Originally published in September 16th 2017.
Before packing all your stuff for your travel to a faraway country, first and foremost you study about that country’s culture. For example, if you are from Europe and you are planning for a wonderful trip to Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia in your whole three summer months, do you read about culture there, a completely different world in comparison to your hometown, your country, and even your continent? You probably read about the most visible aspects of culture from religion, beliefs, politics, people’s behaviours, food, and traditional customs, to the smallest details in the daily life of people in that region, such as basic traffic regulations and culinary styles. Learning other cultures and adapt ourselves to them is a distinct of humankind, although it’s not compulsory. That’s why Saint Ambrose in the 4th century said that “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.
The similar thing happens in case you are going to a new workplace. Any organisation has its own working style that we call “work culture”. An active and scientific work culture is the foundation of employee quality, explaining why businesses with the most inspiring work cultures are often the ones those are most successful in their fields. By googling, you can easily read “success stories” behind work culture of the outstanding players, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Southwest Airlines or Twitter. Those companies have their own ways to build up a healthy work culture that motivates employees to perform their best, to follow the “successful path”, and to accept unwritten rules and principles.
It is the work culture which decides the way employees interact with each other and how an organization functions. Work culture plays an important role in extracting the best out of employees and making them stick to the organization for a longer duration. The organization must offer a positive ambience to the employees for them to concentrate on their work rather than interfering in each other’s work. An organization is said to have a strong work culture when the employees follow the organization’s rules and regulations and adhere to the existing guidelines. However there are certain organizations where employees are reluctant to follow the instructions and are made to work only by strict procedures. Such organizations have a weak culture.
Let’s examine together Zappos.com, an online shoe and clothing shop based in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On a trip to Las Vegas, Carmine Gallo, the author of the bestselling Fire Them Up! 7 Simple secrets of inspiring leaders, had an interesting talk with Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh about the principles that drive his culture. A outstanding feature that Carmine realised at first sight is that everyone at Zappos, from the receptionists to to center operators, represents the company brand. After that, the author himself learned a valuable lesson from Hsieh about building a winning corporate culture.
- Treat everyone like family. This attitude must start from the top of the organization. Leaders must demonstrate through their actions that every customer counts and each customer’s experience must be first rate. Empower your staff to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations in every interaction.
- Hire for cultural fit.Zappos looks for people who have fun with others. Now “weirdness” works for Zappos but it might not be consistent with your brand’s values. That’s okay. What’s important to remember is that once you determine what your brand stands for, hiring for cultural fit will ensure that each employee passionately demonstrates your company's brand values through the way they talk and act.
- Trust your team. Zappos customer service representatives are not required to follow a script and do not have to abide by time limits on their calls. Their only mission is to “wow” the customer and create an emotional connection with them. Remember that simple gestures can guarantee a customer for life. Hsieh only directs employees to “wow” their customers. Customer service isn’t brain surgery. It is simply courtesy, common sense, and the desire to treat everyone -- customers, partners and employees -- like family.
- Share everything. All information is shared daily with employees -- average call times, sales, profits, etc. In fact, Zappos is so open with their performance information that they post it on a board for all to see, employees and outsiders. Zappos reached more than one billion in sales in 2009 because they trust their employees to do the right thing for the customer.
- Have fun!Bill Conaty, a former HR Vice President for GE, wrote for BusinessWeek, said “Employees shouldn’t feel that it’s wrong to appear to be having fun at the risk of their superiors thinking they’re not serious enough.” This has never been an issue at Zappos where fun only becomes a problem when employees are not having it.
An organization is formed to achieve certain goals and objectives by bringing individuals together on a common platform and motivating them to deliver their level best. It is essential for the employees to enjoy the workplace, for them to develop a sense of loyalty towards it. If you are a manager, it’s your choice to build a healthy work culture and use it as a foundation of your business’ success and sustainability. If you are an employee, following and adapting yourself to your work culture is the most fundamental thing to guarantee all other things run well at work.