How to Create a Customer-Centered Corporate Culture

By Micah Solomon, a customer service speaker, customer service consultant, author and entrepreneur.   His latest book is  High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service. 

A strong, consciously developed pro-customer (and pro-employee) company culture is a business advantage that will serve you for years—and inoculate you against competitive inroads.  And unlike other business advantages, a strong company culture is almost entirely knockoff-proof.  Why?  Your competitors can be 100% relied on to not take the time to focus on the long-time-frame commitment needed to build one.

Here’s why a focus on culture is so powerful in ensuring success with customers:

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Yahoo – Telecommuting Culture Gone Wrong?


By Ann Rhoades

What’s wrong at Yahoo? Canceling work at home arrangements.

Recently Yahoo announced that it was canceling employee work from home arrangements for all employees. The resulting criticism has been varied but certainly loudest from employees. Critics point out the downside to employees such as productivity losses, commuting headaches, child care costs, and other increased employee costs as reasons for their dismay. From an employee relations point of view this policy change has been a viewed negatively and comes during a time when tech companies like Google are bending over backwards to keep a happy workforce.

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Company Focus: The Company that Culture Built-Infusionsoft

Companies who are living their values and exemplifying the concept of a high performing people-centric culture deserve recognition.  They serve as an example to model, learn from, and even envy. Today’s company focus in on technology company Infusionsoft “The company that culture built”

At Peopleink, we are pleased to see Infusionsoft’s focus, from day one, on building an exemplary culture through lived values Continue reading

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The Value of a Chief Culture Officer in Your Company

By Kyle Lagunas, guest writer.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)/Globoforce Winter 2012 employee recognition survey reported that 90% of the 770 HR leaders surveyed identified culture management as an important or very important challenge for their organization. To help address this challenge, more companies are hiring culture leaders or adding responsibilities to existing roles within the company. But should this role fall on one person or or does it reside with everyone in an organization?

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Five techniques to vastly improve your interviewing and hiring results

We’ve talked in prior articles about the importance of consistently living company values through clearly defined behaviors and why this is important. Today’s article is HOW TO select people who fit the values you have defined for your company.

Later in this article we have a product recommendation for you that makes the hiring process simpler and more effective. This product is directed towards the hospital and healthcare industries yet the principles discussed next can be applied to any company.

Are you still using ineffective interview techniques that don’t deliver the best results?

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Psychology At Work-Happy Employees Give Better Customer Service

By Alexa Thompson. (Alexa writes for an online psychology resource providing prospective students and professionals with useful information about the study of psychology.)

Employees give what they receive.

Businesses understand what good customer service is but are sometimes disappointed when delivery of a product or service is combined with poor employee attitudes.  Clearly customer service training and expertise is important in delivering a positive customer experience but how does the environment employees work in affect customer service? Is it reasonable to expect employees to provide a great customer experience when their managers are disgruntled or working conditions are tough? Businesses who want more than just a warm body to provide customer service might look at how internal company management affects employee attitudes and end customer outcomes. Continue reading

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5 Steps to Creating a Values-Rich Organizational Culture

by Ann Rhoades

Instilling values requires more than writing on the wall.

Just by looking at the behavior of leaders, you can tell what the values of a company really are. And all too often, those lived values bear almost no resemblance to the stated values — those lofty statements painted on the walls or sanctified in a mission statement. Many leaders want to believe that all they need to do is proclaim a set of values, and culture will magically change, but that does nothing to retool the actual values that inspire the day-to-day actions of employees on the front line.

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A Customer Service Culture-Congratulations to JetBlue Airways Award

Congratulations jet Blue on another customer service award.

Below is a June 13th letter from David Barger of JetBlue Airways informing crew members of the eighth consecutive J.D. Powers award for highest customer satisfaction.

JetBlue continues to astound.

If your looking for an example of how organizational culture can drive performance & customer satisfaction, look at JetBlue Airways. Continue reading

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Built On Values-Candidate for 2011 Book Award

Ann Rhoades’ Book on Organizational Culture becomes an Award Candidate

business book awardsThanks to everyone who has purchased the book Built On Values-Creating an enviable culture that outperforms the competition  by Ann RhoadesPeople Ink has received positive feedback from business leaders, companies, and clients about the value and usefulness of the book.  It is now a candidate for the 2011 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards.  Nominees for the the 2011 awards are posted here

The winning books, authors, and publishers from the categories of Marketing and Sales, General Business, Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Finance and Economics, Innovation and Creativity, Leadership, Management, and Personal Development will be announced in January 2012. Continue reading

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Values-Based Culture The New Hot Topic in Business Management?

Values Based Leadership and Cultures Based Upon Values is now apparently Hot.

A recent online article by The Economist Magazine reports that Walmart is trying to instill a “Values-Based” organizational culture. Congratulations. If you need help please call us :-)

“AS WALMART grew into the world’s largest retailer, its staff were subjected to a long list of dos and don’ts covering every aspect of their work. Now the firm has decided that its rules-based culture is too inflexible to cope with the challenges of globalisation and technological change, and is trying to instil a “values-based” culture, in which employees can be trusted to do the right thing because they know what the firm stands for.”    source The Economist Magazine Continue reading

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Employee Engagement Starts by Hiring “A” Players.

Gayle Watson, V.P. Of People Ink answers questions about employee engagement and organizational culture.

Employee Engagement and Management Practices.

Question: Lately I’ve been reading about employee engagement at work and strategies to help promote employee engagement. To me some employees seem more motivated about doing a good job and it’s not really a management issue. Do you think an engaged workforce is up to management or is it that some people are just more engaged because of the innate personal qualities they have such as integrity?

“Fundamentally, you have to have the right people working for you”

Gayle: Well, it’s both, but most importantly employee engagement comes down to hiring the right people, the people that reflect the Values of your organization. Of course you can do things to reinforce employee engagement, but fundamentally you have to have the right people and if you don’t have the right people, then you won’t be able to engage them.  There is a saying, that you can teach a squirrel to fly, but it’s easier to hire the eagle. Continue reading

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Defining Your Organization’s Values-A Step towards Intentional Workplace Culture

We recently received this question from a reader:

“I have a quick question….  I am working with a client to define “values.”  Bought your book and discovered that the Values Team is doing much of what you suggest, which is nice to learn! However, we are getting very hung up on what is a value, vs. a strategy.  I don’t find any distinguishing definitions in the book.  Any help?”

What are Organizational Values?

This is a great question and one we get asked frequently when we are facilitating Values Blueprint® Workshops. Organizational Values are those beliefs held so strongly that they drive people’s behavior and dictate how people interact with and treat each other. Values, together with their defined Behaviors, set the minimum expectation of behavior for everyone in your organization, and help to lay the ground work for your company’s culture. We call this set of Values and Behaviors a Values Blueprint®. If your organization has been working on its culture for some time, then all employees should be able to state your organization’s Values and describe the Behavior that is expected of them.

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Interview Strategy-Your Quest to Attract Top Talent

Hire the Best People with a Values-Based Interview Strategy

By: Ann Rhoades, author of Built on Values: Creating an Enviable Culture that Outperforms the Competition (Jossey-Bass, 2011.)

In your quest to attract top talent, are you hiring too many people who are just average? Why not let your best people help you select candidates who are a better fit for your corporate culture?

Getting your best people – your A Players – involved in the hiring process is a technique I call values interviewing, as part of a values-based hiring strategy.

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How Google has become one of the world’s most enviable workplaces

Can lava lamps and beanbags REALLY inspire innovation?

This is a guest post by Kursty Groves of (visit their site to read more interesting articles on workplace culture, design, creativity)

News travels fast when there’s a new cool office that’s been opened – especially when that office belongs to one of the most talked-about companies in the world: Google.  With about a billion requests processed per day by the ubiquitous search machine, Google’s bid to ‘organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ is ever-becoming a reality.   But what’s just as remarkable as the bold business ambition is the expectations on what Google demands of its work spaces.

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Corporate Culture Award of Distinction to Juniper Networks.

Congratulations to Juniper Networks for making the list of World’s Most Ethical Companies for 2011.

We are very pleased that one of our former clients is being recognized among the top companies in the world. :-) What follows is  a letter written to Ann Rhoades of People Ink from Gregory Pryor, vice president of leadership and organization effectiveness at Juniper Networks.

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Ann Rhoades Overview of Values-Based Leadership.

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Ann Rhoades provides overview of Values-Based Organizational Leadership. Video.

What drives performance in values based organizations?

The basic model that we teach and use is that organizational leaders drive the values, values then drive the behaviors, the behaviors drive the culture, and the culture ultimately defines the performance.

Organizational leadership modelSuccessful Organizations are Predictable

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It’s Official- In Bookstores Now-Built on Values

By Ann Rhoades

It has been over a year in the making but my new book is finally out in book stores. Yippee!!  This is a photo from a local Barnes & Noble store. More photos will be forthcoming.   I would like to express my thanks to all the people who have helped bring this to publication including my partners, colleagues, clients, and friends whom I list in the book.  No book is written alone and for all those who have contributed I consider it our book.  My fervent wish is that the knowledge I have helped develop over the years will be useful to organizations looking to create a desirable work place where people are treated fairly and hopefully encouraged to reach both organizational and individual potential.

Normally I leave writing of books to the professors but with the many requests over the years to put our culture management model into print it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor and one that I believe people can take and literally apply within their organizations.  Look for more information, content, even videos in the near future.

built on values book

Our local Barnes & Noble

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Creating a Successful Corporate Culture-Q&A

The following excerpt was made through The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (a dynamic, global network of more than 7,500 business owners in 38 countries)

Q&A with Ann Rhoades, author of Built on Values: Creating an Enviable Culture that Outperforms the Competition.Based on Ann’s years of experience with JetBlue, Southwest and other companies known for their trailblazing corporate cultures, Built on Values reveals exactly how leaders can create winning environments that allow their employees and their companies to thrive.

Overdrive: How integral is a company’s culture to its overall success and profitability?

AnnR: Every company has a culture, but a negative culture – where employees feel used up and spit out – works against your ability to succeed and make profit. You need a positive culture that empowers people to outperform the competition. High performers like JetBlue, Southwest, GE, Starbucks and Zappos, have a strong, distinct culture that employees are conscious of and use every day. Leaders need to keep in mind that companies like Pan Am, Eastern Airlines and even Enron had strong cultures in the beginning that ultimately became negative and failed their people. Continue reading

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Expert Ideas on Creating Your Organizational Culture (Podcast)

Ann Rhoades is featured on The Cranky Middle Manager Show. Visit the site to download the audio podcast or listen to it online.  Useful and practical ideas on shaping your company’s organizational culture. Below are the show notes of topics covered in the podcast:

Today Wayne Turmel talks to author Ann Rhoades about her new book: “Built on Values, Creating an Enviable Culture That Outperforms the Competition”.

  • Can you consciously create a culture or is it something that happens by accident?

  • How do you decide on your values and how can your company actually stick to them?

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Built on Values – Inspiring a Values-Rich Organizational Culture

By Ann Rhoades.

(This article was published in the January 2011 edition of Leadership Excellence Magazine which I recommend as a valuable leadership development resource. More information about the magazine is at bottom of this page)

The Behavior of Leaders Tells the Real Values…

…of a company. Often, the values as they are lived bear little resemblance to stated values sanctified in a mission statement. Some leaders believe that all they need to do is proclaim a set of values and culture will magically change, but that does nothing to retool the values that control actions on the front line. Changing those inherent values takes more effort and can’t be done by any leader or executives acting alone.

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Creating a High Performance Team- Book Review of The Orange Revolution

Creating High Performance Teams for your Organization

As of today The Orange revolution is currently in the top 25 on Amazon in the categories of leadership and management. Congratulations.  We give The Orange Revolution a thumbs up and high recommendations.  This book will have broad appeal but be especially useful to department and project mangers, human resources, business leaders, CEO’s, and other executives. Anyone gathering to work with others as a group will walk away with something useful from this book.

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Build Customer Loyalty with Transparency

A great deal has been written about customer service.

In our experience, transparency is the differentiating factor between good and great customer service companies.

Leaders who… make decisions based on what is “right” for the customer, above all other considerations, win customer loyalty in the long term leading to sustainable bottom-line results.

PPI graphic 5 steps circle-cust transparency

Principle four - People Ink Culture Model

Leaders of values-centric cultures do a few key things consistently to ensure good customer service. Some keys for success include:

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Retain Your Best Employees by Re-Recruiting Them Daily

Retain Employees by Re-recruiting Them Daily

This is step three of People Ink’s values-based leadership model for creating great organizational cultures.

  • Principle One: Define your corporate culture by starting with a values blueprint.
  • Principle Two: Hire “A” players who mirror the values of your organization.     The hiring model.

Great, you have successfully defined your company’s core values and associated behaviors, you have or are are beginning to hire “A” players on your team. But it isn’t enough just to hire “A” players. You must continually exceed the expectations of your people and re-recruit them every day. Don’t make the mistake of failing to recognize or spend time with “A” players. Leaders often assume “A” players don’t require attention. Most leaders invariably spend the majority of their time with “C” players trying to change their behavior. In our experience, “C” players are people who are in the wrong job at the wrong time. And most likely, they can not, or will not, change their behaviors. Continue reading

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The Hiring Model for Values Based Cultures and Organizations

This is part two of People Ink’s five step model for implementing a values based culture.

In our Values Based Leadership Model hiring “A” players who Mirror the Values of the organization is a key step.The first requirement to a successful implementation of a values based organizational culture is establishing your Base Values Blueprint (Article Here). The Second component of implementing a high performing  values based culture relates to recruiting and hiring.

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Define Your Corporate Culture-Start With a Values Blueprint

Principle One: The Five Step Model- Defining the Values Your Organization Will Live By.

Values are the heartbeat of the organization.  For some companies values seem unnoticed because there is nothing special about them and little attention has been put on them. For other companies, values have become a strategic weapon that distinguishes them from competitors and that customers notice and prefer.  (Starbucks, Southwest, Zappos). Like it or not your organization has values which have been instilled and driven home (intentionally or not) by the behaviors and decision making of your leaders.

There is truth in the saying,  “People don’t listen to you speak: They watch your feet”

organizations built on values

The behavior of leaders determines the corporate culture. Continue reading

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