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Words that shape a culture

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At Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Mich., you’ll hear employees talking passionately about the 5 Steps to Handling Customer Complaints, 3 Steps to Great Service and 4 Steps to Productive Resolution of Differences.

Zingerman’s owners have brilliantly shaped their strategic initiatives into a simple, teachable set of principles.

It’s their vision, really. And it’s so clearly articulated that everyone who works for Zingerman’s embraces the business philosophy and performs their jobs like fine-tuned machines.

“All those three-step things really do work,” says bakery worker Amy Emberling, “but they also gave us a language to talk to each other.”

Bottom line: Create a common language to direct, build and stimulate your team. Like Zingerman’s, you’ll end up with a culture both intellectually stimulating and unifying.

—Adapted from “The Coolest Small Company in America,” Bo Burlingham, Inc., www.inc.com.

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