For any business to survive in the short term, you need tangible results like sales, services, revenue and profit. For long-term success, companies can create a foundation for the future when they create a culture of excellence.

To get a better idea of what that means, we spoke with Bruce Loeffler, a customer service expert and workplace culture consultant whose decade at Disney World included being The Walt Disney Co.’s first Service Excellence Coordinator. A culture of excellence, Loeffler said, emphasizes standards and expectations, as well as staff development, contribution, and, ultimately, satisfaction.

Why a Culture of Excellence?

“I think that everything evolves from culture, good or bad,” Loeffler said. “If your culture stinks, then you have got leadership that is not doing their job.”

Loeffler added that a culture of excellence “sets the standard of who we are, what our history is and who we want to be to the public. It is imperative that everyone understands and delivers them on a daily basis.”

Initial training helps orient new employees to that culture, and in some cases weeds out those who will not be able to adapt. Ongoing training is essential to reinforce these standards. “Without these transparent expectations, we do not have a culture of excellence,” Loeffler said.

In addition, these standards should be integrated into meetings and reinforced multiple times throughout the year in the form of posters and newsletters.

Leadership’s Role in Workplace Culture

“The C-suite are the ones who set the tone,” Loeffler said. Every leader is and must be an example. The job of managers, supervisors and other leaders is to motivate employees to strive for their personal best. They can do this by being personable, caring, and compassionate.

The foundation for any successful organization is trust, Loeffler said. That goes from the C-suite to the employee and vice versa.

“Remember: Courtesy equals Respect,” Loeffler said. “If you are not courteous, then it is obvious that you have little respect or interest in me.”

Employees are Your Greatest Resource

The culture of excellence experience for any company starts with the staff, who can then deliver that level of excellence to customers and guests. That is where training comes in, Loeffler says.

At the same time, people want to feel like what they’re doing matters, and that their leadership cares about them. Unfortunately, Loeffler says, that is not always the case.

“Part of the issue is that executives do not want to hear the bad news,” Loeffler said. “They want to hear that everything is going well and that morale is up, when oftentimes it is not. And employees are screaming that I want someone to pay attention to me and someone to value me and that I am important and that the job I am doing is important.”

Any initiative to improve employee morale should include your current employees. They are a great resource. Make them part of the process.

Putting it all Together

Ultimately, your customers will form an opinion of your organization based on how they are treated. When there is a culture of excellence, your employees do not look at problems as, “not my job.” Blame and excuses are just an excuse for failure, Loeffler says.

Leaders who encourage and develop their employees have a direct impact not only on those people, but on who those people interact with respect to the company.

“Engage with employees and they will in turn engage and be interested in our customers and guests,” Loeffler said.

Bruce Loeffler is the Co-Founder and President of Experience International. He spent 10 years at Disney World, holding several key positions including the first Disney Service Excellence Coordinator. Contact Bruce at bruce@experienceglobal.com.

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