When you start a business, you come into it with your own vision and values of what the company stands for.
When you hire your first employee, if you are smart, you share this vision and now there are two people working towards it. If you are too busy, or don't think that it's important to share this vision, instead you are left with two people working on their own individual visions. The first company will grow faster and stronger.
The challenge becomes to maintain this vision and set of business values as the company grows and hires more people. By documenting the vision and values and actively living them, the company stands a much better chance of maintaining them and growing strongly. Documentation is in two parts: the business vision and values, and the operating philosophy which is simply applied values.
However, documentation alone is not enough. Values must be constantly lived and reinforced.
• Celebrate -
Specifically, leadership needs to celebrate and share ‘right actions’ – where an individual or group of individuals does exactly the right thing in uncertain circumstances.
• Forgive -
Leadership must also be quick to forgive those who attempt to apply the philosophy but have unfortunate results. These must very quickly be turned into learning opportunities rather than moments of shame.
• Reinforce -
And most importantly, leadership must not actively or passively excuse the actions of those who succeed, but do so by violating the business values. For example, rewarding or ignoring the practices of a top sales person simply because they are bringing so much revenue.
Business values and the operating philosophy provide guidance. But actions always speak louder than words. It’s essential that business values be applied to everyone in the company equally and democratically. If someone behaves in a manner that is contrary to stated business values, the results should be the same whether that person is the Executive VP of Operations or a Mail Clerk. This is truly living business values!
Have a great day!