Today’s Guest Post is written by Melissa K. Jones. She is owner of theCEOffice and founder of Creative Chics. Melissa is a results oriented, ambitious leader with over 15 years of experience in building teams and customer relations for Fortune 500 companies. She has high expectations for her teams and believes each person is capable of great things.
Do you have company values? One of the most important steps that any business should take when building a strong foundation is determining their company values. Company values are guideposts that direct a company forward. They guide your decision making when buying, collaborating, hiring, marketing, and choosing where to spend your time and money. They keep you focused in the midst of shiny objects and the appearance of easy money.
The set of values are unique to your company’s personality, the culture you want to cultivate, and how you want others to perceive your brand.
- As a consumer and/or employee what have you experienced that was memorable?
- How did it make you feel?
- How do you want your team to feel when they work with you?
- How do you want your vendors/partners to feel when they work with you?
- How do you want your clients to remember their experience?
Using your unique experiences and perspective create a list of values that are important to you. This list of values can be between 3-10 descriptive words.
EXAMPLE: In my business, Character, is one of our values. It is important to me that we were striving to do our best work at all times regardless of who is paying attention. I have a desk card at eye height at my desk that I glance at daily. It helps me when I’m writing copy, creating marketing collateral, choosing who to collaborate with, or finding the right team member.
When building a team, use your values to create the job description. The values help tell the story of your company and attract better candidates. I’m a strong believer that you attract what you put out into the universe. As your potential candidate pool grows create your interview questions. The interview questions should be situational based and relate to your company values. It is important to be consistent in your interviews and ask the exact same questions to each candidate.
EXAMPLE: For Character, I could ask a question in regards to an unsupervised project that they were responsible for and what was the outcome of the project.
Finding the right team member is crucial because they can make or break your business. Your team members are the front line between you and your customers so how they work and represent your company is important. When building a team, a member’s work ethic and values outweigh their experience and knowledge. You can always teach someone how to do something, but it is very hard to change their behavior and personality.
Once you have brought on your new team member not only are you teaching them the responsibilities of the role, but also the experience and standard of service you are providing to your clients. Share your company values, why they have been chosen, and how they play a part in the operations and decision making process. When they understand the values and how to incorporate them in daily activities it makes it easier to live them. How you treat your team member and the time you spend teaching them will be reflected in their approach to their work and your clients. Use the questions below when integrating the values into your teaching material.
- How do you want your values to be reflected in the business?
- How do you want your team to approach their work?
- How do you want your team to treat your clients?
- How do you want your clients to feel?
The training process or rookie stage can vary for each team member (90 days – 6 months). Make sure you have a system in place and be flexible knowing that people learn differently and at different paces.
EXAMPLE: For Character, I put systems in place to ensure that team members are able to put forth their best effort. I provide them the tools they need to be successful and operate independently. I create processes that clarify our service standards and provide examples so they can do their best work.
As your team member transitions from training, how are you incorporating your company values on a day to day basis? The values should be posted at each of your team member’s desks and hanging visibly in your office as a reminder. Make time on a consistent basis (minimum of monthly) to ask for their feedback. It encourages participation and shows that you appreciate their contributions. Questions to ask may include: How do they see your company incorporating those values behind the scenes in day to day work? How do they want to exemplify those values when engaging with clients or business partners?
Some ideas to get you started on how to incorporate company values are below:
- Unique – Create sessions monthly where your team can brainstorm ideas how to be unique in your customer service, marketing, sales approach, or execution of a project. Don’t shoot down any ideas, just take notes, ask questions for clarification, and absorb. When you are brainstorming the more ideas the better. One idea will lead to another so let the conversation evolve organically.
- Love – Show appreciation to your team, business partners, vendors, and clients through acts of service, words of affirmation, time, or small gifts. It can vary with each person and situation.
- Celebration – Recognize individual and team achievements. Celebrate the special moments in life (birthdays, new homes, anniversaries) of your team, clients, vendors. It shows you care beyond the business transaction.
Finally, use your company values as part of your individual feedback, team conversations, and goal setting. It reinforces the importance of them and keeps your team focused. I found one of the biggest drivers of team success is to recognize daily the small achievements. Yes, it takes time out of my day, but it is a long term investment in my team. I believe people live up to your expectations of them and you can speak life/success into them through your choice of words and actions. How can you recognize or reward your team for their value based accomplishments?
EXAMPLE: For Character, striving for excellence and achieving certain performance goals is important for me. So I may set goals based arounds sales and customer service objectives. Recognition may include: peer nominated recognition, sharing positive customer feedback with the team, making time to recognize a team member publicly for their contribution to a successful project.
Leave a comment below and share an example of how you live your company values. I look forward to your responses!