As a manager, leader of people or individual the ability to get the right people doing the right actions at the right time in the right way is the real job description. The challenge is, getting this done consistently and in an effective way.
As I consult with companies one of the first things I look for are several cornerstones that affect every aspect of the business. The challenge is, many leaders either feel they have these in place and do not, or have no idea of what these cornerstones are or the impact they can have.
So my starting place is with one of the cornerstones that helps to build the other cornerstones and can potentially cure a great many ills!
The first cornerstone is “Company Values”. The guiding lights for any organization.
When we first begin to discuss company values the discussion is about customers, employees or growth. But that is not necessarily the values we are looking for.
To get to the “Core Values” one needs to dig further into the “why”, “what”, “how” of things.
The “why” is why do we exist? Why do we do what we do? Why do we want others to do business with us? Why should others do business or work with us? Why should others trust us?
Once you have a list of possible answers to these questions you will have many possible values listed!
To assist our customers
To make a profit
To better the world
To provide for others
To improve ourselves and our life styles
Are examples of some answers, but do not just stop at these, go for a couple dozen.
The what is similar: What is our purpose? What do we do? What are we good at? What are our strengths? What causes us to do this? What causes customers to use us? What causes people to work here? What drives our market?
Some answers may be:
We server others
We make great products
We are innovative
We are secure
We are growth oriented
Again, do not stop here, go for a couple dozen or more.
The how puts a different spin on the list: How do we do things? How are we perceived? How do we want to be known? How do we grow? How do we serve others? How do we get great people? How do we solve problems?
Here are some possible answers:
Quickly and accurately
As the best
As a market leader
Cautiously and purposefully
Through caring actions
By being the best
As before, do not stop at a few, go for a couple of dozen or more.
Another way to also add to the list is thinking of key leaders and what they bring to the table; What skills, thinking, actions and attributes do they exhibit.
Now refine, redefine, eliminate, move around, rename etc until you have only 20% of the list left. Is this list beginning to take on a life and generate some excitement in you and your team?
The objective is to have a maximum of 7 and preferably only 3 Core Values for the organization. Less is more powerful in this case.
OK HG you’re making us work and pulling our hearts and minds out so they on the table for all to see. How is this going to make the organization any better?
One of the key problems in organizations is communication and having the team all on board. Here are some examples of how powerful this can be:
Decisions and choices: Continuous Innovation is a core value. The employees face a problem and need it solved. Do they stand around until management fixes it? Point the fingers at each other or departments? Stand back in fear of an error and repercussions because of the problem? Put their heads together and develop an innovative solution, implement it and have the place running better than before and management has just shown up after the fact. Yes, this does happen with strong, clear core values.
Let’s assume there are no Core Values, how would these same employees act? Most likely not the same way, because they have no direction or decision tool to act on.
Hiring and firing: You are hiring a new manager or salesperson. In the interview process the Core Values are brought out and indicated this is how the company functions and everyone here runs on these values. One candidate gets wide eyed and says “Wow, that is the type of business I want to be with!” The second one looks and is somewhat unsure of what to say. They even pull back a bit as if intimidated by the core values. Chances are the second one is not a fit. The Core values act as a filter and help to get the right people on the team.
Assuming there are not core values, how do you filter new hires to see if they fit, will they function here or only be a brief candle in the wind? Candles cost money and time.
Team building: With clearly stated and understood core values, people either grab on or drop off. Teams built around core values have
focus and gain traction towards their outcomes. People need a mutually accepted idea that is bigger than they to rally around and drive ahead.
Now take a team that has no core values to focus on, use as a guide or rally around. How effective are they and what type of problems do they have? Yep you have been there.
Marketing and Sales: Core values create a go/no go type of gauge. When issues come up, does the solution go with or against the core values? If against the choice is made, no go in a very black and white way.
Without the core values there is not a line of demarcation and solutions and actions are taken that create more issues and distrust. If you have experienced this, you know this needs to be avoided. Enron ring a bell.
There are four of the many areas that Core Values will have a dramatic effect in driving your business. If you as the leader cannot define your core values, then how can your people. Start with the ideas above to determine your organizations core values and then communicate them through word and action, results will come fast…
About the Author:
Consulting and training business organizations for 30 years and a 3 time author, Harlan Goerger brings value to those he serves. You can find his books, services and more articles at www.AskHG.com