“If you get the values and the culture right, success will happen.” –Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO
Customer loyalty is ultimately driven by the personal interactions buyers have with the people working within a particular organization. To put it simply, an organization’s culture is what drives performance. Any given company that dominates an industry gets its contracts not because it’s technically better than its competitors, or because it’s cheaper than its competitors; it is because the customer and clients like their culture, they like working with them, they trust them and trust their products. Consider Apple or a more localized company like Publix. We tend to shop there because of its people and culture you experience while there, not the prices. If prices solely drove customer demand, we would all be doing our grocery shopping at Wal-Mart.
So how do we as executives, managers, and leaders engage our workers fully in their hearts and minds to stand by the organization’s core values and implement them in their daily decisions? It’s a lot easier said than done. It is something many companies rarely commit to because of the amount of work and dedication it takes. It requires obsessive and persistent leadership over many years and even then, at the slightest misstep, it can slip through the cracks. Leaders drive the values of an organization, and those values, in turn, drive the worker’s behaviors. Form a culture that’s foundation is based on a principled set of core values and shape the way employees behave.
To do this, it begins with trust. The workers must trust you, and what your company stands for, in order for them to wholeheartedly get onboard with the core values and work as a collective.
In a joint study done by the New York Times and CBS people were asked: “What proportion of the populace are trustworthy?” The average answer was about 30%. There was a supplementary question: “What proportion of the people that you know, are trustworthy?” Interestingly, this average was 70%. A conclusion that we can draw from this is that individuals tend to trust the people they know, and distrust the people they don’t know. Former Chief Executive of Wood Group, Bob Keiller, poses a question we can ask ourselves: “Do your workers actually know you? If they don’t really know you, how can they trust you? If they don’t trust you why would they follow you? And if they’re not following you, who are you actually leading?”
Get to know your workers on a more personal level and let them see for themselves what you stand for, what you truly value. Hand them a copy of your company’s core values personally and ask them to sign it. Gain their trust and inspire people to believe in you and your company.
People want proof. Show them evidence that you are willing to walk away from a business deal if it means going against your company’s core values. Prove to them that WE, as a collective, are all pulling the rope in the same direction, and making all our decisions based on that mindset.
Upholding our core values isn’t always easy, but when you create a culture revolving around them, it makes all the difference. Walk the walk, and talk the talk. Say what you mean and do what you say. Before long, your company’s culture will drive its performance, and an unbridled commitment to its core values will result in positive attitudes and atmosphere around your brand.
Kelly D. Scott
better leaders ● decisions ● results