Lessons learned about culture

Lessons learned about culture

Lessons learned about culture

Yesterday was a magnificent day. I’ve met with Jenn Lim, the chief happiness officer (funny coincidence) at Delivering Happiness, in a breakfast seminar I was involved with. Delivering Happiness is a movement, these days also a business, which can quite rightly be described as a spin off of Zappos, the online shoe (and more) company sold to Amazon a while back ago. The movement is about the mission of Zappos: Delivering happiness to people. If you’re not familiar with it, I highly recommend checking it out.

Have you read the book, by the way? If you haven’t I highly recommend that as well. English version >> | Finnish version >>

#1 PRIORITY: CULTURE

Get things right and all else flows,Jenn Lim.

Based on research, Jenn says, culture and higher purpose make long term sustainable brands. We often get asked, how to make sure you have the right culture. Your culture is right, if it makes people happy, committed and deliver good work. Understanding what your culture is requires doing some digging. Once you are clear about the core values (not the list of items on the wall you call values) and what type of behaviour gets rewarded or leads to dismissal, you know what your culture is about. After this, being pretty damn sure you select only people who connect with your culture and values and lead them systematically based on your values and culture, as Jenn says, all else flows.

There’s few things Zappos does with new employees in order to secure the culture match:

  • Recruitment criteria is based on culture
  • There’s a 4000 buck offer to quit anytime
    • And not enough people are taking it and it gets really expensive when wrong people stay
  • 5 week training at the beginning including 2 weeks at customer service for any job to understand the customers’ stand point
  • Zappos Culture Book as a guide book
LIVING BY THE VALUES

Zappos’ values are selected by their people. It took a year to come up with the list of 10 core values and the road there involved everyone in the organisation. Jenn’s favourite values from the list are:

Be humble. And this is the hardest thing to adhere. As you get successful, everything runs smoothly, it’s hard not to get a stick stuck in your a**. However, Zappos has a great way of testing this. All people coming to interviews are shuttled by Zappos driver and get in contact with various other people on the way to the interview. Part of the selection process is to have the driver, receptionist, cleaner and so on to tell how they were treated. If the candidate has in anyway been disrespectful to any of them he/she will not be hired.

I personally love this value as it is one of the core values in my life, in my previous work place and in my companies now. You just treat others how like to be treated yourself.

Create fun and weirdness. Apparently there is a test in selection at Zappos asking on the scale of 1-10, how weird are you. It’s about how you react to this and how important it is for you to be yourself. It’s an awesome value as you must feel connected and “at home” at work, otherwise there’s no alignment.

LESSONS LEARNED

#1 Commitment

Every person you hire changes the dynamics of the team and the company. Choose wrong and things start to flow to the wrong direction. Getting people to commit and connect with your culture, how you want your people to behave, is critical.

#2 Core values

You cannot (as a manager/director/CEO) decide what your values are and expect everyone to share them. Those are your personal values. The best way is to do this early one, choose values that everyone in the company feel strongly about and share, and decide on those. Once they are decided on, selections, rewards and dismissals go accordingly.

#3 Transparency

Even in the hardest of times, you must tell what’s going on, why and what you’re going to do about it. Simple as that.

#4 Vision

Vision is the inspiration for your people about the direction your taking. It’s the purpose of coming to work every day. Without a purpose, well, there’s no meaning and we all know we rather do meaningful things. According to Jenn, 75% people feel disengaged from work in the US. That’s a terrible about of unproductivity going on.

#5 Relationships

Everything is about relationships. Meaningful relationships between people become a source of happiness at work place. Once you are interested in a co worker, not because you share the same employer, but because you like each other, the relationship becomes meaningful. It’s important to encourage people to spend time together outside work also.

#6 Right teams

Hire slowly, fire quickly, is what Jenn says. It’s important to align the right people together as even just one person can change the dynamics of the workplace and effect the motivation and happiness of co workers in a bad way. If there’s now fit, you gotta do everyone a favour and get rid of him/her.

This type of thinking system has made Zappos a very valuable business. And there are many other companies who live like this, by their own accord. Many of those are known from Great Place to Work -lists. And many comparisons have been made on the financial figures of these companies as opposed to those who really don’t give a damn. The numbers speak an ugly truth to those who don’t give damn. That’s all I’m saying. Read the book, it’s very inspiring.

 

 

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