Learning to create a corporate culture that is personal

Recently, I attended the FPRA 79th Annual Conference: PR It’s Personal – Research, Relate and Respond. While there was a large slate of breakout sessions and keynotes too numerous to mention here, I wanted to share several of the takeaways that I know will assist me as I return to the workplace.

The conference officially opened on Monday, August 7 with a keynote address from Ann Rhoades, architect of the Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways corporate cultures. She shared her experiences and offered best practices on learning to create a corporate culture that is personal.

Rhoades pointed out that engaged employees outperform expectations and are 87 percent less likely to leave. Getting to “yes” for employees means that companies will get to “yes” for their customers. If you “care” in your core values, she advised, then care about your employees first. Rhoades emphasized that employees need customized treatment. “Hold employees accountable, but reward them how they want to be rewarded.”

Building sustainable, engaged cultures for both customers and employees needs to begin with the core values which are unique to your company or organization. Every week at JetBlue, employees receive a story from the CEO about a fellow associate delivering on their organization’s core values. She advised, “Get engaged with employees and with their families.” Consider building your brand by telling positive stories about employees living your company’s core values.

One way to engage with employees is with empowerment and truth telling. Rhoades advises leadership to let employees know what you are challenged with and let them come up with the solutions. Leaders will make mistakes, so let your employees know that! They will then be more likely to share their mistakes with you.

“Employees want to trust you, respect you, be inspired by you, learn from you and feel emboldened by you to achieve positive outcomes,” said Rhoades, who assured attendees that engaging and empowering employees will create an environment where they will deliver extraordinary customer-centric service and improve overall performance at all levels.

On the last day of conference, attendees were treated to Colby Jubenville, PhD, speaking on personal relations and personal branding, harkening back to the conference theme for the year. He advised attendees to lead their teams by “affirming and validating team members’ worth and potential in a clear way so that they can see it for themselves.” And he left attendees with this thought, “Help others to find their voice.”

By Patricia Vernon

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