Your Communication Style is Your Culture, Ask Costco

Your Communication Style is Your Culture, Ask Costco

Your communication is your culture not the elegantly worded company Culture Vision. What do I mean? Your employees’ sense of the company is how the leaders of the company communicate, listen, and respond daily not just in prepared or formal situations. Research proves that in a culture where employees feel heard and valued, they do their best work.

At the end of 2023, Costco’s location in Norfolk, Virginia voted to unionize. This was surprising. Costco is known for competitive salaries, excellent benefits, great support from management and a collaborative environment. Glassdoor rates it as a “Top 100 Places to Work”.

However, Costco’s Norfolk employees voted to unionize with the Teamsters.  And did Costco blame their employees? No! Did it fire the organizers? Cut their hours? Trash talk the union and its supporters? No, no, and no. Instead, Costco took ownership for its part in its employees having to look outside the company to have their issues addressed.

The CEO and President jointly responded to their employees committing to do better not to blame or express frustration or disappointment at their employees. They expressed that while they are “disappointed by the result” in the union election, their disappointment is not in the company’s employees, but “in ourselves as managers and leaders.” The letter continues, “The fact that a majority of employees felt that they wanted or needed a union constitutes a failure on our part.” I attached the full letter below as a great example of full communication and opening the door for improvement.

If your company wants a healthy culture marked by high performance, collaboration, and low turnover, the first step is to review your communication style and identify where it can be improved. This is not criticism of leadership or the company, just accepting that everything can be improved. This starts with asking your employees in a safe manner, This will create a culture where employees feel heard and valued, and then do their best work.

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