Merge's Blog

You create the culture in your organization

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – You are a role model. Whether you realize it, whether you want it or want nothing to do with it, you have no choice; you are a role model. Your actions will create your organizational or departmental culture. Your employees look to you for leadership and direction and they will emulate your behaviour. Which means that you better be modeling whatever it is you want them to do and say.

I was reminded of this … in a very positive way … just last week. I was delivering a keynote at the Leadership Symposium for the quintessential Canadian brand Tim Hortons. Not only was it a learning event for their restaurant owners from across the Canada and United States but it was also a celebration and demonstration of what this company does so well – commit fully to people, customer service and community leadership. Tim Hortons proudly proclaims that they touch the lives of hundreds of people in their community. Whether it’s remembering a guest’s order or greeting a guest by name, they bring a personal touch to every guest’s visit. And I unexpectedly, and very pleasantly, discovered this to be true for myself. Let me tell you what happened.

As in many conferences nowadays, participants were encouraged to tweet throughout the event and I got in on the fun. That morning, on my way down to the conference floor in the hotel, I tweeted:

“Mmmmm … Tim Hortons’ coffee. Make mine a double-double please.”

Less than ten minutes later, I was standing in the buffet line-up to pick up some eggs and toast. Imagine my stunned (well gobsmacked might be a better word) surprise when the Director of National Operations Standards, came over with a hot steaming cup of, you guessed it, double-double. “I read your tweet,” he said. “It’s our pleasure to serve you.”

Wow! Wow again! Talk about the personal touch!

And perhaps most importantly, no wonder this company gets it right!! If a senior manager in this organization not only gets what their organization is about BUT ALSO MODELS IT, then no wonder all their employees also get it! There is a reason that Tim Hortons was rated one of the top ten most admired corporate cultures in Canada, and I just got a first-hand taste (or should I say sip :)) of it!

Corporate (or department) culture comes from the top; it comes from you! You are the leader, and you are a role model. Never forget that!

Well? What do you think? Have you seen examples of great corporate culture in action? Or dare I ask – have you seen examples of disasters from the top? Please share.

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