Long before I was seduced by marketing’s vivacious curves, I spent the better half of my academic years studying organizational communication and culture. I had the pleasure of rekindling this crush at the Silverpop Client Summit where the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, gave a keynote presentation on his company’s core values and keys to success (Hsieh sold Zappos to Amazon last year for $1.2 billion dollars). The man is brilliant, and if you get a chance to see him speak or read his book “Delivering Happiness”, do it.
For this post, I thought I would share a few of his corporate culture beliefs I know you’ll fall in love with.
1) Company culture trumps customer service
While delivering “wow” in every customer service interaction is a hallmark at Zappos.com, Hsieh admits that company culture is the number 1 priority for Zappos.com. In fact, when hiring, regardless of how impeccable a candidate’s work ethic or knowledge skill set may be, it is character that is always the deal breaker. Hsieh credits “hiring for culture” is the single most compelling reason for his success. “We interview people for culture fit. We want people who are passionate about what Zappos is about—service. I don’t care if they are passionate about shoes.” As we have all experienced, it only takes one person to poison a positive culture so each candidate’s attitude and character is scrutinized above all else. Once hired, to help influence culture, each employee goes through 5 weeks of standardized training (as I recall, I had around 5 hours). Every new employee is given a culture book, a twitter account and, regardless of position, spends 2 of those 5 weeks on the phone taking customer service phone calls. Finally, to ensure everyone who is hired is there because they truly want to be, each new team member is offered $2,000 to quit at any time from their first day of training up to a few weeks into their job. Now that’s bold!
2) Inspiration trumps motivation
While managers are looking for someone who is motivated, Hsieh argues that what we really should be looking for someone who finds inspiration in their work. Motivation ebbs and flows depending goals, projects, and deadlines but those who are inspired by their company and their job will consistently work more passionately and with more purpose. Hire for talent and let them apply that talent every day. Additionally, inspiration can grow through the vision and culture of a company. A culture that lives those core values in it’s practices, procedures, and trainings is catalyst for organic grown inspiration.
3) No core values. No strong culture.
In order for a company to have strong culture, Hsieh claims a company must have committable core values, whatever those values happen to be. They need to be more than a banner in the office or a card pinned up in a cube. Check out this list of traits he looks for in prospective hires:
1. Deliver WOW through service
2. Embrace and drive change
3. Create fun and a little weirdness
4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
5. Pursue growth and learning
6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
7. Build a positive team and family spirit
8. Do more with less
9. Be passionate and determined
10. Be humble
These traits line up to the type of core values and company culture that Hsieh desires and they may be completely different for you. The bottom line is figuring out what your company values are and then committing to them, meaning that you are willing to fire and hire people based on those values.
Are company values as important to your organization? Do you think he places too much emphasis on values?