American Underground

Happy Customers Start with Happy Employees

Happy Customers Start with Happy Employees

Hilton Exec. Phil Cordell shares his approach to company culture


Culture is not just a buzzword. It can be one of your most important profit drivers. Hilton executive Phil Cordell stopped by American Underground to discuss how he came to appreciate the value of culture, and how Hilton has leveraged the power of culture to create engaged employees and happy customers. Phil shared three rules and three myths about company culture with the AU teams:

Phil’s Rules of Culture

① Culture can’t be scripted — Scripting culture forces employees to be fake and insincere. Instead, give them cultural guidelines from which to operate and let them use their own personal strengths to demonstrate those ideals.

② Culture must flow through the organization’s chain of influence — Every company has a chain of influence. Many times it begins with leadership at the top and ends with the customer. Who are the major players who influence or are influenced by your brand? Make sure messages and actions around your company’s culture make it to each of these links in your chain so they can, in turn, positively influence the links they’re connected to.

③ Make culture a movement — Your culture has to grow within your company in order to continue to be influential. Make your team members feel like they play a crucial role in the execution of your business, and invest in ways for them to sharpen their skills.

Myths about Culture

① Culture is only internal — Wrong! Culture is not just what you do within your organization, but also the special touches you give customers, and the opportunities you give them to provide feedback on their experiences.

② Culture requires command and control — False! This goes back to the idea that “Culture can’t be scripted.” Culture works best when you allow your chains of influence to bring their best selves to their job.

③ Culture won’t translate Not true! While there are different customs and norms associated with different demographics and geographies, if you focus on the basics, culture can still translate across these differences.

Check out Phil Cordell’s Helpfest talk about culture below!

Phillipe Charles
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Phillipe Charles

Phillipe is the Director of Communications & Member Experience at American Underground. He enjoys writing/producing Hip Hop music, playing soccer and repping his Haitian roots!
Phillipe Charles
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