Does your company have Culture Ambassadors?

By May 20, 2014All

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How would you describe your company culture in a few sentences? What would you say? If you asked your peers to do the same, how similar or different it would be?

Almost every company measures their employee engagement through employee surveys- A typical question and answer template about the management team and the company culture.

It gives the company employees a voice.  

It’s a bird’s eye view of the culture from the employee perspective- not what’s written on the walls or any company handbook.

If you have been a manager or a leader for some time now, you know how critical these surveys are to the overall company level of engagement. This is a yardstick of your day to say leadership and whether your company culture is alive and kicking.

Most of employees “reviews” and feedback about the company’s leadership and culture are kept within the organization. Good or bad, it’s part of the Human Resources office’s vault with the possibility of maybe few people mentioning a word or two outside the company.

But just imagine what it would be like if your company shared those comments and feedback to the entire world in a book format??? Sounds very risky right?

Well, the online shoe and clothing shop Zappos created a Culture Book that comes out every year with their employees “reviews” about the company culture.

Zappos is considered to be one of the top companies in the world in customer service. They pride themselves not only of being a shoe and clothing company, but creating a fun, engaging place to work. Zappos customers are raving fans. If you ever speak with their customer, chances are it will be very positive.

There are hundreds of stories about their outstanding customer service, including delivering flowers to a customer whose mom passed away and talking to a customer for over 8 hours (a record that now has been broken).

The Zappos culture book was born out of conversations about five years after Zappos inception.  The company 10 core values weren’t fully established yet. But the book brought out the intangible values that each and every employee felt at the time about working for the company.

They wanted to focus on creating a strong company culture and ensuring onboarding people who are culture-fit into the Zappos philosophy. zappos_culture

These conversations included new hires who gave a quick insight with three to four sentences about the company culture.

After these conversations, the company leadership wanted all of their employee to tell the Zappos culture story in their own writing through a culture book.

Every edition of the culture book includes both good and bad since they wanted complete transparency. It also includes the company vendors and customers perspectives.

The idea was very simple. They would ask the employees to write, in a few sentences, “What does the Zappos culture mean to you?” Except for correcting typos, they would leave every comment unedited.

Sounds crazy right? Well it worked out pretty well for them, which in return created culture ambassadors across every level of the company. In fact, that’s part of their success stories about creating one of the most recognized customer service companies in the world.

Here is an example that really illustrates how their employees are engaged:

In the 2010 Zappos Culture Book, Kaila T. an employee at Zappos since 2007, writes:

“….Zappos started to teach me life lessons. Our Ten Core Values are ten life lessons that I learned the very first day. There are few that I value most, for example, Core value #5, Pursue growth and learning. This is something that I’m constantly doing with my life….”

 As a leader are you willing to take such a risk and create your company culture book? What would your employees, peers and customers say in a few sentences about your culture and leadership?

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