This is the final installment in our series on organizational alignment. In our first post, we shared strategies for achieving alignment. In post two, we pointed out the common barriers that prevent companies from getting there. Today, we’ll share three real-life organizations that are crushing it. All aspects of their businesses (including leadership and employees) are working in tandem to achieve the company’s goals. Here are three companies that rock at organizational alignment and this is how they’re doing it:
Publix: Giving Employees a Stake in the Company’s Success
This Southern supermarket chain’s biggest credos is promoting from within. In fact, their CEO, Todd Jones, began his career as a cashier. All employees (working 20 hours or more) of this Fortune 500 company receive a stake in its stock after a year. Publix is actually the largest employee-owned company in the U.S. Considering each of these workers actually owns a piece of the business, it’s easy to see why Publix’s customer service shines.
Managers conduct performance reviews for feedback every six months and employees are eligible for raises at those times, too. So, the opportunity for an employee to increase their salary occurs twice every year.
Since customer service is key to Publix’s mission, it employs more associates than typical supermarkets. When plenty of associates are on the floor, shoppers are able to get the assistance they need. This strategy has created customer loyalty in a time when the supermarket landscape keeps getting more complex. That’s why Publix is among the most profitable grocers in the country.
Zappos: Where Company Culture is Top Priority
Another company that aligns their employees with their core customer service value is Zappos. This online shoe retailer’s CEO, Tony Hsieh, believes that when people are comfortable, they do their best work. That’s why instead of focusing on work/life balance, at Zappos, the focus is on “work/life integration.” Zappos’ leadership believes work should be one part of your life, not something that needs to be balanced with the rest of it.
Hsieh himself directly interviewed the first 50 employees of the company to make sure they fit in with the culture. To scale that, he now has the people he hired and who understand the culture, help hire others that fit the company dynamic, too.
Potential employees undergo two rounds of interviews. The first is about skill and experience. The second is all about personality and whether or not they fit the culture. Even if a potential employee has a stellar resume, they’ll lose out on the job if they’re not a right fit. Zappos will let go of an employee who isn’t jiving with the organization. In fact, after a one-month training period, Zappos even offers a $4,000 check to someone if they choose to walk away from the gig. Only 2% of new hires have taken the offer and left.
Once employees are part of the team, they can award a colleague with a $50 bonus each month. And employees who receive these bonuses are eligible for the HERO award: The recipient gets a $150 bonus and wears a cape for a day.
Because fitting in with the culture is so important – and Zappos’ core value focuses on customer service, each employee is fully dedicated to the customers they serve. This plays out in a number of different ways. A Zappos employee once spent over 10 hours on a customer service call. If an item is out of stock at Zappos, associates will actually recommend an item from a competitor. And all of their returns are hassle-free. These factors, help them save money on traditional marketing, because their customers advertise for them via word of mouth. With over $2 billion in annual revenue, it seems to be working.
3M: Innovation is King
3M (creator of the Post-it®, Scotch™ tape, and countless medical devices) is consistently in Fortune’s List of the World’s Most Admired Companies. It was even chosen as the third most innovative company in the world in a 2016 study and clearly prizes innovation as one of its most important core values. Leaders there have built an environment conducive to creating.
Here’s how: They allow employees to spend 15% of their time working on an innovative project of their own choosing. Each division within the company is required to generate 30% of their revenue from products created within the past four years, so the pressure is on to keep launching. And dual career tracks allow employees to continue to grow and be promoted within the company, without becoming managers. This way, 3M doesn’t lose great scientists and innovators to gain mediocre or poor managers.
Another important element of their culture is that they recognize and celebrate success through cash prizes and internal awards. But, they don’t penalize failures. In fact, within the organization, there are a number of famous “failure stories” that are told again and again about how certain failures led to the creation of some of 3M’s biggest selling products.
These three businesses show that clearly defining your company’s core values is key, but so is actively creating ways for employees to put them into practice. And when employees feel valued and embrace the culture, even better.