The Culture Equation: Are You Measuring Up?

Zappos is an online shoe store dedicated to customer service. It went from $0 in sales in 1999 to earning $1.2 billion in 2009. Either it had one heck of a marketing campaign, or the company did something different than its competitors.

Zappos founders know that happy employees are the key to success. It is a great example of what happens when a company gets the culture equation right; everything else should happen the way it’s supposed to—happy customers, passionate employees and a stellar brand.

Here are some ideas for getting your own company culture on track.

As business owners, we become increasingly motivated when we see results, so it would make sense to offer this same motivation to our employees. But too often, employees leave work without knowing their purpose.

Measurement is one of the key ingredients in this equation.

If providing outstanding customer service is the organization’s purpose, survey clients and share the feedback. If efficiency is the goal, measure the productivity of each individual in your business. Want to increase satisfaction at a fast-food restaurant? Count the number of smiles the drive-through employee receives from customers.

Whatever the goal may be, find a way to measure it and provide results on a daily basis to provide instant gratification. If you wait to give employees a quarterly report, they will become disconnected. Could you wait an entire quarter to find out how your business is doing?

Employees need to go home knowing how they contributed to their organization that day and how they can improve the next. Through measurement, you are giving your team a purpose, and, as a result, your employees will become more engaged in the work they perform.

Once you have the results, it is vital that you publicly recognize the top performers daily. In my company, we have a “WOW Wall,” where we display excellent customer surveys and publicly recognize the team members responsible. We change the surveys daily (sometimes twice daily), and we find the payoff to be huge.

Let’s face it: It feels good to be recognized in front of your peers. You can implement a culture of celebration into your own organization. Find a bulletin board, send a daily email blast or create your own “WOW Wall” to recognize key players. This will not only inspire top performers to continue striving for excellence, but it will also encourage underperformers to step it up.

Group recognition is an important piece of the formula, but so is one-on-one acknowledgement. It is important for you, the superior, to recognize employees for their hard work. To be most effective, it needs to be done in person, and it takes more than saying, “Good work today.” Take time to tell your employees how they helped you and the organization and why you appreciate them. In doing this, you are cultivating a relationship with your employees, building loyalty and instilling an ownership mentality that will naturally lead to repeat behavior and will spread throughout the organization.

So, discover what makes your employees tick. What is a goal you can all stand behind, and how will you measure each employee’s progress daily? Recognize top performers in front of the entire organization, and then take it one step further and congratulate them face-to-face. Establish a culture of celebration and purpose, and you will go from $0 to $1.2B in no time.

Kristen Hadeed is the founder of Student Maid, which has more than 300 employees, and she is the Transition and Progression Planning Resource at the Center for Innovation and Economic Development business incubator. Student Maid was named the 2010 and 2011 “Leading Women’s Enterprise” by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, making it the first repeat winner in this category.

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1 Comment

  1. Debby Weigel

    You never cease to amaze me! You are totaly awesome and I couldn’t be more proud to know you personally, because this means so much more when I read it. You & your team rock!

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