A (well-deserved) media darling of late is Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, a company and ethos I’ve written about before. Inc. magazine recently published a terrific article that gets to the heart of Zappos’ culture and how Tony inspired his employees to create, nurture and keep that culture dear.

Most people who know of Zappos know of the company’s policy of giving all employees four weeks of intensive training on the company history, culture and job role. And then all are offered $2,000 to quit. This tactic weeds out employees motivated by the wrong reason – money – to retain those who will be committed to living out and adding to the company culture.

These highlights from the article illustrate well Hsieh’s focus:

“What he really cares about is making Zappos’ employees and customers feel really, really good because he has decided that his entire business revolves around one thing: happiness. Everything at Zappos serves that end.

“Zappos’ 1,300 employees talk about the place with a religious fervor. The phrase core values can prompt emotional soliloquies, and the CEO is held with a regard typically afforded rock stars and cult leaders.”

Can your employees even recite your core values, much less discuss them rapturously? What are you doing to make your values real? A Zappos value is “personal growth.” To that end, the company offers advanced courses in business and marketing as well as stocking a library with books that are expected to be taken by employees for their own use.

Bringing company values to life is a core tenet of our strategic recognition programmes. Every time an employee is recognised, that action or behaviour must be linked to a company value. This takes the values off the wall plaque or the office entry badge and makes them real in every employee’s every day actions.

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