I have worked with many companies over the years that are global, established, profitable and successful. These companies have great products with well-known brands and they have experienced dynamic teams.
So why, you may be asking, have these companies felt the need to engage with a business coach?
Values and culture. You see, a company’s strength can sometimes not come from its strategy or products or services, but rather from the way it behaves.
No matter whether your company is a start-up or a well-established organisation, whether it is big or small, whether it is struggling or successful, if your values are not in place, and if you are not practicing these values continuously, you will find challenges in the workplace.
I can’t stress the importance of values enough. Your company values set the tone for the way you do business. They are guiding principles for decision making. They dictate the service you offer your customers, the way you deal with suppliers, the way you communicate with investors and shareholders, the people you hire and the dynamics within your team.
When you don’t have strong values in place, the values of the people you employ take over. Their values may be different to yours. And there lies the challenge. Expectations are not clear, decision making is clouded, the rules of the game are undefined, and you are simply not on the same page.
I work with many clients who apply their minds to their values in varying degrees. Some business owners simply apply their personal values to the business, but they do not document or communicate them to the rest of the team. Others identify their values but never revisit them and they don’t “live” them. And some businesses embrace the concept of brand values and apply them to performance measures and day to day operations.
Whatever stage your business is in, it is probably time to revisit the concept of values and take your value proposition to the next level.
- Identify your values – What behaviours are valued by your organisation? “The way things are done around here.” The non-negotiable guiding principles.
- Get buy-in from your team – If your values are not in place, include the team in determining what your values are. If you already have company values, ask the team to identify their own values and determine if their individual values are aligned with the company values.
- Define the values – In order to ensure a common understanding of the values, each value needs a brief definition to explain what the values really mean, and how they can be applied and demonstrated in the day to day operational roles of each team member.
- Performance management – What measures can you put in place to benchmark and monitor your values? Employees are often measured in terms of performance and results, but it is just as important to measure “behaviours” against the company values. How does your team rate YOU against these values? How do you rate your team against these values?
- External review – Survey your customers to find out if they “experience” your company values in their dealings with the business.
Focusing on values can often give your business the direction it needs to build a strong team that makes good decisions and delivers consistent service to its stakeholders.