Many of us can name the values that are most important to us personally, but have you ever taken the time to identify the core values for your business? Your core values will define your company’s culture and impact your bottom line. Additionally, you will always have a tool to measure your success and a set of guiding principles to use to manage your decision making. This ensures decisions are reflective of the core values instead of based on whims.
So, what are core values? These are words or statements that reflect the existing personality of your company and also attributes you strive to attain as an organization. The size of your business doesn’t matter. Defining and communicating your core values will help drive your success.
Where to Start. This is the perfect time of year, before the craziness that spring brings, to spend time reflecting on what your company stands for and what separates you from your competition. If you have clear mission and vision statements, they can help you identify those characteristics and your core values should be in line with your company’s vision and mission.
They shouldn’t be vague statements like “treat your customers with respect,” but rather they should be specific attributes that you and your leadership team decide are important to the success of your company, and that you want to actively support.
At Arrow Exterminators, we have identified eight core values that are tied to our vision and mission statements. We must, as a company and as individuals, live these values every day to ensure we realize our vision and achieve our mission together. Each value is defined by a single descriptive word, highlighted in boldface type below, followed by an action statement. A few of ours include:
- Passion: We are fanatical about our people and our customers, delivering uncompromised service and value.
- Initiative: We take the initiative to do what’s right and with a clear conscience.
- Safety: Personal safety and employee well-being is our greatest responsibility, followed by the protection of our environment and company property.
We have also identified excellence, growth, motivation, innovation and community as core values for our organization.
Now What? Once you’ve taken the time to define your core values, it is critical that you communicate them to your entire company. If your team is not aware of the characteristics you consider important to your success, then they can’t strive to embody those characteristics. Ensure they understand the values, how they relate to your business and why they are important to the organization.
Provide reminders around the office so they are always top of mind. Some ideas include: creating a poster that lists your values and hanging it in very visible locations in your offices and holding a weekly contest where an employee has an opportunity to win a small prize if they can recite a core value and provide an example of how they put it into action.
How Values Come to Life. You should also find a way for your employees to engage emotionally and identify personally with your core values. Safety is a great example. It is one thing to talk about driver safety and another to really make it personal. Driving is one of the most dangerous things we all do every day and we want our employees to go home to their families every night. We are living this value through concrete action and have just finalized a comprehensive safe driving program which every single employee, whether they drive a company vehicle or not, was required to pass. Not only will our “family” get home to their families more safely every night, there is no denying the positive impact to our bottom line.
Constant and consistent communication is the key and as the owner or manager of the business the buck stops with you. It is your responsibility to really drive them home and create a culture that truly “lives” the values. Believe in them and your team will too. Just as in fitness where you must get your core right for the body to follow, the same is true for your company. Get your core values right and your business will follow and prosper.
The author is chief marketing and strategy officer for Arrow Exterminators, Atlanta, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.