SHRM11: Passion Is The Word

Each time I attend a conference, there seems to be a theme that I hear emerging.  At SHRM 11 Annual Conference, the theme I’m hearing is passion.


Interesting word to throw around at a HR conference, right?  Even so, we talk about having passionate employees, passionate customers, passionate leaders.  The compelling emotion that can connect a person to an organization is the magic ingredient that companies are looking for.  It’s what I heard in two very different sessions.

Delivering Happiness

I began yesterday morning with a keynote presentation by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.  As leader of one of the most touted, highly innovative, customer service organizations, he did not disappoint.  Tony shared personal stories, recollections, jokes and challenges he and his company have tackled over the last few years.

The way Zappos actually delivers happiness sounds quite simple.  They view themselves as a, “service company that just happens to sell shoes.”  They take that and focus themselves on being the very best at listening to and serving their customer base.  What are some tactics they employ?

  • They don’t use scripts or have time limits to their calls.
  • They accept returns for 365 days and offer free shipping, both ways.
  • They hire only people who are a true culture fit.  Even if the candidate is highly qualified in other areas, if they are not a culture fit, they do not receive an offer.
  • All company employees go through call center training and man the phones for two weeks.  They must understand how to take calls from real customers in order to be better engaged in the business.
  • Their social media policy is “Be real and use your best judgement”.

By focusing on customer service and then delivering it consistently, they hope that their customers will actually be their marketing evangelists.  It’s a great strategy and is working well for them.  So, the customers show their passion.  The employees too seem to love the work and the company and are certainly passionate about why they are working there.

The real question is how do we capture that and apply it in our own organizations? I’ve heard more than a few people say it sounds so simple but yet it’s seems complex to actually execute.

Stay tuned for my next post where we dive into the application.  I heard some great info from the Ryan Estis session that ties it nicely together.

More soon from SHRM 11…..

6 Replies to “SHRM11: Passion Is The Word”

  1. I love this post – and I’m jealous that you got to listen to Tony Hsieh! He’s been a major inspiration for me on both a customer service and social media level.

  2. The philosophy that mr. zappos LIVES is ‘cos he wants everyone in his midst to live it like THEIR LIVES DEPEND ON IT!!!!

    Believe me, as I have experienced customer service FIRST HAND, customer service IS their primary goal.

    Starts from the top.

  3. Great post, Trish. The question you ask is the critical component – HOW? I gave my detailed answer to that in my post on my take-aways from Tony’s inspiring speech.

    It’s important to consider this not only from the angle Tony has of starting from scratch, but how to do change the culture in a decades old institution and how can you keep a culture you worked hard to develop after succession/transition to new leadership.

    That’s what I try to answer here:

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