Now you have read our Part One ‘Why your Company Values Really Matter’ it’s time to look at the many important facets of defining your Company Values.
Just to recap, in regards to having a positive culture, there are some key points that we go by:
- Get clear about your purpose and make sure your employees are plugged into this
- Define your mission and vision values—these should set the boundaries of behaviour
- Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
- Have fun!
Get clear about your company’s purpose
We all know that companies that have a higher purpose (other than just to make money) seem to be more successful. There is a simple reason for this.
Think about it—your company purpose or mission is what your employees get excited about. If your mission is not exciting, and you don’t have a higher purpose then you could be in trouble! Sound corny? Well, it’s not.
People want to feel that they work within an organisation that is making a difference – that they are working for the forces of good not evil. They want to feel that their work has meaning and is actually having an impact in the world. Once you define your mission this should guide everything you do.
Often your mission is also your unique competitive advantage.
So many businesses miss out on this key point. They have boring uninspiring mission statements that put employees (and customers) to sleep.
Once you define your mission or purpose you then need to make sure your employees connect with it. And, more importantly, that this aligns with their own personal values and beliefs.
This is where your values or boundaries of behaviour come in. This process of defining your purpose is vital to you unlocking your business values. Normally once you define your purpose your mission, then your vision and values will flow easily.
Define your mission and vision values
Now you know the importance of defining your mission, vision and values, it’s time to take action and go through this process for your organisation.
Hopefully, you developed these when you started your business (before you even had employees), because this is how you create your strategy. All of these set the tone for what kind of business you are, where you are going, and how you and your people operate—and relate to customers and each other.
Setting the boundaries first and foremost will, in the long run, help you attract the business you want, and be the business that you want to be.
We challenge you to check in with your company mission, vision and values and ask yourself:
- Are they inspiring?
- Am I personally excited when I read them?
- Do they really define the essence of who we are?
Because if they don’t, it might be time for a re-jig.
What is (and isn’t) acceptable in your workplace are grounded in your business goals, mission statement and values, and your policies.
You may think this is overkill, but believe us when we say this is vital to your success. Your people and the way they behave define how your customers perceive you. If they don’t like it, customers will simply go elsewhere.
This isn’t fluff! Your customers’ money is serious stuff—especially if they take it to your competitor! Having the right culture for your business will make a difference.
The good things about good policies
Core values alone are a great way to create a direction, but policies define specific boundaries. If you don’t have boundaries, people can become out of control.
Before you start saying ‘I don’t want policies – I don’t want to be tied to them! They make life too strict!’ But, without policies, how would people know what is acceptable and what isn’t?
If you think ‘policies’ means too many restrictions on your business, you have had the wrong people writing them. We believe in flexible policies that provide guidelines to what is acceptable. But we don’t believe in the ‘policy police’ carrying big sticks.
There are ways and means of being flexible, and as a successful business owner you would know about that within your industry. Success comes from being able to roll with the punches—and being fast and flexible.
The final thing we would say to you is remember the legal stuff. There are some things that you just can’t ignore: sexual harassment, discrimination, victimisation, bullying, health and safety—you simply must have policies around these, or you are creating a huge risk for your business.
You could be breaking the law if you don’t tell your people some of the things they can and can’t do, when it comes to these legal matters.
Lead by example
Once you have established clear, flexible, appropriate policies for your business, get out there and show them how it’s done. Leading by example is the best way to show your people that you mean business (pun intended).
You should be making sure that your managers and informal leaders are doing the same thing. If they are true leaders, they will want to be a part of creating the right culture, but it’s up to YOU to set it.
The other vital thing about leading by example is… respect. You can’t demand respect—it can only be earned. Having a firm vision for your organisation and leading a positive culture is a darn fine way to earn it. (Of course, the last element in the respect equation is that you need to be great at your job, or be big enough to find and rely on others who are.)
So, by now you have put two of the three foundation steps in place for creating boundaries and expectations for your culture, and there is one more important item:
How to make sure people align?
Often managers think ‘punish people who don’t align’, and that may be appropriate in certain circumstances. But have you ever heard the phrase, ‘you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’? Well, apply that here. We think that you need to reward people who DO align to the culture and behaviour that you want to set.
Rewards can come in many different forms, and we don’t mean just give them a pay rise.
What we mean is:
- Recognise their efforts
- Give praise when someone does well
- Agree with them when they make a decision that is in line with your culture
- Put them in positions of leadership—maybe working on a new project, or seconding them to a new role.
If you praise people, they will repeat the positive behaviour.
It sounds simple, we know. And it can be—as long as you are committed. But changing the culture of your business is not an overnight fix. You need to set the boundaries, get the leaders in your business on board, and stick to the goal—even when it gets tough.
Those that remain and those that leave
People don’t like change, but that’s OK. Those who want to be part of your culture will stay and align. And those who don’t want to be part of your culture will more than likely leave.
Although we preach the virtues of retaining your people, sometimes it is not a bad thing if people leave when they are not on the same path as you. The plus side is that you will then be able to get the right people on board who align with your culture.
We have another great series on recruitment to help you find people who will fit your culture.