Read Time: 2 minutesExecutive Briefing #7 by Stephen Steckly
The words and actions of your employees can seriously damage your company.
What do you do when one employee is nasty to another, when a team member gossips about a co-worker or a customer, or when someone makes a negative statement about the company or its policies in an inappropriate setting?
You must quickly and effectively deal with these types of behaviour, or you risk an increase in their frequency and the resulting costly damage.
But how do you clearly communicate to your team which behaviours are OK and which are not, without creating thousands of rules? In the absence of clear rules, how do you make decisions involving behaviour? Without clear standards, how can you be fair when you speak to a team member about the fact that his or her conduct must change?
A powerful management tool is a clear ‘Values Statement’. Your corporate values determine which behaviours are absolutely required and which behaviours will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
Values are not ‘sometime’ things – if you and your team do not live them consistently, you don’t actually have them. In order for your team to live your corporate values, they must know beyond any doubt that you, their leader, are absolutely committed to the company values – no matter what.
Here are just a few ways a Values Statement can pay big dividends:
Your company values are like your compass or north-star. They help you with decisions that can be almost impossible to make otherwise.
Your company values will help you decide which candidates to hire and which candidates to avoid.
Your company values will help you create a well-defined corporate culture that will engage the hearts and minds of those who hold similar values.
But does it pay? Does a Values Statement actually add to the bottom line or is it just another ‘flavor-of-the-month’ thing? Let’s look at how Incredible Stuff Incorporated used their Values Statement. (Incredible Stuff Incorporated is not their real name but this story is based on real events.)
Their Values Statement declares:
At Incredible Stuff Incorporated we live the following values every day:
Respect for everyone - all the time
Excellence in everything we do
Exceptional Service for both our internal and external customers
Fun in our individual roles
Continual Innovation so we get better and stronger every day
Everyone at the company was encouraged to memorize the values. The boss was very clear that living the values was a requirement of employment. Meetings were held so everyone could learn how living the values would guide behaviour in real situations.
When their shop foreman retired, Incredible Stuff Incorporated hired a new one. The new foreman was brilliant technically. Because this guy had amazing problem solving abilities; initially the boss was very pleased.
Then a newer apprentice and a seasoned journeyman quit within days of each other and refused to provide anything but vague reasons for their departures.
More than once the boss overheard his new foreman sneering at a workers who asked for assistance with complex problems. People in other departments looked glum when they had to interact with the foreman. A pall of gloom hung over the shop. Productivity began to slip.
The problem? Clearly, the foreman’s behaviour was not congruent with the company values.
Either he had to change – instantly and permanently – or he had to leave, despite a tight labour market.
Here’s how this foreman’s behaviour affected profits at Incredible Stuff Incorporated:
Talented staff quit. (hugely expensive)
Technicians in the shop began to disengage, resulting in decreased productivity, increased tardiness and absenteeism, and more warranty come-backs. The technicians just didn’t seem to care anymore. (hugely expensive)
Incredible Stuff Incorporated started to develop a reputation as an undesirable place to work. (potentially very expensive)
People in all departments avoided communicating with the foreman. (potentially expensive)
The faltering culture and lack of engagement affected the other company values of Excellence, Service, and Innovation. (again…expensive)
Before long, the boss fired the foreman because he failed to live the corporate values. Incredible Stuff Incorporated found a replacement who did live the corporate values. Coming to work became fun again. As you might expect, engagement, morale, productivity, excellence, service, and innovation all improved. Absenteeism and tardiness almost disappeared. And yes, profitability increased.
Do you have a company Values Statement? If so, do you live by it? Do you talk it up? Is it a cornerstone of your corporate culture?
If you answered, “No” to any of these questions, there is an incredible opportunity to make your company more fun and more profitable by creating and consistently living your own strong Values Statement.
Written by Stephen Steckly
Founding Partner with BaseCamp4 Inc.
Download a printable PDF of this executive summary here.