Corporate culture is the most powerful tool that an organization has to shape the behavior within the organization.

Anytime humans get together – a culture happens. If business owners and executives don’t create and assign a corporate culture – it will happen by default around the water cooler.

About 400 executives and business owners attended a Disney Institute Approach to Business Excellence full-day seminar yesterday, at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, to learn about improving their business. Pikes Peak Community College was a promotional partner.

“When somebody joins our family – our organization – then we have to share those symbols and traditions of our culture,” said Maggie Prince, a Disney Institute facilitator. Executives who want loyal employees with “emotional buy-in” with their company will take specific steps to change corporate culture.

Heritage and traditions make people feel like they’re part of something bigger. The language that executives use to refer to employees and customers makes a difference in the attitudes of both. For instance, at Disney, employees are called “cast members,” because they are playing a role of entertaining to create happiness; and customers are called “guests” – because they receive special treatment and service. Language changes perception and the way people treat one another.

Symbols should also be part of a company’s brand and used to create an emotional link between employees and their company.

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Once business owners identify what they want their corporate culture to be, they must reinforce it with key steps, said Tom Madden, a manager at the Disney Institute.

“At Disney, we recognize employees for guest satisfaction, performance, behaviors and longevity,” Madden said.

One thing they don’t give recognition for any longer is perfect attendance.

“We encourage that balance piece,” he said. Rather than having employees come to work when they’re sick – “we want them to know we will get a long without them when they’re not up to it.”

Three key strategies for care of employees are: Treat your employees like customers; promote a supportive environment; and reward employees and celebrate with them.

The bottom line for reinforcing a supportive corporate culture is very simple. Treat your employees they way they want to be treated – as individuals – not the way you want to be treated.


  1. Rebecca –

    Great post! It was a very good event packed with professionals who got in lots of networking time. One really beneficial note for me was to hear things I already knew but don’t think about often enough. I’d go again!

  2. I also attended courtesy of my company. I learned alot and got a day off of the usual routine. Id go back if it comes back to Colorado

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