What are your organization’s values, and how do you make them real to your people?
After 20+ years in the corporate world, I tend to roll my eyes when people start talking about mission statements, vision, and values. Maybe that’s because I’ve seen and heard many of these generic-sounding corporate statements before, or because I know how time-consuming and frustrating it can be for a team to try to come up with a mission statement or a set of values whose wording everyone agrees upon. Maybe it’s because many people I observed in leadership roles seemed to thrive in their careers while acting contrary to the company’s stated values.
As a business owner, I still see examples in myself, our employees, and our processes that are counter to what we value as a company. Examples include making snarky remarks about others, acting lazy or taking shortcuts, not tackling the difficult tasks, avoiding awkward but necessary conversations, not adapting more efficient technologies, or not having the right mix of inventory to satisfactorily deliver to our customers. Now, I can’t just communicate our values by presenting a list. The leaders on my team and I have to find ways to explain, demonstrate and give real examples of the values in a way that is authentic, meaningful, and actionable, so everyone understands WHY and HOW the values help us succeed, and so that we may convert eye-rollers to motivated advocates of our values.
Below is a summary of foundational values we emphasize and try to uphold at The Electrode Store:
- Integrity & Honesty in all that we do
- Quality: The best quality products AND processes
- Communication: Frequent, clear, open communications; we must listen, inform, and add value
- Respect & Dignity: We seek to treat employees, customers, suppliers, and others we encounter with respect – including and considering the viewpoints of others
- Technology: Seek and implement the best technologies in our products, processes, and systems
- Good Customer Service: We want to delight our customers and not give them a reason to buy elsewhere
- Long Term Relationships with customers, suppliers, employees and others
To our customers, suppliers, employees, friends, and others: We know we are not there yet. If you have examples of The Electrode Store NOT living up to our stated values, please let me know. It may be painful to hear, but I’d appreciate the chance to understand where we have issues or where we need to improve.