Culture Drives Success: Is Your Agency Delivering Happiness?

ZapposWe recently had the chance to hear Jon Wolske (@zapposinsights), culture evangelist for Zappos Insights, discuss company culture at a PRSA Cleveland event.

Zappos has been on Fortune’s 100 best places to work for five years running. Its strong culture has been a driver of employee productivity, quality customer service and brand strength.

Below, we share some of the lessons learned from the talk, and how you can apply them to your agency to fuel an environment fit for success.

Define Your Culture.

Agencies need to define their cultures to attract and retain the right type of talent, and immerse ideology throughout the company. Instead of dictating culture from the top, Jon recommended having employees participate.

Ask your team: What defines our company? What do you want our company to be?

Base your company’s core values on the responses you receive, so that they truly encompass what’s important to your people.

Hire and Fire Over Your Values.

Jon advocated for values that are so important to your team that you are willing to hire and fire over them. If you can’t make that type of commitment, then the value doesn’t belong on the list. Some value statements that Zappos uses (that I just love) include:

  • Deliver WOW through service.
  • Create fun and a little weirdness.
  • Pursue growth and learning.
  • Do more with less.

Whatever values you select should truly define your organization. Values are more than words on paper. For example, one of Enron’s values was “integrity,” but because it wasn’t integrated into the organization, it didn’t mean much.

Start by finding the right people that match your values. Jon explained that at Zappos, a good portion of their interview questions are culture based. For instance, they ask: “How has a positive and/or negative customer service experience made you feel?” to determine if individuals take notice to varying service levels. They also ask fun questions like, “What’s your theme song and why?” to see if someone is willing to be himself.

Candidates need to be able to pass both skills and culture tests.

Service is Not a Department.

Every employee is responsible for a company’s culture, not just one department. At Zappos, they are committed to wow’ing customers, colleagues and business partners. As a group, they celebrate great service.

Culture Isn’t Stuff.

While nice employee perks are great, it’s more important to focus on a higher purpose. Jon pushes organizations to look past tangible benefits and focus more on the intangibles when creating their culture. Zappos boasts:

  • An environment of empowerment
  • Encouraged connections
  • A focus on doing the right thing
  • Continuous feedback
  • Personalized workstations

Cultivate Agency Culture.

A strong agency culture helps with employee and client retention, and serves as a great recruitment tool. In the words of Jon: “Culture helps you get through the bad times, and enjoy the good times.” What are you doing to cultivate your culture?

Image Source: cdharrison

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