Envision a rowing team with one or two members out of sync. Right from the beginning, they start lagging behind the competition. If the team doesn’t quickly address errors, then winning becomes elusive as the boat falls behind.
The same is true in business. If there are team members who don’t believe in the company’s vision and core values, then the company falls behind – losing its competitive edge.
Values (ethics) deliver Value (profits)
Today, many of our top places to work have employees who are aligned and passionate about their company’s core values. And, the byproduct of building their values capacity is increased business capacity!
Core values are a set of timeless, guiding principles that direct behavior and define your culture. They are part of the company’s DNA. As an EOS implementer, we teach the Built to Last discovery that all great companies must have a clear set of core values that are shared by all and integrated through its operations.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 80% of Fortune 100 companies promote their values, and when done effectively can serve as a strong competitive advantage and means to rally employees. Examples include Google, Amazon, Whole Foods, The Container Store, Ritz-Carlton and Southwest Airlines.
Jim Stengel, author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, found that companies driven to improve people’s lives outperform the competition that lack this higher sense of purpose by 400%!
Core Values Must Drive Action
According to Jim Collins, leaders shouldn’t “set” core values, they need to be “discovered” through identifying people who are already predisposed to sharing the core values and then defining them based on the actions and behaviors that already exist.
To strengthen the link between values and operations, you must be intentional about how to embed core values into your culture on a day-to-day basis through constant reinforcement. At EOS, we say you should hire, fire, review, reward and recognize on core values.
There are numerous daily opportunities for leaders to link core values to business operations, keeping them at the heart of everything you do:
· Guide decision-making. Our words and actions should be aligned. We must deliver on our promises. For example, if “quality” is a core value, then any products not meeting our standards should be eliminated.
· Serve as a competitive advantage. Many high-performing companies like Zappos, the online shoe retailer, have used their core values and culture as a competitive advantage. Having a set of specific core values tells customers and prospects what the company is about and clarifies its identity. Core values should act like a homing beacon for like-minded customers.
· Improve recruiting. People are the lifeblood of today’s enterprises, and top performers seek out companies with values that match their own. When hiring, go beyond skills, experience and abilities to include core values alignment. Design your interview questions and assessments around testing a candidate’s alignment with your core values to determine the best fit.
· Boost employee retention and productivity. One of the top reasons employees love where they work is because they feel aligned a company’s values and mission. There are numerous ways to link core values to employee reviews, rewards and recognition.
· Improve customer retention. Core values help customers feel they have a relationship with your brand, improving retention. For example, customers might pay a premium price for our services, not based on the cheapest option, but on the most valuable one.
· Improve vendor relationships. We welcome partners who point to our values as a reason to join our network. They are easier to work with and offer more profitable opportunities. In fact, it’s been said that profit is the applause you get for doing right by taking care of people
· Boost acquisition success. Because they operate in a similar space and with a value-driven purpose, core values alignment can improve your acquisition experience and the overall success of the endeavor.
Core values drive employee satisfaction, employee retention, customer and vendor loyalty as well as organizational performance and business growth.
As a leader, this process starts with you. By living and leading with values you’ll create a strong unified and unique company culture, positioning your company at the forefront of business!