As business leaders, we are taught to think logically and analytically. Best practices are our security blanket. We worship at the altar of the data-packed PowerPoint presentation. It’s comforting to know that we can justify our actions and decisions with hard facts. After all, there’s a lot riding on what we say and do.
But when it comes to core values, we need to take a different approach. We can’t impose a belief system – no matter how logical or well reasoned – on the diverse human beings who make up our workplace cultures. Because values are really about what’s in our heart – not what’s in our head.
Think about your organization. Do your people share a small set of deeply held, timeless beliefs that serve as their moral compass? Do these common beliefs empower their decisions? Can you quickly articulate them? Can your employees?
For many leaders, the answer to these questions is “no,” “maybe” or, more frequently, “I don’t know.” That’s ok. Because it’s never too late to discover the values that are true and authentic to your company and your employees.
Note that we say “discover” and not “create.” That’s an important distinction. Values cannot be dictated. They must be organic to your organization and authentic to its workforce.
Consider Disney. This iconic, customer-focused company has just five core values.
- No cynicism allowed
- Fanatical attention to consistency and detail
- Continuous progress via creativity, dreams, and imagination
- Fanatical control and preservation of Disney’s “magic” image
- “To bring happiness to millions” and to celebrate, nurture, and promulgate “wholesome American values”
If you were a Disney employee, would these values empower you to make decisions and take action in your role? Would they help create context for how you can contribute to the bigger picture? Would they make you feel part of the Disney family despite changes in management, economic downturns and competitive pressures?
Zappos is another example of a company with strong core values. In fact, this organization trusts its 1,500 employees to such a great extent that it recently announced it was abandoning job titles and management positions – completely. Instead, they’ll use a system known as “holocracy,” where employees are free to self-govern and self-organize around job functions.
Why can Zappos set its workforce free to such a great extent? It’s because they trust each and every employee to know and live their core values:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative and Open Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
Harmony Crew can help your organization discover its authentic core values – and bring them to life with aligned service standards/behaviors. When supported with effective communications and training, core values and service standards are powerful drivers of employee engagement. Why invest in such culture initiatives? Because, again and again, research shows high engagement results in significant improvements in customer delight, revenue, profit, operating margins, and employee retention. We invite you to give us a call if you’d like to learn more!