Ben Bunting, Manager of ConnectWise Control Sales, talks about three ways organizations can ensure their core values are active within their company culture.
Ever since the mid-90s, thanks to Jim Collin’s book “Built to Last,” executives have been locking themselves in conference rooms for hours to try and find the trendiest words that describe their company’s culture and values.
Today if you do some quick research on core values you’ll be lost in a sea of “Integrity, Transparency, Togetherness, and Innovation…” With statistics like “51% of the workforce is not engaged” it's easy to assume most people are becoming apathetic to the concept of core values. They were once designed to set a new standard, drive vision and separate companies from the competition, but today they are best known for living on our “About Us” page. To breathe new life into your core values you need to take time to ensure your company is delivering on them!
It is the responsibility of the entire org-chart to deliver on core values, but it certainly starts with your leadership team. Learning whether you are living up to your core values will require open and honest soul-searching (Ironically Open and Honest is probably one of your core values).
For a quick gut-check of how well your company is delivering on the core values, ask these 3 simple questions to yourself, your leadership team and hiring managers.
1. “Is there anyone on your team you strife with and/or is not meeting expectation, and you have not told them?”
If that is the case you are not holding this team member or yourself accountable. This was the question Marcus Lemonis (CNBC the Profit, and CEO of Camping World) asked a crowd of leaders and entrepreneurs. He immediately scolded all of us who raised our hands and made us promise to have the tough conversation the first day back to the office.
You can’t promise Accountability and Transparency on your corporate website if you’re not even willing to have an uncomfortable conversation with one of your team members. Colleagues need to know how you feel about their work and their future at the company. The rest of your teams need to see that you won’t ignore employee issues. The fastest way to ruin company culture is to let great team members carry the burden of the underperforming --while they watch you do nothing.
2. “What hiring practices do you have in place today to ensure you only hire candidates who match the core values?”
Last year I was invited to help a company evaluate their existing Customer Service team. While waiting for the CEO, I made small talk with the receptionist and asked her if she was looking forward to the long weekend. She replied, “oooh yea, we work extremely hard here, and I could use the break.” I was surprised by her openness, however, while talking with the CEO he also made it clear “we work extremely hard here! Anyone looking for a job that starts and ends on time doesn’t need to apply.” You can certainly question his leadership methods; however, he made no apology for the core value “Work Hard” and ensured it was glaringly obvious to all candidates. He paid well, which was enticing to most, but he quickly scared away anyone that applied who was not ready to work at the pace his company demanded.
Anyone in a hiring position should be prepared with questions and interview practices that help narrow the candidate pool down to those who will naturally fit the company’s core values. If your hiring managers aren’t trained, or capable of filling your company with the right people you’ll continue struggling to deliver on the core values.
3. “When was the last time you verbalized a core value to one of your team members?”
Colleagues will be cynical about your core values if they’re only represented on your website, handbook and headquarter walls. They may, however, actually believe them after they’ve heard them from an executive more than seven times. If you’re not comfortable evangelizing the company's core values, you’ll certainly have trouble living by them. A similar exercise is to ask your leadership team to write down all the core values in under 30 seconds. If our core values are truly an important part of our culture and success, we should know them word for word and enjoy sharing stories about times they were an important part of our company.
We are more than halfway through 2019, and it is tempting to start diving into 2020 planning meetings, but we need to make sure we are spending significant time aligning our organization to the values we already have in place. Don’t let your core values become nothing more than cursive-lettering collecting dust on a wall, let them drive the future of your company and culture you’ve always wanted.
Shoutout to Ben Bunting, Manager of ConnectWise Control Sales, for contributing this piece to the Customer Imperative Journal.