Taking note of the popularity of social sharing, organizations are now looking at adopting new models of working that tap into the collective intelligence of an organization’s networks. To do this, CEOs are showing a growing appetite for technology - specifically social media technology - to infuse more collaboration into everyday business functions.
That single-minded focus on happiness has led to plenty of accolades for the company, which routinely scores high on lists of the best places to work. But Zappos's approach to workplace bliss differs significantly from that of other employee-friendly businesses. For one thing, Zappos pays salaries that are often below market rates -- the average hourly worker makes just over $23,000 a year. Though the company covers 100 percent of health care costs, employees are not offered perks found at many companies, such as on-site child care, tuition reimbursement, and a 401(k) match.
At many companies, talk of corporate culture dulls the luster, inducing cynicism among employees and creating hours of busywork for managers. At Zappos, the culture is the luster. And Hsieh -- soft-spoken, deliberate, awkward -- has emerged as a most unlikely business guru.
For over a century, corporations have ruled with a top-down mentality. Management experts have long encouraged businesses to set objectives and targets that map to well defined priorities and plans.
But those standards are evolving. The new benchmark of success today is not only to execute with excellence, but to do so while managing rapid change.
Understand the organization's purpose — not just what they say they're doing, but also how their purpose leads to decisions and what makes them proud. Learn how the organization operates. For example, consider the importance of performance, how the organization gets things done, the level of teamwork, the quality of the people, how people communicate, and any ethical issues.
In general, the most fruitful success strategy is to begin with leadership tools, including a vision or story of the future, cement the change in place with management tools, such as role definitions, measurement and control systems, and use the pure power tools of coercion and punishments as a last resort, when all else fails.
Some 27% of bosses believe their employees are inspired by their firm. Alas, only 4% of employees agree. Likewise, 41% of bosses say their firm rewards performance based on values rather than merely on financial results. Only 14% of employees swallow this.
Different people in the same organization can have different perceptions of the culture of the organization. This is especially true regarding the different perceptions between the top and bottom levels of the organization. For example, the Chief Executive may view the organization as being highly focused, well organized and even rather formal. On the other hand, the receptionist might view the organization as being confused, disorganized and, sometimes, even rude.
Culture, like brand, is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely component of business that belongs to HR. It's not intangible or fluffy, it's not a vibe or the office décor. It's one of the most important drivers that has to be set or adjusted to push long-term, sustainable success. It's not good enough just to have an amazing product and a healthy bank balance. Long-term success is dependent on a culture that is nurtured and alive. Culture is the environment in which your strategy and your brand thrives or dies a slow death.
In short, culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn't in the room, which is of course most of the time.
Core beliefs, at the organizational level, operate as a "guidance system" for employees and executives alike. As Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy point out in the groundbreaking book Corporate Cultures, these core beliefs create a "strong system of informal rules that spells out how people are to behave most of the time."
Corporate culture can be looked at as a system. Inputs include feedback from, e.g., society, professions, laws, stories, heroes, values on competition or service, etc. The process is based on our assumptions, values and norms, e.g., our values on money, time, facilities, space and people. Outputs or effects of our culture are, e.g., organizational behaviors, technologies, strategies, image, products, services, appearance, etc.