You might heard of company called Zappos. Zappos sells shoes (and actually a lot more) – but the CEO and founder Tony Hsieh says Zappos is Customer service company that just happens to sell shoes. Shoes or not, Zappos has become legend in company culture and as value based company. Company values play an important role in Zappos. Amazon acquired Zappos 2009 with 1.2 billion dollars. Amazon has done nothing to change Zappos. It still runs with its own culture and it works well.
Tony Hsieh has built Zappos on top of core company values.
There is nothing new in company values. Most of the companies have values defined. Every new CEO brings new values. I have seen that dozen times. Setting up company values is easy, but how to spread your values in organization? You can preach and lecture and even make people to remember your values, but if they don’t believe in them, what is the value of values?
Honestly, I have not seen any successful change of values during my career. I have seen progress, but it always stops to the people who have been working in the company for years. If you want to change values, it will take years, and not many companies have that time. CEOs, managers and even the workforce comes and goes.
Connect your company values with your business and people
Usually values don’t turn to business model and they don’t connect with the people who work in the company. Employees don’t see the connection in their daily work.
Employees need to believe in the values and the values need to connect to business so that acting with the values every day connect to business, and it turns to money.
Recruit based on the values
Zappos has started to recruit people with their values in the beginning. They only hire people who are inline with their values. Their whole interview process aims to find people with the value match.
Setting right values is easy, only if you have been able to do it from the beginning.
The problem is how to keep up company with people who have values inline and how to turn company with existing values (defined or not) to something new.
Zappos has few straightforward ways to make sure company values stick.
1. Zappos offers money for new employees to quit
Zappos offers money after new employees have stayed with the company some time. They pay them to leave. It is a test to see if employees want to stay with Zappos. Some take the money and leave. It is a good push to make them think what they want.
Some companies do the same when they want to cut people, but what if the motivation would be value reformat? Pay people to leave. Would you have the people who really like to work with you OR people who are not able to take risks?
2. Zappos fires people who are not match for the culture
..even if they are talented.
I wonder how and who makes the decision ..but I agree. If you set company and majority first, you should fire people who cause problems. Not people who cause problems for their bosses or other individuals, but people who cause problems for the culture.
“We believe that it’s really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you’re willing to hire and fire based on them.” — Tony Hsieh
You cannot deny the success of zappos. And customer service is really value based business. Values Implemented with Zappos way will work. But values need to be right and concrete enough to fit your area of business.
However, Recruiting is difficult and exhausting. If you have a company full of talented people and good people, but the values are missing and would need reshaping. What to do?
Why not to form teams based on values? Find people with same values and form teams from people who clearly share shame values. Why?
For team members – It is really pleasure to work with people who share the same values and attitude than you – and it is really exhausting to work with people who have completely opposite values than you. So, why putting people together whose values fit – so that at least part of the company enjoys the culture and right values.
You will probably create few high performing teams, many decent teams and few badly performing. Perhaps, you then know what to do? And choose Zappos way to maintain your company culture.
..and yes. What are the core values of Zappos? Here they are:
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
Not so spectacular?
picture credit flickr charlie llewellin