In this blog, I want to reflect upon organizational culture with the specific case of the Taj (hotel) in mind. The focus is on the culture within an organization. An organizational culture is the combination of many factors. For example songs, dress code, how people behave and interact with each other, language and so on. Everything in an organization affects and is affected by organizational culture.
One definition of organizational culture is “the set of value, norms, guiding beliefs and understandings that is shared by members of an organization, and is taught to new members.” In my opinion, this definition is quite vague and broad, but the truth is that there is no clear definition of what organizational culture is. The importance of organizational culture, however, is not to be underestimated, although the importance can vary from organization to organization.
The Taj is for me a good example of an organization with a strong culture and a clear ideology. Happiness, grand, iconic and quality is typical associations with the Taj. One of the key values is that they shall be open to all. They recruit people from the lower range of the community in India that really need the job. I think this is amazing and it really contributes to a better society. The best part is that it is not charity. They do not hire these people just because it is a good thing to do, they do it because it is a good business strategy. By hiring these people and training them thoroughly for a long period, they get extremely loyal and dedicated employees. In just about every business course that I have had, I hear the following sentence; “Employees can never be a competitive advantage”. Their argument is that employees are unpredictable and they can leave at any time to work for someone else. I agree with them in most cases, but not all. In the case of the Taj, I am so blunt to say that I completely disagree. What I have learned by analyzing Taj’s culture is that it is so strong that it is in fact a competitive advantage. Their employees is a competitive advantage.
The terrorist attack at the Taj was horrible and extreme, but also the perfect way to find out how loyal and dedicated the employees at the Taj are. No humans can really know how they will act in such a situation before they are actually in one. The employees were not prepared for such a situation and yet they did an amazing job. They risked their lives for their guests and remained calm and professional under extreme pressure. They did not have to do it, but they did. I believe Taj is one of very few organizations in the world where the employees would do such a good job, and risk their lives for their guests. They proved their utmost loyalty and extreme dedication in the ultimate test. The value of such employees is exceptional and hard to put a number on.
I believe that organizations can learn a lot from the Taj. By creating such a strong organizational culture, organizations could evolve to become much greater than they are today. Investing much resources in their employees, like the Taj have done, and creating a strong loyalty bond between employer and employees can be of much value. An employee at the Taj would probably not accept another job with a higher salary. In todays business environment it is in general not much loyalty between employer and employee. Employers typically downsize and fire employees for almost no reason at all and employees quit their job when they get a better offer somewhere else without a minute’s hesitation. The loyalty bond is almost nonexistent, and I believe it is a problem. In order to get world class employees, organizations need to invest much resources, time and effort. This is not profitable if the employees are not loyal and leave after a short amount of time. To implement long-term strategies and get great employers, organizations need a strong and functional organizational culture. The Taj is a good example. Other organizations should strive to get it as well.
Multimedia: Terror at the Taj
http://www.npr.org/2011/12/23/144184623/mumbai-terror-attacks-the-heroes-of-the-taj-hotel (Interesting about the Employees at the Taj)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQGz1YRqBPw(TedX, Rohit Deshpande. Talking about the Heroes of the Taj in the terrorist-attack. Amazing video, but devastating)