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What makes a great company culture.

We see these companies in the media. We read about them in countless articles online. We dream about what it would be like to work there. Or even how we can recreate the same environment inside our walls. They are the companies who have disrupted the market and have set the bar high for what makes a great company culture.  

So what is the secret sauce inside their booming brands? We talk with Chief HR Strategist Kent Williams to find out.

What’s the Secret Sauce?

When you first meet Kent you can’t help but feel like you’ve known him for years. He is a people person. As he should be.  He has been at the center of the HR industry for more than 30 years. He has worked and guided numerous organizations on how to set their people up for success. When it comes to HR, he knows his stuff.

We asked Kent to define the foundation of building a great culture. His answer,

“Define vision and mission first. Those are the most important two-steps.”

Kent’s defines Vision and Mission as the following:

  • The mission is meant to make a clear understanding of who we are and what is our purpose.
  • Vision is long-term inspirational. For example, we want to be the best widget maker in the world. This is what we want to shoot for.

This concept seems simple. But why do so many companies get it wrong? Where in the pipeline are the fundamentals breaking down?

“Leadership has to believe the companies’ mission and vision and then communicate that to the employees. If leadership does not want to be involved or focus on shaping the culture. It will get shaped for them.  And they may not like the results.”

Peter Drucker, acclaimed author, educator and consultant states, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

So how does culture eat strategy for breakfast?

Culture is who you are. It is what drives results. It is the behaviors that are the lifeblood that drives a mission. It defines how a company will get from A to Z. How they will achieve their goals.

“Core values are the foundation for everything else that an organization does. Therefore, leadership needs to hire people that fit that culture, that embrace those values, and that live those values every day.”

Kent Williams and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Kochner had the opportunity to visit one of the best, if not the best company cultures in America – Zappos.

If you aren’t familiar with Zappos, they are a multi-billion-dollar online retailer, specializing in shoes and clothing.

Kent and Mark spent the day with their team and got a tour of their operations. One of the things that stood out the most to Kent was their customer service center.

“What I found interesting is customer calls have gone as long as 10 hours. Yes, I said 10 hours. Zappos does not train their reps to just solve problems. They trained their employees to let the customer talk. Because at the end of the day, this meant the customer would be taken care of.”

This should come as no surprise since Zappos motto is “powered by service”. A statement that embodies the philosophy Zappos Leaderships lives and breathes on the daily. The Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 rule.

Applying the 80/20 Rule.

At Zappos, managers and team leads are encouraged to spend 20% of their time hanging out and socializing with their team. “If you take the time to get to know your employees, I mean really get to know them, you will be able to become a mentor,” says Marcela Gutierrez, Manager of Zappos Insights and New Hire Training. “The difference between a mentor and a manager is that you will know how to coach them and help them achieve not only professional but personal goals. They will also work harder for you because they will trust you 100%. There’s nothing better than to have someone you can trust and come to for anything.” Taking the time to get to know each other builds trust and team unity where both leaders and team members can learn from each other.

So what can we all learn from companies like Zappos and countless others who embody Peter Drucker’s philosophy, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”?  While culture can’t be built overnight, you can begin practicing it in simple ways. 

“Make sure everybody at all levels knows the core values. The more you can make it part of your everyday culture, the more it becomes clear and embraced by the employees.”

Cobalt boats achieve this by reminding each employee every day as they walk through the front doors through a simple statement.

Through these doors walk the best boat builders in the world.

If you are interested in learning more about how Premier Consulting Partners can help transform your company culture, use the form below. We are excited to help organizations large and small build better businesses.


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