Zappos Holacracy Timeline
Tony saw Brian Robertson, the creator of Holacracy, speak at a conference.Close
Tony had an introductory meeting about Holacracy to explore the idea.Close
A small group of Zapponians went to a 2-day offsite to further explore the potential of Holacracy to help decide if it was right for Zappos.Close
Our HR department (consisting of ~70 people at the time) became a pilot group to test Holacracy within Zappos.Close
Tony officially announced the plan to use Holacracy at our company-wide All Hands Meeting.Close
Holacracy officially began to roll out to Zappos as a whole.Close
Zappos’ own implementation team started training all employees on Holacracy in-house (we were originally being trained by HolacracyOne).Close
Tony sent out a company-wide e-mail where Zappos employees first received “The Holacracy Offer”. The e-mail contained what our vision of the future was at the time. In the years that followed, we would come to better understand what self-management really was, as well as tailor Holacracy to fit our unique needs. As one example, the e-mail mentioned that we no longer had a need for "people managers", because Holacracy uses "Lead Links" in their place. As we would later learn, we still very much had a need for the skills, knowledge, experience, and leadership that most formal managers had.
It shared what our vision of the future was at the time. In the years that followed, we would come to better understand what self-management really was, as well as tailor Holacracy to fit our unique needs. As one example, the e-mail mentioned that we no longer had a need for "people managers", because Holacracy uses "Lead Links" in their place. As we would later learn, we still very much had a need for the skills, knowledge, experience, and leadership that most formal managers had.
Holacracy training became part of our New Hire onboarding process, ensuring that every new employee to be hired would go through Holacracy training as well.Close
Holacracy was finally rolled out to the last team in Zappos, marking the technical end of the “implementation” period.Close
The majority of the company went through an updated training to get everyone on the same page about what has changed over the years, what’s most important, and what self-management should look like at Zappos.Close
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Great culture leads to employee happiness. The same way a toxic culture leads to unhappiness. Happy employees means higher engagement, profitability, and low turnover.
Our culture would not be what is it today without the people, past and present. We are all protectors and cultivators of the Zappos Culture; it's what makes it unique and something that changes every day.
I love that I get to be me all day. The culture encourages you to be the same person you are at work as you are at home. I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not, which makes Zappos a comfortable place to be.
Every company has a unique culture that's all their own. Just like every person has their own personality, every company has their own culture. Building a culture is a special process that can't be taken lightly. It's the responsibility of every employee to represent and foster culture.
Work can be fun! We have 2 annual parties at Zappos. Our Vendor Party where we invite all of our brands to thank them and celebrate our partnership. And, our employee holiday party. Past epic party themes have ranged from Mardi Gras and old-school hip-hop to a Hawaiian luau at a waterpark. Each has had its own twists and tricks to surprise and delight partygoers. This year, we invited our vendors to run away with us to the “Untamed Circus."
Your culture doesn't stay the same, it will continue to evolve. Having a defined set of values will serve as your guide to continue your culture's growth and evolution in a positive direction.
Not Always Measured
A strong culture means lower employee burnout and therefore, lower turnover. It leads to higher employee engagement and higher profitability. But really, companies should focus on their culture because it matters. Because it's just the right thing to do. To quote Tony Hsieh, "Just because you can’t measure the ROI of something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. What’s the ROI on hugging your mom?"
Companies and employees worry about work-life separation or work-life balance. But why? Wouldn't you rather be a company where your employees easily combine their full self into everything they do? Wouldn't you rather work for a company whose focus on culture allows your job to integrate with your life? It shouldn't be a struggle to find a balance between life and work where you are truly fulfilled and happy.
Your vendors have the same objective as you: to sell their product, be successful in their work, and maybe have some fun while doing it. Something unique that Zappos does is allow brand representatives access to all the same sales and inventory information on their products that Zappos has. By working as a team, by partnering, you are setting the stage for success!
Your company has a culture. You may not have "planned" it. You may not like it. Or maybe you love it. But it's there. It is real. You can choose to be thoughtful about your company culture. You can set values and identify the behaviors that you want to be the core of your culture. That part is fairly easy. The hard part, is committing to the values once they are set. Living them.
Values are more than just words, they're a way of life. They are the foundation of your company culture. We know that companies with a strong culture and a higher purpose perform better in the long run. As we continue to grow, we strive to ensure that our culture remains alive and well.
A company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand is just a lagging indicator of the culture.