As published in the November edition of the Western Sydney Business Access magazine
Every business has a set of core values underpinning most, if not all of the actions and decisions that its owners and staff make on a daily basis (even if they don’t know what they are).
Successful businesses know what these core values are and have spent time developing them, modifying them and operating within them to maximize their chance of success.
Businesses that don’t know what their core values are, generally speaking are those businesses that have underperformed because their values are not aligned with the goals and objectives that they may or may not have set.
The ‘values’ and ‘practices’ in a business are what are defined as the culture of the business. Those businesses which have an adaptive culture which is shared and communicated between owners, staff and the public create an opportunity to give themselves a point of difference over their competitors.
So how do you turn a business’ values, practices and overriding culture into business success and more importantly for business owners, long lasting success and profits?
The key is to turn theory into practice. You can have the best set of corporate values written down on paper, but if these values aren’t followed they won’t transpire into a high performing culture.
It all starts with the owners. The owners of any business are the natural leaders of a business. Not all owners are the best ‘leaders’ however they still have to go about their day to day affairs using the values of the business as the framework for their decision making.
The owners will be responsible for defining the values of their business with or without input from their staff. The owners then need to communicate these values to the staff and make it very clear that these are the values of the business that have to be adhered to.
It is here however that many businesses fall down when non-conformity with these values is left unaddressed. Owners have to quickly deal with staff that don’t follow the values because it only takes one or two bad staff to bring the entire culture of the business down.
In comparison to non-conformity, adherence to the values can help to create a culture that encourages and inspires employees to take responsibility for the business and focus their efforts on achieving the shared goals of the organisation.
This is the beginning of the creation of a high performing culture, in part determined by the businesses values and can assist with reducing employee turnover which helps to improve a business’ profitability.
Taking a step back in the process the defining of the businesses values is an integral part of the planning process and is also a valuable marketing and reputation building tool.
I have talked in previous articles about risk management and the importance of business planning to give your business every chance of success. Well, defining the values by which you want to operate is really the first step in the planning process.
These values find their way into a SWOT Analysis….i.e. Strengths and Opportunities and how a strong set of business values can be a competitive advantage.
These values are part of risk management……i.e. What is the risk to the business if we don’t undertake our business dealings in line with our publicly communicated values? Client losses, revenue reductions, employee legal action? Lack of value conformity can result in all of these things occurring thanks to a dysfunctional corporate culture.
As a marketing tool, the communication of a business’ values to its clientele and stakeholders can be invaluable. Some clients or customers will chose to deal with a business which has similar values to them or values which they simply feel are honest and ethical.
The making of a business’ values public also makes a business, its owners and its employees accountable to stakeholders outside of the business for the following of these values. Thus ensuring these are not just mythical values created to follow a trend.
A businesses values and resultant culture will evolve over time. It is not an overnight sensation and in some cases for businesses which are using the creation of values as a change process will take a lot of effort and requires changes in the mindset of the organization to begin to work within these values
But as studies have shown that businesses which operate within a set of clearly defined, adaptive and positive values can outperform their competitors by sometimes 200% the short term and long term benefits both financial and non-financial are there to be had.