Can you recite your company’s values? And, if so, can you honestly say that the way your company sets priorities, spends money and invests in the future is consistent with those values? If they are to help you build and grow your business, your values need to be reflected in everything you do as the leader of your company.
1. Discover what your company really values
Having company values is a lot more than throwing words like “integrity” into a picture frame and hanging it in your conference room, never to be discussed or regarded again. If you aren’t sure what your values are, you won’t have to look far. What do you spend your money on? What do you train your employees to do? What kinds of employees do you hire? What is at the core of your strategic and tactical plans? What does your organization value?
2. Recruit and hire based on your values
Once you know what you value, you will be well served to hire people who already share those same values. Recruit in places that attract those values and develop behavioral questions to assess if the job candidates you interview possess the values you desire. Will the candidate fit in with the people and help carry forward the company you have been working so hard to build? This doesn’t mean you hire a homogeneous group of people who think and do everything he same.
3. Train employees on your values
Devote the first two to five minutes of every meeting to a brief discussion on one of your company’s values. Let’s assume one of your values is “Quality in everything you do.” Share an example you saw of an employee who exemplified this value. Share an example of where you saw the company fail in living up to this value. Ask for input from others. Commit everyone to carry the same message to all of their direct reports and encourage everyone to do better.
4. Build processes and systems around your values
One of the main reasons company values end up adding no value is a disconnect between those values and how things get done in a company. If one of your values is “Empower every employee to serve the customer,” then don’t create layers of approval to solve a simple customer problem or complaint. Create processes and systems consistent with what you value, or your employees and customers may become confused between what you say you will do and what you actually do.
5. Establish strategic and tactical plans in harmony with your values
Nothing is more frustrating or confusing than when upper-management makes a decision that is inconsistent with the values of the company. If management doesn’t respect and honor the company's values, then neither will employees.
6. Spend according to your values
Let’s assume again that one of your values is, “Hire the best and train them to be even better.”
If your company consistently pays in the bottom quartile for similar jobs, then it is not hiring the best, who are found in the upper half of most pay scales. The company’s failure to establish any meaningful or beneficial training, formal or informal, seems to be overshadowed by all of the billboard ads purchased along the highway. The focus of the ads—come work for the best. But those who already work there know the ads cannot be trusted, nor can adherence to any of the company values by those with spending authority in the company.
7. Celebrate success in the context of your values
Your values may not include “make a lot of profit,” so don’t just celebrate that fact when it happens. Put the financial and other successes of the business in context of all the company’s values and how those values helped you achieve your success.