Our Operations Manager Andrew Burton on why Company Values are a cornerstone for a successful business
If you google ‘company values’ you’ll see the words: Your company values impact all the aspects of your business, from your sales and marketing strategies to your customer service and your employer brand. Company values help boost employee motivation, morale, employee advocacy and help give employees guidance for their work.
But do you need them, and if so why?
Why you have to have Company Values
Making a conscious choice to live your values is something that resounds across the business world. Everyone, rightly or wrongly, has a perception of people, business, governments, sports teams… the list goes on. But do you know how you and your business are perceived?
According to ModernSurvey, people who say that they fully understand their organisation’s values are 51 times more likely to describe themselves as being fully engaged with their work, compared to people who do not. Working in an organisation with people who share the same values and goals makes people feel that they are part of something larger than themselves and supports commitment, retention of staff and continuity of business development.
On the other side of the coin, people and suppliers who are not a good fit for your own values would probably be better off somewhere else. Don’t just look at a person’s or company’s qualifications on paper or product range; try to figure out their values and personality, identifying how well they would fit into your company culture and checking you can work with them and them with you.
Your values help define your brand
While not all companies share the same values; the important thing is that you have clearly defined your own businesses’ core values. These you truly need to believe in and champion. The real art to delivering your core values well is to present them in everything you do. Don’t hide them and keep them internal either, celebrate the fact you have them as an achievement; tell everyone; your employees, your business partners and especially your customers what they are.
At Malcolm Scott Consultants, we work with a wide range of garden centres and farm shops, and with such a varied spectrum of businesses, we see a lot of different cultures and objectives. The values and goals of each business are what make everyone so different. One thing stands out for every business we work with though, and that is the fact that we need to understand each other and work together. Our values not only help us do that, but they also give our clients confidence that we are working as one team, with care, creating belief, trust and commitment.
Your company values affect how customers perceive you
Everyone wants happy, loyal customers who will recommend their product or service, especially with the strength of influence the internet provides through the likes of Tripadvisor and Facebook. So it’s no surprise that one of the best ways to achieve this aim is to build your business around customer satisfaction. It is often seen that companies with a customer service vision in line with their business are more likely to retain customers and show improved financial results over time, so the question to focus on is ‘how do you create and develop that focus in your business’?
Your business’ vision and proposition determines your values, so you need ask yourself – What is most important to your business? Be honest now ? Is it profit? Or is it people? Or Innovation?
Whatever your answer, it is going to form the basis for your business culture, its brand and the customers perception. Your intentions will be interpreted, even without a conscious decision to put them into practice. A profit-driven culture that pays lip service to customer needs is likely to perceived as such and let’s face facts, your employees know what’s really going on, and your customers can instantly understand your real priorities based on the behaviour and conversation of your employees.
Your business culture is led by your leadership team’s values, business expectations, own beliefs, and objectives. When it comes to customer satisfaction and their understanding of your values, it is vitally important that they see the way that you work with them in the community and how you treat your staff. Happy employees typically make for happy customers!
People who find genuine passion and satisfaction in their jobs will go the extra mile to make a customer happy. Studies show that customer retention rates are approximately 18 per cent higher when employees are highly engaged with their work. Give your employees the training and tools they need to succeed, trust and empower them and show them that they are valued, and you will go a long way towards creating satisfied customers as well.
A strong, positive business culture is great for everyone
A strong and positive business culture reduces the chance that you won’t reach your objectives. Instead of being unsure what your aims are, make sure your employees know what is expected of them. Giving them the training, tools and support to deliver your objectives allows customers to understand your integrity and they will no doubt receive the benefits of your engaged and empowered workforce.
When you invest in your communication, training and culture, you will often see the results in your bottom line.
The atmosphere at work is essential
Having a culture which has trust and strong, open communication between everyone is essential in supporting a positive environment. This is vital at every level throughout a business, between all employees, and between different departments throughout the business. If your employees spend all their energy fighting amongst themselves and in the rat-race for recognition and position they won’t have much energy left to be positive and productive. And you can be sure that your customers will pick up on it right away.
Whereas when people feel that the entire team is a team working together for the same goals, they’ll feel happier at work. You can be assured that your customers will see the benefits.
Six steps to take to ensure your business has core values that are real and will stick:
1. Keep the core value list achievable
It’s important to understand your core values succinctly. Employees should be able to remember company values with ease and rather than them see these as a chore, they should roll off the tongue. Aim for three to four and
2. Encourage Team Ownership.
Values are far more effective than something on a piece of paper and they can help achieve behaviours and results. Ownership of values comes from all the employees, who should be also be encouraged to openly question decisions or actions that are contradictory to the values. This is what makes your values your culture.
3. Support the values you set.
It’s not enough to simply have core values written down as an owner or manager – you have to live and breathe them. Leaders need to talk about core values ongoing and be able to refer to them naturally in conversation. Employees understand that values drive behaviour and expect to see this too.
4. Choose values that make your business different
Words like “professional” and “communicative” are not always viewed as core values as they should be basic expectations in any workplace. A company’s core values should be at the forefront of what makes it unique and special to work at your company. Some examples could include “act like an owner,” or “serve customers as if they are your mum”.
5. Have the right people to support values.
Allowing someone to undermine your values sends a message to the rest of the company. Even if the employee is a top performer, if they can’t buy in to your values then even the best companies make the decision to let them go when they realise there is a mismatch in the culture or values.
All businesses want to ensure they don’t get into this position and to help avoid getting to this point, they need to be sure to include behaviour-based core value questions in the interview process and use them in performance reviews. We’ve worked with businesses to help devise job descriptions and streamline recruitment processes, and often, attitude and personality wins the day once the candidates have been shortlisted.
6. Review them.
Keeping values in mind at all times is essential and as your business develops your values may do so with you. Don’t change them every month, but do review them annually or bi-annually firstly to check you are living them and secondly to see that they are relevant and beneficial.
The question now is: Do you believe core values work and if you do, what are you going to do about implementing or reviewing them?