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Blog : I want to be part of their team...


I want to be part of their team...

A recent news story about a team working for a US based company winning a $1 million dollar lottery syndicate at first wouldn’t generate much interest, however, this story attracted global attention as the winnings were shared with a team member who had opted out of the syndicate. For many teams this would not be an obvious decision, after all, the team member in question had had the option to participate. However, the attitude of the team at Keller Williams Realty, and Laura Finkelstein Reader, the team leader was; "we all win together or we lose together. She's one of us."

This inclusive, team focused ethos can only be driven by shared organisational culture and team dynamics. This story is an obvious illustration of the importance of organisations being dedicated to cultivating behaviours that deliver this.

Organisational culture doesn’t have to be a complex entity. Organisations that generally do it well (think Pets at Home and rackspace) have shared norms and values which are driven from the top. This notion is something that Keller Williams also demonstrates in abundance. They have a belief system called the WI4C2TS which provides a clear guide for employees around how to treat each other and do business. Furthermore, Vice Chairman, Mo Anderson, is credited with “continuously cultivating the firm’s value system, inspiring tens of thousands of associates throughout North America to maintain high standards of character within both their personal and professional lives.”

For example, one of Keller Williams’ beliefs is - ‘Teamwork: together everyone achieves more.’ The actions of this team truly bring this value to life and show an engaged workforce, who are loyal and committed to each other.

A situation like a lottery win can perhaps be seen as an ultimate test of organisational culture. In the case of Keller Williams, if the team had reacted any other way, it would have gone against the value system that has been so carefully fostered and adopted by its people.

If this is how they treat their employees; then the service they give their customers must be something to shout about as well. (In fact, they have won several awards for customer service). Whilst I’m not planning to buy a condo in Florida, if I was, this is the kind of open, trustworthy and integrity driven company that I’d want to deal with.

Their values driven approach also significantly impacts the bottom line. When the company announced its final profit share total for 2012 it added up to more than $55 million in profits distributed to its associates. This isn’t just about being engaged; it’s about good business.

However, as research from Gallup shows only 30% of employees are engaged and nearly one in five (18%) workers are actively disengaged, meaning that, unlike Keller Williams, the majority of organisations aren’t reaping the benefits that a highly engaged workforce offers.

It’s important that organisations have ‘acid tests’ in place to measure and drive engagement in order to increase profits. Here is how some of the most people savvy organisations are doing it –

  • Clearly define your ‘people promise’ (or Employee Value Proposition’ (EVP)) and deliver it. Here’s how Facebook (voted #1 company to work for by glassdoor are doing it)
  • Define your values and the behaviours that bring these values to life. Too many organisations don’t do the latter and then wonder why their values do not stick. Make it memorable – posters, intranet sites, compelling team briefs and even coffee mugs that shout about the values and behaviours are all things that you can do. Talk about it constantly (but it keep it fresh and relevant)
  • Ensure regular feedback mechanisms are in places enabling people to explore and understand ‘how things are done round here’ and how they are developing and contributing to organisational goals. At Purple Cubed we find ‘coffee chats’ are an inspiring way of doing this
  • Measure employee engagement and act on the feedback –  you can try out our free survey as a starting point
  • Make all employee journey meaningful – as this Forbes article suggests create a “Purpose inspired mission”.
  • Create your own Purple Plan to ensure all bases are covered and that the people journey from start to finish is an inspiring and profitable one!

How would your team react in Keller Williams’ situation?

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