Spotlight on Kimpton Hotels: “Staying true to You”

Spotlight on Kimpton Hotels: “Staying true to You”

As part of our regular Great Conversations series, Great Place To Work recently featured Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. In January Kimpton received the impressive accolade of being named #16 on the 2012 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® list. Equally noteworthy is Kimpton’s ranking jump from the #83 position last year to “sweet 16” in 2012.

How does this unique hotelier, who boasts more than 51 hotels and 56 restaurants in more than 23 cities nationwide, create a culture steeped in shared values that translates to happy clients and financial results?

In our conversation with Leslie Lerude, Vice President of People & Culture, she shared Kimpton’s “secret sauce” for success: “Kimpton prides itself on creating an environment where employees and clients feel they can be themselves,” Lerude said. Kimpton employees universally interpret the company’s mantra “staying true to you,” to mean broadly: “come in and be your best self at work.”

While there was much to take from our conversation with Leslie, I’ve boiled down the following 5 tips that any company can use to create a better workplace.

Tip 1) Have one singular goal that every employee can identify with and contribute to
Kimpton’s #1 wildly important and widely communicated goal is to focus on customer satisfaction. Employees are asked how they, as individuals, contribute to supporting this goal.

Tip 2) Clearly define corporate values and bring those values to life through employee stories.
One of Kimpton’s seven values is “individuality” – Kimpton employees are regularly told that they are free to be themselves. Much like the way each of their properties is one-of-a-kind, their employees are seen and valued as individuals with unique strengths and abilities.

Tip 3) Take the time to focus on building camaraderie and trust among employees.
Perhaps the most striking element of Kimpton’s culture is its self-deprecating sense of humor, which includes employees wrapping toilet paper around their general manager and hula-hooping senior leaders. While these methods are unique to Kimpton, their intentions are universal: to break down the walls between employees and leaders in order to add to a true sense of trust and camaraderie among employees.

Tip 4) Choose programs and initiatives that speak to your employees.
Like many, Kimpton employees want to be part of something bigger than themselves and as a company they achieve this through their social responsibility program. Kimpton carefully selects their charitable initiatives to ensure that employees identify with at least one of them.

Tip 5) Always seek to achieve an open dialogue with employees.
In addition to formal mechanisms that include a 360 review process, Kimpton has informal channels for employees and managers to share perspectives such as quarterly conversations where managers and employees determine their focus points. What’s more, Kimpton General Managers have regular breakfast chats with their hourly employees to discuss what is working and what is not working for the team.

While these tips are illustrated by real-life examples of how Kimpton employs them, the challenge for you is to find your unique way to apply them to your organization. Which of these tips will you be applying?