DTCWW Good to Great Series – #2 Develop a “Care Culture”

[March 28, 2023 – Sandra Beals]

How a hospitality team makes guests feel begins with how each team member is supported by the leadership team. Top performing winery teams have adopted Care Cultures for many years including iconic brands ranging from Cakebread, Trinchero, Wente, Domaine Carneros, and Silver Oak/Twomey, to name a handful. As consumers, we all enjoy spending time in luxury settings where the hospitality team prioritizes guest satisfaction. On the flip side, we have very little patience for hospitality teams who just don’t get it – especially since “time is now the number one commodity”. So, how can a leadership team better support the frontline staff and work to improve guest satisfaction? It’s simple, develop a “Care Culture” – internally and externally. The leadership team needs to communicate care for their staff by developing a care culture from the top down and among co-workers. And once an internal care culture is established, this same culture needs to be extended externally to club members, long-time brand loyalists, referral partners, vendors, etc.

What is a “Care Culture” – you say?

Definition from Business Leadership Today

A caring culture is an organizational culture in which leaders consistently act in ways that help team members to thrive, and team members consistently act in ways that help other team members to thrive. As a result, the organization is able to care very well for customers. To create a culture where everyone on the team is committed to helping each other reach their fullest potential and experience real personal growth, the leaders must consistently model caring behaviors.

Why is it important to develop a “Care Culture” today?

This post pandemic period has forced winery owners and executive teams to look outside of the industry to fill open positions due to the staff shortages across most wine regions nationally. We have certainly gotten “creative” with cross-training programs as retirees, real estate professionals, part-time teachers, and seasoned cruise ship staff have transitioned to the wine industry this past year. With that said, it is more important than ever for these same business leaders to invest in holistic training programs that prioritize employee retention. A Care Culture is an essential component of any well thought out employee onboarding program today.

In his book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Simon Sinek tells us, “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

Leadership is about more than being “in charge” of people. It is about leading in an authentic way and being in the unique and wonderful position to demonstrate care towards those you lead. If you take good care of your team, it will benefit every aspect of your winery business. 

In a 2022 study on Strengthening Workplace Culture, conducted by Society for Human Resource Management, 9464 employees were surveyed. These were some key findings:

  • 9 out of 10 employees (91%) who rate their workplace culture as good say they can trust their supervisor.
  • This rating drops to 59% among employees who rate their workplace culture as average.
  • This same rating plummets to less than 1 out of 4 employees (24%) among those who rate their workplace culture as poor.

Winery leadership and human resource teams are rethinking the WHY behind New Employee Onboarding Programs and Employee Handbooks as the staff shortage crisis continues. I hope that you find the below tips helpful as your respective winery teams begin this very important work.

Top 3 Tips for Developing a “Care Culture” – Internally:

#1 Identify the needs/gaps by interviewing or surveying key members of each department

#2 Agree on the purpose/principles based on company values

#3 Share in the development/monitoring processes to get buy in from key stakeholders

Top 3 Tips for Developing a “Care Culture” – Externally:

#1 Identify the needs/gaps by interviewing or surveying key consumers from each segment

#2 Communicate why/how your winery business and staff cares in meaningful ways (personalize)

#3 Involve wine brand loyalists in the care culture through service projects, brand ambassador programs, etc.  

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