Don’t Underestimate the Power of Company Culture

Very few companies have a stronger culture than Chick-fil-A. That doesn’t happen by accident.

The founder of Chick-fil-A was a man named S. Truett Cathy. Much has been written about him and his influence – particularly since his passing in 2014.

Your Culture Is Your Brand sign in a conceptual imageI recently had the benefit of listening to the Vice President of Corporate Talent at Chick-fil-A speak at a conference. Her name is Dee Ann Turner and she has worked at Chick-fil-A for more than 30 years. The book she wrote and released a few weeks ago is called It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and A Compelling Culture.

Turner articulated some of the aspects of Cathy and his leadership which drove the Chick-fil-A culture to become what it is today. For example, she said:

  • Cathy modeled servant leadership long before it was the rage
  • As times changed, Truett didn’t change. His stores remained closed on Sundays

She also pointed out that “We don’t each just have a story, we are a story.” It makes you stop and think about what story you are telling.

Be intentional about it. Those stories make up your company culture. Learn what others say about your company’s culture. If you don’t know, look online at resources like GlassDoor.

In the work Turner did over the years around talent selection, the guidance Cathy gave her helped her understand that if you select the right person, all of the other things are easy to accomplish. He believed “We’re not in the chicken business, we’re in the people business.”

This philosophy drove the creation of the Chick-fil-A purpose, mission and core values which remain intact today. They all center around the employees and the customer experience. None of them focus on chicken.

Learn from the Chick-fil-A business successes. Ensure your company takes the time regularly to step back and create and/or re-assess its’ purpose. Be certain you and your employees can articulate a meaningful purpose that focuses on more than the products or services you provide. When you take care of your employees and create a culture where THEY thrive, your customers benefit every single time. The revenues will follow.

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1 or on email at Sign up to receive her and her colleagues’ blog at Current.