Is the Culture Monster Eating Your Team Alive?

By Ron Tate

Is the Culture Monster eating your best people for breakfast and then spitting them out into your competitor’s workforce?  Is he eating your best leads and holding your closing ratios down below the 35% that your team is truly capable of?  Are your current rescission rates tolerable? Is he causing the rest of your organization to resent your sales team?


If the answer to any of these questions is yes, addressing your business culture as a key component of your business strategy could be the most profitable venture you’ve ever undertaken.   Harvard Business School research indicates that your business culture is directly correlated to your sales, recruiting and retention, shareholder value and bottom line.


If any of the above challenges exist in your world, cutting to the chase of defining what corporate culture really is will be a great beginning for you and your team.  While every leader talks about business culture, it seems to mean something different to all who discuss it.  A couple of high category Google definitions should resonate with your struggles as well your successes:


  • “The shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature.” Google: Encyclopedia of Business Terms
  • “The beliefs and ideas that a company has and the way in which they affect how it does business and how its employees behave.” Google: Cambridge English Dictionary


Bottom-line, Business Culture is the beliefs that your people hold that govern how they behave at work.  If someone believes “My boss is a jerk and I hate them,” they’ll behave totally differently than someone who believes the opposite.  If they believe that it’s normal for 30% of your closed deals to rescind, then they’ll actually unconsciously say and do things that maintain high rescission rates.  If they believe that you can’t trust the sales team and they are spoiled rotten, then they will of course behave accordingly.


Andrew Gennuso, President and CEO of Great Destinations Inc. of Lake Forest California, shared in a February 2018 Resort Trades article that “a corporate leader’s most important responsibility is to provide a culture of opportunity.”


After being around the resort industry for most of my career, it’s become apparent to me that Business Culture is the key factor in the success or failure of any resort team.


Frequently, businesses become so immersed in their existing cultural environment that they can’t see how to elevate the performance of their management and staff.  When we try to improve our team’s culture by imposing a set of rules and guidelines, it never works (especially if you have millennials on your team). That’s where a consultant with experience and a proven track record in influencing and introducing change can be invaluable.


I recently came in contact with a Seattle firm that has been researching and serving startups to Fortune 500’s, helping them build cultures of opportunity that out perform their competitors, for 4 decades.  Their research and experience resonated with my 30 years of battle scars struggling with trying to identify missing keys to high performance in our industry.


One example of how a consultant can help direct the transformation of a company was demonstrated by Delphi Automotive in Saginaw, Michigan, and the United Auto Workers Union.  “The data speaks for itself,” says Excellent Cultures Managing Director Steve Gandara. After working with the two groups, Delphi Automotive was able to increase their bottom line over $5.5 million in 20 short months of cost savings. During the same period they recognized a 60 percent reduction in scrap and reduced union grievances by 76 percent.”


To identify where your team may be missing the high performance culture train let’s take a shot at Business Culture Pop Quiz:




Most leaders who believe that “We have a pretty good culture around here,” have an Excellent Culture?

The answer of course is FALSE.   According to research and data validation, leaders who believe that they have an excellent culture, typically have the worst.




An Excellent (High Performance) Culture is one where:


  1. Corporate values are well defined and posted everywhere
  2. The working environment is warm, comfortable and inviting
  3. All employees can recite the corporate mission statement
  4. Millennials love to work there
  5. Employee engagement scores are high
  6. Employees are loyal, happy and trust each other
  7. All of the above
  8. None of the above


If you answered anything other than “H. None of the above” you missed it again.

While items “A-F” are all important, they are fruits not roots.  Your team could have the highest engagement scores on the planet, be a millennial friendly magnet, all recite the corporate mission statement in unison, love and trust each other immensely and still drive you out of business.


According to Seattle based Excellent Cultures, Inc., Cultures of Opportunity and High Performance are totally dependent on what your people truly believe about 10 Fundamental Areas:


  1. Change and Innovation
  2. Accountability
  3. Role Clarity
  4. Handling Problems and Emergencies
  5. Efficiency and Results
  6. Leadership & Leadership Development
  7. Their Potential and Their Goals
  8. Teamwork
  9. Competition
  10. Problem Solving


While time and space prohibits exploring each of these in depth, let’s take a look at some of the applications:


  1. Do your people see change as a painful experience that they must avoid and endure or as an adventure and opportunity to excel and win?


  1. Do they view accountably as something that managers force down the throats of employees or something that team members raise their hands and ask to be held to as their contribution to the success of the team?


  1. Are they the NFL team in the pre-season competing against each other to see who’ll win the starting position or are they the same team in the post season galvanized and pulling together while passionately competing against the opposing team with all that’s within them?


  1. Do they view their potential to achieve and perform as limited and tapped out or unlimited and continuously increasing and expanding like Olympic Athletes?


  1. Do they believe that problems and fire drills are just a “normal part of our business” so they tolerate them or is everyone on the team from the lowest to the highest all about solving them before they explode?


Whether you use an outside consultant or not,  the depth of these 10 core beliefs determines whether your team excels or is stagnate, expands or expires, stays the length of their careers or jumps from resort to resort stealing intellectual property as they go and much more.


If you’re curious about where your business culture stands, invest 10 minutes and complete the complimentary Business Culture MRI simply by clicking the “NEXT” button at


This assessment can be completed in less than 10 minutes on a complimentary basis and will benchmark your actual business culture against both your vision as well as the world’s best.



Ron Tate is a Resort Industry seasoned veteran with over 30 years involvement working with many of the industry’s best developers and owners.