I just finished reading Tony Hsieh’s new book, “Delivering Happiness.” There are so many great stories and suggestions in this book, I want to share them with you over my next few blog posts. By all means, buy the book. It’s a great read for anyone who owns, or wants to impact, a business.
In August of 2004, Tony felt so strongly about the level of employee engagement at Zappo’s that he wrote an e-mail to all employees announcing the compilation of a Zappos Culture Book. His plan was to use the book as part of the orientation package for all new employees.
He asked all employees to e-mail him 100 to 500 words about what the Zappos culture means to them. He asked everyone to develop their e-mail independent of any other Zappos employees to ensure a broad range of answers.
The feedback from the culture book was not all positive and resulted in the creation of a company newsletter called “Ask Anything.” Employees were encouraged to send e-mails and ask any question they want. The anonymous questions and answers were compiled each month and e-mailed to the entire company.
Ultimately, the input into the culture book let to Zappos 10 core values meaning that every employee had the opportunity to contribute to those values.
Things to consider if you’re thinking about creating a culture book within your own firm:
1. The Culture Book is not about the book — it’s about the culture
2. It’s a short-term expense and a long-term investment
3. Make it available to everyone
4. Give your evangelists a voice
5. A word is a word, and a picture is worth a thousand — but a brand is worth a million
6. Not all cultures are the same
7. Evolve — start with an e-mail to your employees and see what you get in return
Is your company prepared to be as transparent as Zappos?