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5 Easy Ways to Make Your Company Values Stick
Congratulations! When you finished your list of company values, you might have felt much the same way as you did on April 15th when you popped that tax return into the mail slot. It might have felt like a chore to you. Clearly defining your company values had to be done. When you finished you felt a surge of pride and enthusiasm and began to look forward to infecting everybody else in your operation with your vision. As you will learn, this vision is seriously contagious.
The real problem with mission statements and lists of core values is these critical documents often get filed away after their completion and are never used again.
The list of company values you are holding in your hands represent the keys to a whole new level of success and achievement far beyond your expectations. If you don’t use them, you’re passing up an amazingly valuable tool. Why on earth would you do that?
To Make Your Company Values Stick:
Live Them – Every day in every way, your employees feed off of your passion for these values. You are the first and foremost example of your company culture and, you ARE the living, breathing illustration of your company values. Your job is to lead by example. It is easy for employees to become confused when company values are not demonstrated or consistent.
Teach Them – No matter how small your company, you must take the time to educate your people. It is not enough for them to know what your product is and how it’s sold. Their education is incomplete until you’ve shared with them the values you and your teammates hold in esteem. It isn’t enough for the new kids to know what the values are; they must also know what you expect from them in terms of those values. They need to know, then observe those values in action until they catch the values bug. It gets easier when people buy in from the start, they begin to teach others the company code and then the culture begins to solidify. This is why hiring good natured people is critical.
Reinforce those values – It is important that company values are always discussed. In every meeting and in most interactions with team members you can always tie business activity back to your core values. For example you receive a glowing letter from a customer. One of your core values is 110% customer service all the time. You can use this as an opportunity to both praise the individual and remind everyone about your core values. The same goes for holding people accountable. One of my core values is it must be better than great from the client’s perspective. When a client gets frustrated and expresses these feelings, the first response is where did we under deliver on our core value of being better than great from our customer’s perspective? By drawing the accountability statement from the company core values the team member can remember what great performance looks like and work to achieve that better next time.
Gather Teammates who Support Them – when you hire, be very sure that your applicants can and will aspire to your company’s value system. If, for example, one of your values is volunteerism within the community and the applicant tells you, “Sure. As long as I get paid, I’ll stand on my head and stack bee bee’s,” [M1] you can write him off. He doesn’t understand the concept of volunteerism and he certainly won’t live it. Your employees are your most valuable tools. Choose them to fit within the machinery of your operation. Just because they are shiny and promising doesn’t mean they will add anything to the mix. Ask a man who has a metric wrench how it works on his 1945 Ford pickup. When on boarding have a cultural ambassador, by having this person teach the new person they will be reinforcing their own buy in of the company cultural values system and infecting others.
Use Them to Promote and/or Thin the Herd When Necessary –Make sure people are being promoted because they are strong cultural ambassadors and are competent to achieve in the new role. When somebody has earned a promotion because of his adherence to the company value system let everybody know. When somebody is unable or unwilling to toe the company value line and must be redeployed outside the company, let your people see that too. By demonstrating the advantages and disadvantages of being a team player is the best example of all. Teach your team they can trust you to be fair and even-handed. All good companies, like the Fortune 500 – and winning organizations, like the US Navy Seals – are built around the concept of trust. A bad hire is a drag on the team and a good hire gives them wings. You, as CEO, get to pick whichever one you want.
Identifying and listing the things which make you and, by association, your company tick can be a difficult task. Modeling your values can be even more challenging, but the challenge will pay off in the long run. Employees look to you at all times to demonstrate “how we do things here.” It simply makes sense to demonstrate the right ones. Or, as an wise, old Native American man in Montana once said, “If you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly.”
[M1]Really good advice
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