Let’s play a little word – association game today. I want to ask you a quick question and without thinking about it, I want you to respond as fast as you can with the first thing that pops into your head. Everyone ready? Ok. What’s the first company that comes to mind when you think of “awesome corporate culture?” Go!
For me, the answer to this question was Apple. Don’t worry if you didn’t get the same answer, that’s really not the point. For example Inc. author Marla Tabaka’s answer to this question was Zappos. When thinking of companies who have great corporate culture, Zappos is a pretty good case study. “Driven by ten core values which define their culture, brand, and business strategies, Zappos employees enjoy free lunches, no-charge vending machines, a company library, a nap room, and free health care,” writes Tabaka in a recent Inc. article. With 75% of their customers coming back for more, Zappos is clearly doing something right.
What can companies learn from Zappos? How about “if you want to build a company that attracts and retains loyal employees and customers, creating your own unique culture needs to be a top priority,” advises Tabaka. According to Dr. David “Doc” Vik, the founder and CEO of The Culture King, and Zappos’ chief corporate culture consultant, “Keep in mind, that within all companies, there is already a culture…But it may not be what is wanted, and many times, the culture is created by default.” So if most culture’s are created by default, how do you transform it? Well, here are five steps to help you create an unstoppable company culture straight from the culture king himself, David Vik.
1. Create a compelling vision
Within every company, groups of people need to understand what they are doing or delivering. It is only once everyone is on the same page, can all ensuing decisions and actions can be aligned to the vision. “This will help in creating and re-invention and is a guiding light or ‘North Star’ to follow and guide everyone connected to your company,” says Vik.
Vik suggests doing your best to make your vision short, memorable, and repeatable. This may seem a bit silly. However the longer the vision, the more confusing it becomes. “Long or confusing paragraphs cannot guide thoughts, decision or actions of the employees, mostly because they can’t remember or repeat it,” says Vik.
2. Determine your purpose
Vik aptly points out that, “Everyone needs a purpose in their lives; this is just as true in business.” The purpose is essentially the “why” you’re doing what you’re doing. For example, Vik says that “If your company’s purpose is only about making money, employees won’t stand behind it for long.” This is why crafting a purpose that is not only compelling, but also gives employees a great reason to work at your company is so important. It will attract passionate employees who want to fulfill your company’s purpose.
“If you create a purpose that is a benefit to humankind, not just your company, you will not only attract employees, but retain them as well, which will produce the same affect with your customers,” says Vik.
3. Align your business model
Take a good look at your business model. Is it in alignment with the wants, needs and demands of the customer? Is it aligned with all the possibilities and opportunities out there?
“If your company’s business model is deeply entrenched in hard up-selling and long contracts of you don’t treat the customer like the matter, you may want to make changes to align with the wants, needs and demands of the customer,” says Vik. Today’s customers have more choices than ever before, and companies must evolve.
4. Create unique/ WOW factors
Unique/WOW factors for your company may be the single most important thing in business today. Being able to differentiate your company from the rest is quickly becoming an important factor in getting and retaining quality employees. “Having a unique/WOW factor should not only be for what you sell, but how you deliver it…Be different! If everyone is building fences, dig a tunnel!” says Vik. This is even more true for a commodity or a service, as in those cases what you may be selling may not be all that unique to begin with.
5. Clarify your values
Values let everyone else out there know what you’re all about. When coming up with your company’s values, it makes sense then to get everyone’s input as they will need to embody and live by them. Vik advises “Tak[ing] a good look around inside your company and see what the current values are. If they are not what you desire, create values that will guide the people and the company toward success.”
For example, if you’ve noticed that your company isn’t the best at getting back to people you wouldn’t want to state a value as “we communicate when convenient.” Instead, you’re probably going to want to create a value like “timely communication.” This way you’re attracting those that expect timely communication and over time, it will become self-managing, while helping your employees and company reach their full potential.
Take some time when creating these these five structures. Remember they are the foundation from which the entire corporate culture is based upon. Once the structure is set, allow the people in your organization build upon it. Your culture will then be the blueprint of “What”, “Why” and “How” you do things — now, and long into the future.