Get inspired by Zappos, CallMe and Relationwise’s new Culture Book

Budgets need to be stuck and quotas need to be filled. The methods are described in several company bibles which are often written by famous academics from renowned business schools around the world. We all know them: there are rules about nearly everything. There are methods, systems and procedures for solving problems. How far you need to go is often defined by – and presumably based on – statistical calculations that determine the extent of the positive effects and how large the economic profit is expected to be. When all is said and done, helpfulness becomes a limiting full stop at the end of a massive paragraph extension in an otherwise irrelevant statute.

There is, however, another way.

The company Zappos, an American online clothing store, revolutionised the concept of company culture by introducing what I like to call a ‘kick-ass company culture’. The idea was simple: If the employees love coming to work in the morning, this will motivate them to turn up on time. Then, whilst they’re at work, they not only enjoy themselves, but are also considerably more productive.

It can often be quite tricky to create an environment in which employees feel that they’re co-owners of the company and want to take responsibility, not only for themselves but for the company as a whole. The CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, felt that there had to be another way of doing things. His theory was that if you removed the quotas and rules and showed more faith in people, then employees would be better at connecting with the customers and positively representing the company.

In order to strengthen the sense of community within Zappos, they introduced an annual yearbook in which people could write their own paragraph with a quote or a short story they wanted to share with the rest of the company. Giving their employees a sense of community and freedom worked out well. The company, which was founded in the late 90’s, was racing ahead and reached an annual turnover of one billion dollars after just nine years. In 2009, Zappos was bought by Amazon for several billion dollars. Zappos has proven that a responsible and free company culture creates results much like better relations: not just happy customers, but enthusiastic customers.

The Danish telecom company CallMe has likewise experimented with ‘kick-ass company culture’. It has created better results by changing conventional methods. Just like Zappos’ employees, the employees at CallMe are encouraged to work harder. Every year, the company publishes a yearbook with contributions from all staff members. This practice goes hand-in-hand with numerous other activities to help create a culture in which they feel deeply involved in their work and the people they serve. When an employee chooses to travel across town on his lunch break in order to personally deliver a SIM card to a customer, then you know that he takes his job, the company and – most importantly – the customer seriously.

CallMe might not be the cheapest phone provider on the market. They also may not have the best coverage compared to other phone providers. Nevertheless, this doesn’t matter because the customers know that they will be provided world-class support. Better relations and faithful and enthusiastic customers are the natural results of a ‘kick-ass company culture’.