Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Authenticity at Work

Creating a dynamic and happy culture in the work place can be illusive. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, sees it as an important process in building a brand.

"At Zappos, our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff — like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or passionate employees and customers — will happen naturally on its own.

We believe that your company’s culture and your company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand may lag the culture at first, but eventually it will catch up.

Your culture is your brand."

To build and maintain a desirable culture Hsieh defines the Zappos culture in terms of 10 core values:

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

Of course, it's easy to come up with a list like this, but another to work it out in practice.

Sarah Hampson in an excellent article about work place culture reflects on her years in England when a tea trolley came around at four p.m. "It was a welcome break and a chance to gather and chat."

Similarly a leading management consultant reflects, "What we’re serving up is an emotional or behavioural tea trolley. A lot of companies think civility means withholding, not saying anything, making nice. But it’s not about that. It’s about being truly nice, which means being authentic and saying what’s on your mind in an honest and accountable way.”

Creating the right conditions may include providing opportunities for staff to share a lunch or break in engaging ways.