, ensuring that each interaction is imbued with a sense of genuine care and attention to detail.

Service Values: More Than Inspirational Phrases

The Ritz-Carlton’s Twelve Service Values remind employees that true hospitality results from long-term commitments by staff who perform their tasks with passion and pride. These values are actionable principles that guide daily operations. Statements such as “I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience,” and “I own and immediately resolve guest problems” are ingrained into the company's culture, reinforcing the importance of exceeding guest expectations at every turn.

The Three Steps of Service involve offering guests a warm and sincere greeting by name, anticipating and meeting their needs, and bidding them a fond farewell, again using their name. These steps are meticulously followed to create a personalized and memorable experience for each guest, enhancing their overall satisfaction and loyalty to the brand.

The Employee Promise: Fostering a Supportive Work Environment

The company views its employees as its most valuable asset. “At The Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests,” the Employee Promise indicates. “By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity, and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.” This promise underscores the company’s dedication to fostering a supportive and enriching work environment where employees can thrive and grow both personally and professionally.

As all Ritz-Carlton staffers act as brand ambassadors, the company takes the selection process very seriously. Candidates must be sociable, caring, interested in learning, and have the spirit to serve. “We don’t hire for technical talent but natural talent,” says a Ritz-Carlton General Manager. This approach ensures that the natural talent that makes the Ritz-Carlton difference is at the forefront.

Empowerment: Enabling Exceptional Service

One of Ritz-Carlton’s service values states, “I am empowered to create unique, memorable, and personal experiences for our guests.” The company understands that the best way to deliver on these values is to trust its employees with decision-making authority. Every employee, from housekeeping to management, can spend up to $2,000 per guest, per day, to resolve a problem without asking permission from a supervisor. This empowerment is not just about handling problems; it extends to all aspects of customer service.

This sense of ownership translates into a more proactive approach to service, where employees are constantly looking for ways to improve the guest experience. Without empowered employees, customers must work their way up the chain of command and repeat their story to several people before getting their problem solved. By empowering employees to address issues on the spot, Ritz-Carlton ensures that guests receive prompt and effective resolutions, enhancing their overall experience.

Innovation and Collaboration: Sharing Best Practices

With properties around the world, the Ritz-Carlton has a strong need to ensure their best practices are spread companywide. The hotel group’s innovation database allows employees to share tried and tested ideas that improve guest experience. This database includes over 1,000 innovative practices, each tested on a property before contributing to the system. This system fosters a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration across all Ritz-Carlton locations.

Borrowing Best Practices: The Apple Connection

Ask the average person which tech company offers the best customer experience, and Apple often comes to mind. Steve Jobs, inspired by the exceptional service at Ritz-Carlton, sent his future Apple store managers to the Ritz-Carlton hospitality training. These techniques set the foundation for Apple stores, transforming them into not just retail spaces but experiences in themselves. The personalized attention and proactive service found at Ritz-Carlton are mirrored in the Apple store experience. My mom recently switched to an Apple iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch from an Apple Store. The transition was seamless for her. Everything just works, and they all work together effortlessly.

Striving for Excellence

Every company should strive to become the Ritz-Carlton of their industry. Establishing precise  service standards, ensuring that good practices spread companywide, and engaging and empowering employees will help you create a customer experience to brag about. Ritz-Carlton’s daily 15-minute sessions to discuss core values ensure that leadership is earned by reinforcing their values and attitudes on a daily basis. This is the only way to ensure that values are transferred into actions and behavior throughout the organization.

“Values ground an organization… providing direction for people who find themselves in ambiguous situations. They are critical guides for making decisions.”

— Bud Bilanich

Core values are the foundation on which an organization's success is built. By adopting and reinforcing these core values, companies can build a strong foundation for success, just like the Ritz-Carlton.

Subscribe to get my Email Newsletter
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.