Companies today are increasingly cultivating brand images that reflect their corporate culture. Author Susan Waldman explores Zappos’ cultural values and how it inspires employees to be innovative. The company sells products and has built its reputation on its service. Not surprisingly, their mantra is to deliver happiness.
According to Robert Richman, Zappos’ then strategist director, “If you’re too focused on the results it’s like playing a whole sports game while looking at the score board.” The company’s culture is programmed by values, which drives behavior, which in turn drives actions that produce results. He suggests that corporate leaders should recognize the values that work for them and to use that as a foundation to define their culture. “Hire for it. Train for it, and make sure it’s in every part of your business. That’s what drives results through culture”, says Richman.
When employees are happy it reflects in their work. By extension of this simple culture idea, Zappos’ version of WOW service focuses on treating their customers as people who need to be made to feel happy. Prolonged stress brought on by excessive focus on results is the main culprit to killing off creativity and productivity, and ultimately decimating your culture.
Richman suggests that the ideal way to develop a unique culture for your organization is to study companies that have historically had a great culture, like Disney or Starbucks, and use that knowledge to identify your values. The next step is to commit to practicing your core values. Commitment is the biggest defining factor in determining whether your culture program will succeed.