13 Steps to Building a Successful Organizational Culture
One of the main reasons why Wal-Mart consistently outperformed the competition was its employees. Sam Walton in his earlier years of retail business realized that his employees(Store-front employees, Truck Drivers etc..) had the potential to influence customer experience as they were the interface between the store & the customers. It was important that their daily behavior with customers had to reflect Wal-mart’s values and aspirations. In order to achieve this, Sam Walton took efforts to help his employees understand what a Wal-mart brand is, Why it is important and how it would provide a differentiated value proposition than other retailers. He hired employees who would embrace and get inspired by those values. He was of the opinion that only inspired people would take efforts to align their behavior with Wal-mart’s values and help in enhancing customer experiences.
Sam Walton also perceived that his store employees are in the best position to learn customer’s needs, wants and desires. So, he began collecting ideas, suggestions from them. Many of those ideas were massively successful. It showed that employees could not be treated as a passive audience. They need to be actively engaged. You cannot build a culture if you expect your employees to buy whatever the top leadership team is selling.
It was clear for Sam Walton that he had to think about his employees before thinking about his customers — he had to care for his employees more than any other retailer.
Slowly, his employees began advancing in their careers as well as in their own personal lives. They became ardent supporters of Wal-mart’s values and mission, as their destinies were now fully intertwined with the brand. Thus Sam Walton slowly developed a distinctive ‘Internal Culture’ that helped Wal-mart to produce phenomenal results. A culture that mutually reinforced the brand’s vision and purpose.
It’s not just Wal-mart — If we look at every ‘Great’ company, you could see that a strong ‘Internal Culture’ had played a massive role in differentiating the brand and building a sustainable competitive advantage.
Employees are responsible for breakthrough customer experiences and those employees are shaped by the company’s culture.
What could we learn about building the ‘Internal Brand Culture’ from those ‘great’ companies who have successfully created an aligned and distinctive corporate culture?
01-PURPOSE, VISION and CORE VALUES
Jim Collins in his book, ‘Good to Great’ talks about what separates the great companies from the good ones over the long term — Great companies have great ‘purpose’ and bigger ‘vision’ beyond just making money or being number one in the market. Great companies have an idea of the kind of future they want to be in and they could communicate clearly to everyone in the organization.
Every business decision is guided by the company’s core values and those values are derived from the brand’s Vision. Core Values are a system of guiding principles on the behaviors or the mindsets that could inspire employees, provide direction to them so that they could focus their efforts and also help them to know how their roles would influence other’s lives. The purpose defines the reason why a company or brand exists. Sometimes, vision and purpose are intertwined.
1) In 2002, IBM was struggling and had a stagnant, insular culture. IBM’s new CEO Palmisano determined to put the company on a new path.
Palmisano recognised,”Clever advertising or freshened-up logo will be a pointless excercise if there are cultural problems within the company that prevents delivery of any new initiatives”.
He figured out that his first step would be to cultivate a strong, shared-internal culture that aligns and integrates with new brand promise. What would be the starting point for building such a new culture? Understanding the Vision and Core values the IBM brand should stand for. Palmisano took a research to collect information from every employee regarding the values underlying the IBM brand.
The outcome(Core Values) of the research was
- Dedication to every client’s success
- Innovation that matters
- Trust and Personality in all relationships.
IBM went on to share and impart those values to every employee, making the IBM brand distinctive and valuable. The company turned around.
2) Amazon’s Vision is to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company” and main strengths of work culture are Customer obsession — start with the customer and work backward, Employees are owners, Speed matters(Customers appreciate the quick solutions) and Dive Deep, Invent & simplify.
3) Zappos Vision — very best customer service — provide excellent customer experience. Their core values — Deliver WOW Through Service, Embrace and Drive Change, Create Fun and A Little Weirdness, Pursue Growth and Learning, Be Passionate and Determined, Be Humble
4) Starbucks Vision — “To inspire and nurture the human spirit-One Person, One Cup, and One Neighborhood at a time”. Their Core Values are Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome, Acting with courage, challenging the status quo., Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity, and respect, Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results, We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.
User-Centered Vision — One of the striking aspects of Vision statements of bigger companies was that their statements were written or designed around their customer’s or consumer’s needs, desires. They have framed their ambitions around their customers. It was not about profits to their company or to being number one in the field or being the best creative organization or being the best company in particular technology. They understood that the brand exists because of the customer and their only purpose is to win the customers, not just serve them.
02-HIRE RIGHT PEOPLE
To build and sustain the culture, it is important to hire the right people who would believe the brand’s core values and whose personalities could fit the existing culture. It is important to spend time and effort to hire the right people.
-While recruiting, If Sam Walton met a potential person, he would invite them to visit his stores, spend a lot of time with them, observe them in his store and then he would take him or her to his house, would dine together with his family. He also would discuss the candidate’s family life. Sam was not looking for an employee but a partner, who could fit culturally in his organization and who could appreciate Wal-mart’s core values.
-One of the core values of Wal-mart is ‘Frugality’. Sam Walton himself lived and breathed frugality. While hiring employees, he always looked for frugality. One day, he came across a competitor’s store employee, who was earning around $12000 a year and he found out that the employee had been able to save on his salary. Sam felt that if a fellow could manage his own finances, then he could be successful in managing one of our stores. He recruited the guy and the employee went on to become a regional manager.
Jim Collins writes “If you have the right people, then the problem of how to motivate and how to manage people properly goes away”.
-In the 1980s, banking deregulation wrecked havoc in the banking industry. Wells Fargo handled these challenges better than any other bank and began its fifteen-year of spectacular performance. Carl Reichardt, who became CEO in 1983, attributed the success to the presence of right people around him.
-When David Maxwell became CEO of the struggling company, Fannie Mae, in 1981, the first step he took was to get the right people on the Fannie Mae management team.
-Nucor hired people based on the idea that it is easy to teach people how to make steel but not the work ethic. So, Nucor located its mills in places where the farmers are habituated to go to bed early, rise at dawn and get to work on time. Nucor employees usually showed up for work thirty minutes early.
-In Zappos, the HR department would conduct a ‘Cultural Fit’ interview other than the technical interview to screen out potential cultural misfits. Also at the end of the training period, the company offers everyone $2000 to quit in addition to the time they have already spent in the office. This is to make sure that employees who believe in Zappos’ long-term vision only should be part of their culture.
A leadership’s commitment to the brand’s vision is generally reflected in the selection, design, and implementation of ‘Core Capabilities’ of the business. Sometimes the leadership may have to trade-off some of the business activities in order to follow the core values. The core capabilities would show how much serious the brand leadership is and how much efforts the leadership would be willing to put. “What you focus shows what you value”.
-In the initial days, Zappos was following Drop-ship business where a Seller would ship the shoes directly to the consumer. For Zappos, this method was profitable and required less effort as there was no inventory and no shipping related expenses. But the brand was facing a plenty of customer service challenges. A lot of unhappy and disappointed customers. The company could not control the delays and the quality of shipments. As Zappos’ vision is about ‘best customer service’ and ‘drop-ship’ method is affecting the brand’s core values, Zappos’ leadership had to take a decision. The leadership team realized that the longer they took to arrive at a decision, the employees could mistrust the leadership’s intentions. They had to ‘Walk the Talk’ and show the commitment. The leadership team decided to remove all the ‘drop-ship’ products from their website in an instant. They began to sell only the products which they stock. Thus warehousing and distribution became a core capability for Zappos.
-Similarly, in their initial years of business, Zappos was considering whether to outsource the customer call centers to other private players. Zappos’ leadership team realized that ‘Customer Call-center’ is an important element in providing the best customer service. Any misgivings would affect the customer’s brand experience. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh believed that sales might not happen over the telephone but on an average, every customer would contact the brand’s call center at least once during his or her lifetime and the brand should do their best in utilizing the opportunity to create a lasting memory. He was of the opinion that the telephone is one of the best branding devices out there where the brand would get a Customer’s undivided attention for five to ten minutes. If the customer representative would get the interaction right, the customer would remember the experience for a very long time and he or she would definitely tell his or her friends about it. Tony felt that ‘Call-centre’ was not an expense to be minimized but a core competency to help in achieving the brand’s vision.
-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was against selling flavored artificial coffee beans. They buy, grind and roast all their own coffee, and sell it only in company-owned stores. The simple reason-They didn’t want to compromise the quality at any point from its production to its consumption. They had built trust by being authentic.
Every other competitor of Starbucks expanded quickly through the franchising route as it was the logical, quick and easy way to raise capital. But Howard never allowed franchising fearing the quality of the product. He felt that franchisees are the middlemen who would stand between Starbucks and their customers.
Howard refused to entertain the idea of pouring the coffee beans into clear plastic bins, where they could get stale. He chose not to sell coffee beans in supermarkets in order to maintain a clear distinction from grocery store coffee.
Thus a brand’s commitment to core values in setting up the unique activities for the business provides direction and inspiration to the employees.
04-BE WHAT YOU PREACH
Culture change begins when the brand’s leader breathes and live by the core values. He has to tweak his mindset and model his behavior based on which he wants the organization to emulate.
-One of the Wal-mart’s core value is ‘Frugality. Though Sam Walton became rich in the later part of his life, he shunned all unnecessary luxury — He never bought Yacht or an island home or a luxury car. He moved around in an old pickup truck.
Sam Walton always looked for ways to save money. He never allowed Wal-Mart to buy a jet till they approached $40billion in sales and expanded far away places. During business trips, he made it a habit among his executives to sleep two to a room and stay in Holiday Inns, Ramada Inns. He himself stayed in normal hotels and shared rooms. He spread his frugality throughout the whole company. He always worked like crazy to keep the expenses down and in-turn prices below any other competitors.
Sam’s belief was that Wal-Mart exists to save money for the customers in addition to the valuable service and the quality. He asserted that whenever Walmart spends one dollar mindlessly, it comes right out of our customer’s pockets and if Walmart could save one dollar, that puts the company one more step ahead of the competition.
-Once Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz received a suggestion that every employee in each store should be given a postcard size comment card and encouraged to report to the ‘Mission Review’ team if they saw a decision that did not support brand’s mission statement. Howard was worried by the thought of a team of employees monitoring the top management like that. But then he realized that he had to show his employees that he is fully committed to the brand’s core values. He had to show the sincerity of management towards mission statement. So he implemented the idea. It helped the company to maintain higher standards and also provided an important avenue for open communications with the employees.
05-BE THE CUSTOMER
-The USAA offers banking, investing, and insurance to people and families who serve or served, in the U.S Military. One of the reasons for the organization’s success is their employees and their culture. The company has asked every employee to walk in the customer’s shoes, think everything from the customer’s perspective and empathize with them.
Bill Taylor writes “The USAA employees are trained to see the world through the eyes of a soldier on active duty in Iraq who needs to wire money to a sick parent, or who needs to finance a car or house. That kind of personal identification between employees and customers is what gives USAA the drive to not just provide great service but to unleash big innovations”.
-Harly-Davidson company mandates the leaders and its employees to spend a considerable amount of time with motorcycle riders. The brand looks at merging the line between customers and employees by promoting a culture that inspires employees to become riders themselves. At Harley-Davidson’s headquarters, the parking row at the front is reserved for Bikes. Car parking facility is at the back of the office. It reflects an organization’s priority.
Lara Lee, Harley-Davidson’s former head of services “We don’t spend a lot of time talking about ‘what customers want’. We are them and they are us”
-The ‘Method’ brand requires its employees to serve as the lobby receptionist one day each month. This allows them to interact with customers and get their perspective.
06-EMPLOYEE WORKS, PARTNER OWNS
-Sam Walton considered people working in his stores, warehouses as partners and called them ‘associates’ rather than employees. He believed that the more he shared profits with his associates, the more profit the company would gain. Other than sharing the profits, Sam gave incentive bonuses, discount stock purchase plans and health benefits to his associates. If the company could treat the associates well, then the associates would treat the customers well. If the customers are treated well, then they would visit the store again and again. Real profits in business lie in ‘repeat customers’.
-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz writes, “In a store or restaurant, the customer’s experience is vital: One bad encounter, and you’ve lost a customer for life. If the fate of your business is in the hands of a twenty-year-old part-time worker who goes to college or pursues acting on the side, can you afford to treat him or her as expendable?”.
Like Sam Walton, Howard wanted to share the ownership of the company and the rewards of financial success with the people of Starbucks. He introduced ‘Bean-Stock’ and offered stock options for his employees. He offered generous health-care benefits which he extended to part-time workers too. His thought was if he could link everyone to the performance of the company as a whole, every employee would have the same attitude, morale, and spirit as the CEO.
Howard also believed that if we treat people like a family, and they will be loyal and give their all. It would cut the costs of training and recruiting.
07-FREEDOM and RESPONSIBILITY
-Sam Walton made a genuine effort to involve the associates in the business decisions, planning, and execution as he considered them as partners. He gave his associates freedom, authority, and responsibility. He also requested his managers to trust their associates and do the same. He appealed them to listen to their associate’s ideas and help in implementing them. He wanted every one of his employees to be independent of their own. Many of his store employees had the freedom to conceptualize and implement their own ideas of visual merchandising. Some of those ideas were massively successful and few resulted in enormous failures.
Once, one of Sam Walton’s executives, Phil was working in a new Wal-Mart store in a town where he had constant competition from a local Kmart. One day, he got a deal to buy ‘Tide detergent’ cheaper. The offer was that if Phil buys some 3,500 cases of Tide detergent, he would get each individual ‘Tide’ box’s price for $1.00. The market price of ‘Tide’ box at that time was $3.97. Without consulting Sam, Phil went and bought 3,500 cases. It was a shocking decision. Everybody thought that Phil made a mistake. Sam Walton was also worried that it would be impossible to sell so many boxes but he strongly felt that for innovation to happen, people need to try some crazy stuff. Phil stacked those boxes as a giant pyramid reaching all the way to the roof. It was so huge. It was one hell of a visual display. He ran a promotion offering ‘Tide’ detergent for $1.99. The visual display was so big, it made news and everybody came to look at it, and everything was sold within a week.
One of the important factors for a business’ success is to build an internal culture around the freedom and responsibility of every individual — Jim Collins
-Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, is of the opinion that nobody, particularly brilliant people likes to work at a place where they are tightly controlled. If there is no autonomy then there is no dignity. Stephen, further adds that it is a well-known fact that most people do not like to work like subordinated work units. They want to be in charge of their destiny and would like to have ownership of their growth and a great company’s job was to help them in their pursuit. The leadership has to provide sufficient autonomy so that the employees could think that they are valued and they have self-worth. The employees should feel that they have a lot of freedom to use their talents. Freedom would encourage risk-taking, creativity and experimentation. This would further help the growth of our business. People would grow both professionally and personally. They would stay longer in our companies.
-Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says. “What we really care is about the incredible people we are working with. We organize everything around them. Incredible people do not want to be micromanaged. They need freedom. We manage people through setting context and letting those people run the system. I take very few decisions. I didn’t even know what kind of deals they are planning. Most of the decisions are taken by them. Many are individual decisions”.
08-SHARE THE INFORMATION, BE TRANSPARENT
Sam Walton realized that one of the ways to show that Wal-Mart considers every employee as a partner is to share every information about the business — be it sales, inventory, purchases, and profits. It gave Wal-Mart many indirect benefits.
- Information sharing built trust between associates and the management.
- It gave more freedom to Wal-Mart’s employees. It made them more responsible.
- It helped the associates to generate ideas that were easy to implement and within the constraints.
- It helped the associates to make rapid strides in their own personal development which indirectly benefitted the company.
-Zappos employees are encouraged to ask anything about the business by sending a mail. The management is open to sharing every information about the business.
The research shows that ‘Employees’ motivation and engagement increases multifold when they feel included in important decisions in an organization.
09-APPRECIATE BUT BE SINCERE AND HONEST
As they say, that all accomplishments of employees may not be incentive-worthy but they are praiseworthy.
-Sam Walton encouraged his executives to constantly look for things in their associates that could be worth appreciating. He himself appreciated his employees when he came across things that they had been doing it right or innovative. He felt appreciating was a way to let employees know that they were doing something outstanding, something good for the company and something important for every one of other associates. He made sure that his managers were not insincere in praising the associates.
Sam made sure that the company could share individual success stories, learnings across the chain of stores thereby making the person feel good about his contribution. A simple act of appreciation empowered his employees to take more ownership of the tasks, take on higher responsibilities, exhibit enhanced cordial relationship with his fellow associates and stay with the company for a longer period.
-One of the reasons why employees love working for Southwest Airlines is ‘The Culture Of Appreciation’. Southwest team love to recognize and award every employee who go out of their way to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. The company has a programme called ‘Kick Tails’. It is “a stand-alone dual-purpose recognition and incentive program, designed to encourage employees to demonstrate appreciation to one another.” Any Southwest employee can give an unlimited number of ‘Kick Tails’ to any other employee, as a way to say thanks for the job well done. Each Kick Tail has a chance to enter a monthly lottery system to gain “SWAG points” which could be redeemed for various prizes. The ‘Kick-Tail’ program is more about appreciating colleagues and thanking them.
-Zappos too has a similar programme where the employees give each other “Zollars” to reward the other employee for his performance, help or any other support activities. The “Zollars” could be redeemed for various gifts. Julianna Young, a Zappos employee writes “Not only does this allow employees to reward one another, but it provides one more incentive for your coworkers to be their best. They never know who may be watching and ready to reward them with some “company cash.”
10-BUILD A COMMUNITY
Openness and honesty inside the organization lead to trust and faith among all employees. This would further help them to build strong relationships and nurture emotional connections. As the employees are emotionally connected, they would care about each other, respect each other and finally they would care about the organization they are part of. Thus, they would become a community on their own. Every successful culture builds a community within their organization.
DaVita’s CEO Kent J Thiry says, “Building a community is our organization’s first priority. The company comes second. Our employees spend more than 50% of waking hours as an adult at the workplace. The workplace has become central to the employee’s life mission. So, it is important that he could make emotional connections at his workplace. It impacts the work positively. If we are a community, act like a community, why can’t we call ourselves a ‘Village’?. If we need to take any decisions, we would think from the perspective of the Villagers. How a village mayor take a decision? For the welfare of the villagers? We too do the same. Every decision centers around the welfare of our employees.”
-In Zappos, internal spaces are designed in such a way to increase the chances of serendipitous employee interactions in order to achieve the goal of building a community. Also, while logging into their computers, the employees were shown a randomly selected employee photo and the user is given a multiple choice test to name that employee. Zappos has many similar programmes to help everyone to learn about each other and thus move towards building a community.
Research shows that employees who have best friends at work are much more happy and satisfied with their jobs compared to people who do not have such friends.
11-EMBRACE AND DRIVE CHANGE
A good brand grows into a great brand if they are always prepared for constant change. The change had to come from the bottom up, from the people who are on the front-lines, who are closer to the customers.
-Howard Behar joined Starbucks in 1989. He was already familiar with the company as a consumer. After joining, he frequented the stores and spent considerable time in talking and observing customers and baristas. In his research, he figured out that many customers wanted Starbucks to offer nonfat(skim) milk for the reasons of health and weight. But CEO and the other top leadership rejected the idea, sticking adamantly to the Starbucks’ core values. CEO Howard Schultz did a lot of tasting tests with nonfat milk and every time, he disliked the taste. He felt that he would be diluting the authenticity and taste of the product. Everyone including store baristas opposed Howard Behar pointing out the operational difficulties in handling two types of milk. But Behar was determined to try it out. He convinced half a dozen stores to volunteer to try nonfat milk. And it was a massive success. Within six months, all other stores offered nonfat milk.
-In 1978, Wal-mart began to invest in a satellite communication system. Later, the company invested in advanced distribution system & warehousing and bought sophisticated equipment & technology ahead of other retailers. At the same time, the industry leader Kmart’s management had such a strong resistance to any kind of change, including investment in advanced systems. In fact, Sam Walton too was against investing in computers but his employees were persistent. And he listened to them.
-Magic Johnson, CEO, Magic Johnson Enterprises advises that every business must learn to adapt to their changing environment to remain successful. He further adds that as long as you and your team remain close to your customers, you would find solutions to the questions ‘What to be changed? and ‘When to change?’.
One time, Johnson’s real estate venture invested heavily in building up Condos and he was planning to sell them. Unfortunately, that year, the markets crashed and banks stopped providing loans. Customers did not have money to buy homes. The financial crisis affected everyone. Sensing the mood swings of his customers, Johnson changed the business model to ‘Rental Model’ -He rented out the Condos rather than selling them. The solution made sure that the business would survive the crisis.
-In the 1970s, Kroger and A&P faced changing customer preferences — People were looking for bigger, superstores with more choices and a whole lot of various conveniences. Ralph Burger, the CEO, A&P, discarded all these findings and believed that A&P’s hundred years of success would overcome everything. Burger and his team began to rigorously defend their ideas against those facts. They were not ready to face the truth and embrace the change. Kroger was also an old store but they came to the conclusion that their existing old business model(accounted for 100% of their business) won’t work and would go extinct. Lyle Everingham, then CEO of Kroger and his team confronted the brutal truth and acted on it.
12-WHISTLE WHILE YOUR WORK
Great brands find a way to add fun and little weirdness in their culture. Being formal all the time seems to be boring and uncreative.
-One of the Zappos’ Core values is ‘Create Fun and Little Weirdness’. Zappos motivates people to create funny situations in everyday work and laugh at themselves. The company encourages employees to do things differently, in a little unconventional way so that the employees could think outside the box and be creative. Zappos CEO says that ‘fun and weirdness’ makes employees more engaged with the work and the company as a whole becomes innovative. It builds spirit, breaks down barriers among employees and improves communication. It helps in building the community.
-Walmart had a folk called Mike “Possum” Johnson, who entertained the employees by taking on challenges in a no-holds-barred persimmon-seed-spitting contest, using company’s general counsel as the official target. Once Sam Walton wore a grass court and did a hula dance on wall street after losing a bet with one of his colleagues. One of the senior managers had to wrestle a bear after losing a bet with his crew regarding sales projections. Another time, Vice-president of the company had to come dressed in pink tights and a long blonde wig and ride a white horse around the town square. Once Wal-mart’s president was made to wear a crazy dress and ride a donkey around the store’s parking lot. One of the executives had asked even customers to play hide and seek to collect mystery prizes. There was a ‘Kiss-the-pig’ contest to raise money for charity. The manager who ended up with the most donations had to kiss a pig. There was a costume competition, fashion shows using old men. There’s world championship of ‘Moon Pie Eating’ contest. Wal-mart’s culture encourages employees to think up all sorts of crazy ideas that break the mold and fight monotony.
-While hiring new employees, Method brand asks three questions. One of the questions is “How will you help keep Method weird?”.
The company has a lot of programmes to encourage fun in the workplace. There is a day of Food-fight, day of showing a weird mustache design, a day of weird costumes, a day of Ping-Pong competition. The employees have their freedom to modify the interior of their own place and make it weird. -The list goes on.
13-IT’S NOT ABOUT THE COMPANY, IT’S ABOUT EMPLOYEES
Successful company cultures always offer their employees opportunities for growth both professionally and personally.
-In Zappos, employees are encouraged to acquire new skills, knowledge by providing them with training and learning facilities. The management’s goal is to unlock the hidden potential of the employee and guide them to be proactive. By joining forces with employees, Zappos leadership team have devised ways to help employees challenge themselves and to stretch beyond their imagined boundaries of capabilities. As the employee enhances his skills, he would be ready to explore new frontiers, grab potential opportunities and overcome unknown challenges. Zappos team believes that the more challenges an employee take, the company would be ready to face even more challenging situations.
-As Wal-Mart’s stores were in small towns, most of the new hires from the local community had terrible grammar as they barely finished high school. They had little exposure to the business environment. They were naturally shy. Wal-Mart spent a considerable amount of time and money in training them to learn to speak and help the customers. Sam Walton also helped them in learning leadership skills. The not so well educated rural men went on to become store managers, regional heads, and national heads in quick time.
In the other competitor stores, a new recruit had to have ten years of retail experience before he could even be considered for the store manager. Sam Walton, on the other hand, would take people with hardly any retail experience, train them and if they showed real potential, willingness and real desire to get the job done, he would allow them to manage their own store.
-Sam Walton always talked in terms of ‘Benefits’ to his employees. If he wanted a person to work for Wal-Mart, he gave him the reasons and explained how it would transform the person’s life. One day, he thought of implementing an idea in all the stores. He requested every employee to greet the customer and ask if he could be of any help whenever a customer comes within ten feet distance. He advised his employee to look in the eye of the customer. As usual, Sam explained the benefits of such an activity to his employees. He told them “If you do this, your natural shyness would fly away. It would help your personality to develop and would help you in becoming a leader and you might become the manager of this store.”. Always, think and talk in terms of benefits to others.
-Danny Wegman, President, Wegmans grocery chain says “We stress on imparting sound knowledge to our employees. Knowledgeable workers are something our competitors don’t have and our customers couldn’t get anywhere else…Anything that requires knowledge and service gives us a reason to exist. Employees are happy to stand in the aisles and share with customers their expertise about meats and cheeses, They are flown at company expense to see these foods produced in Colorado, Argentia, Wisconsin, Italy, and France”
Sam Walton felt that a strong corporate culture with its own unique personality, on top of the profit sharing partnership, gave Wal-mart a pretty sharp competitive advantage. With great brands, company culture and customer experience are inextricably linked. A vibrant culture unifies, aligns, focuses, motivates everyone in the company. The brand leadership needs to devote time, attention, and resources toward building a strong internal culture.
References: Interview of CEOs-Videos by Stanford Graduate School Of Business, What Great Brands Do by Denise Lee John, Good To Great by Jim Collins, Sam Walton’s Made in America, ‘The Everything Store’ by Brad Stone, Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, Wired to Care by Dev Patnaik, Delivering happiness by Tony Hsieh, Pour Your Heart by Howard Schultz, Playing To Win by A G Lafley and Roger L Martin, OCTanner, Zappos Blog, Method Brand’s blogs, articles in inc.com.
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