June 2012 Newsletter

What is Your Company Culture?

I was in Las Vegas in May to attend the LightFair expo. I took time to schedule a tour of the Zappos office and call center in Henderson - south-eastern Las Vegas valley. Wow!

I have always worked for smaller companies, as an employee, independent sales rep and owner. The only exception was my time in the Navy in Vietnam, and even then I was in a very small command and my work was fairly independent.

Before my visit to Zappos I had never considered how to define and maintain "company culture." I have verbal guidelines for our 4specs' sales people, but no written plan. I had not ever considered how to develop and maintain a company culture across 1,900 employees - 500 in the Zappos call center and the rest in IT and administration in Henderson and the warehouse 1,800 miles away.

Quoting from the Zappos 2011 Culture Book (more about this below)

Alex T. - Zappos' UPS representative - "First, the unique, great Zappos Culture delivers happy employees. Compared to the cultures at my other client's companies, only Zappos empowers employees to deliver WOW through service."

Wow it is. I had a similar Wow experience when I had to order a replacement part for our Moen faucet. The woman on the Moen phone line knew exactly what I needed - the part was not on the exploded diagram online - and mailed me the 2 parts.

Recognition and Rewards - The zappos Way
[Links broken]

From one of the comments in the first link above:

To me that's the key thing here... they don't mess around and "hope" someone will fit in. Regardless of the person's performance history - culture is first and foremost. Too often companies hire someone with a big resume and forget that they still need to get along and advance the core culture of the company. Thanks for weighing in. [emphasis added]

Read about the Zappos story: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Read about the Zappos Core Values. [Amazon link]

On your next trip to Las Vegas, schedule a tour to visit the call center. Read the book before you go to better understand the tour.

After the tour they gave us a copy of the Happiness book and their 2011 Culture Book. Once I read the Happiness book I understood the Culture Book - the employees get to write about their experiences and thoughts, including their vendors and suppliers. This encourages their employees to understand and live the company culture. This gives prospective employees an idea of what working for Zappos would be like.

There are longer tours available, where you can talk with key people about how they hire, manage and motivate, train for leadership and longevity. I understand that Disney World has a similar program.



Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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