Hire And Fire Like Zappos – One of Fortune’s “Top 100 Best Companies To Work For”

April 12, 2013 — Leave a comment


Ever heard of a company called Zappos?  If you have, you probably already know that their customer service is second to none.  Of course this directly correlates to their very intentional corporate culture and their ongoing success.  If you haven’t heard of them, I suggest you check them out before you are ready to buy your next pair of shoes, pants, or handbag!

As I eluded to in my headline, Zappos has ranked multiple times on Fortune Magazine’s “Top 100 Best Companies To Work For” list.  This isn’t an easy list to get on; let alone stay on.  The list is based on surveys of the employees ranked against several hundred other companies.  A who’s who of solid organizations; all of which are willing participants in this fishbowl competition of their employee satisfaction.

With that being said, I just looked up Zappos’ for the past several years…and there they are.  While they have moved down the ranks a bit, they are still in the top third every year I looked at.

If that doesn’t get your attention, how about a billion dollars in sales?  Not enough?  How about being acquired by Amazon and still remaining on that list?  Pretty impressive, right?

So, how do they do it?

Want to improve your team?
Sign up now to receive my free ebook: "ENGAGE YOUR TEAM - 5 Steps To Epic Results."
We hate spam just as much as you

Much has been written about the young CEO Tony Hsieh (Pronounced Shay) and his unique style of “Delivering Happiness” to his employees.  However, instead of me trying to dissect his entire leadership style without going deep, I’m going to focus on a few of Tony’s own words to see what we can learn today.

Check out this short video interview with Tony Hsieh (48 seconds):

Here’s my bullet points from what he said:

  • Culture is a #1 priority.
  • New hires must pass two sets of interviews.
    • First, the hiring manager checks for fit within the team, relevant experience, & technical ability.
    • Second, the HR manager checks for fit within the company culture.
  • Performance reviews are 50% based on living up to and inspiring the culture standards.
  • To close the loop, they fire existing people if they don’t fit in with the culture.

This all sounds good on paper, but living up to it is another thing.  That’s why making the Fortune Top 100 list repeatedly gives them so much credibility.  You can’t just claim this stuff without backing it up.  And clearly they do!

So what is the culture at this place?  That’s kind of important isn’t it?  Here is the self proclaimed “Zappos Family Core Values”:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

Watch this video of the employees themselves talking about the Zappos Family Core Values:

I have to admit, this isn’t exactly what I expected when I first heard about Zappos.  I mean, how do you fire someone for not living up to some of these values?  How does HR manage to filter these values in an interview?  How does Tony stay humble (#10)?  Who calls him out if he’s not cutting the mustard?  I’d love to ask them!  Maybe that’s a future podcast episode??

Either way, can you imagine if you were able to keep these values a real priority in your organization?  How much they could impact your bottom line?  Add these values to a solid product offering and competitive prices; your closest competitor might actually be worried.

All of this is to say that Zappos’ culture helps them to attract talented like minds…passionate like minds at that.  It also helps them to focus their efforts and clear the table for an incredible customer experience.  Reality check: if you don’t see something on that list that you or your team or your entire organization could benefit from, then you should probably go read another site.

Question: How important is the culture in your team?  How do you maintain that?