THURSDAY, AUGUST 7TH, 2008
“I don’t need core values, I’m just a small business, why do I need to spend time working on core values?”
Yesterday working with one of my clients who has less then five employees he said to me, “preaching my core values has made all the difference in the world!”
For some time we had been having discussions regarding the crew he had working for him. He was reluctant to change the subcontractors, a father and son team, who did good work yet were reluctant to follow the rules he had established. He owns a home remodeling company and his value proposition is, “We Respect You and Your Home.” He’s determined to have a few set of rules and to make sure they’re enforced. His number one rule is, “Don’t start another mess before you’ve cleaned up the last one.” Needless to say this father son crew was more than a little lax in following this.
To my surprise he decided to discontinue working with his old father and son crew and start with a new crew. His working with them sparked his comment. In fact it’s probably no surprise that on a recent kitchen project the homeowner offered to become a referral even before the job was finished. They practically begged to be a reference. One of their comments included, “we don’t even know when they are here, or when they’ve been here they clean up so well.” My client has an enforcement policy to make sure his team cleans up by penalizing them with a $200 clean up cost if the job isn’t spotless. Some people respond to rewards better than punishment, however it’s difficult to argue with the outcome.
Mike [my client] indicates he’s been continually repeating his core values to his new crew and obviously the repetition is working. It’s surprising to me how many times I hear prospects and clients say you can’t find good help. In many cases the problem is that we haven’t set the bar high enough, to find the kind of people we want to work for us.
Robert Stayer is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Johnsonville Sausage who co authored the book The Flight of the Buffalo several years ago. His quote from that book has an air of authenticity as the backdrop for this performance boost my client is experiencing. He offered, “There’s a lot of words written in the past years about making work more fun and rewarding. Many pundits believe that if we can make people happy they will perform better. I started down that path years ago and concluded that just the reverse was true. I discovered that when people perform better, they are happier. My experience is that everyone wants to excel. Everyone enjoys winning. Everyone loves being part of a winning team. Winning reinforces itself. Every one takes pride in his/her accomplishments. That is why most everyone loves sports. Sports give instant feedback on performance. We all share a deep desire for feedback on our performance. Harness this deep well of energy and commitment in your organization by helping people build systems that measure their performance against those things critical to success.“
When people take pride in their work they feel better about themselves. When they know what the expectations are, reach or exceed them, they can go home each day with a sense of pride and satisfaction. Clarity of your values brings with it people who value and appreciate these as well. They are attracted by this and it promises them the satisfaction in enjoying their work more since they feel they are working for someone that feels the same as they do.
Identifying your core values will only be a purposeful exercise if you decide to do something with them. If you practice your core values and make them a part of your everyday work experience for your staff suddenly they take on added meaning.
Mike’s business has just 5 core values:
- Harmony – working unselfishly and in sync with “the team” helping to provide a better life for everyone.
- Honest, Integrity.. Good Ethics – “Good Profits” - Doing what’s right (we’ll use Jesus as the example)
- Setting & Exceeding Customer Expectation - Making the Promise, then delivering.
- Respect – for everyone above and below on “the food chain”, including their property & belongings.
- Loyalty – Developing relationships with good people, and working unselfishly to maintain it. (An attitude that’s never money driven)
Mike’s value proposition or brand promise reinforces these and he repeats himself a lot. My bet is that in the coming months and years he is going to achieve a great deal of success. Would you bet against that?
I plan to be off for another week of vacation next week and will be back around the 18th of August. When I come back I’d like to offer you insight on a checklist that when followed will provide you with a sense of personal and financial freedom that you’ve been looking for from your business.
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