It is often said that the two greatest challenges in running a successful business are handling customers and handling staff. Neil Pattemore discusses how both of these challenges be addressed.
Shared values are about the simple decisions based on what you see as right or wrong, and how you then react to given situations based on these values. Within a business, this means how you interact with employees and with customers.
As a business leader, it’s vital that the values you hold are shared by your staff. If your staff are not aware of your values or do not share them, conflict, frustration and poor performance will soon follow, which undermine an organisation’s effectiveness.
A shared value can be created and supported by all employees, but it’s the business leader who must ensure that the values of the business are implemented and maintained. So, what are the key elements to consider?
- Consider the core values that your business adheres to, and define these in a way that gains the respect and support of employees.
- The business leader needs to demonstrate and support these values in their own behaviour and workplace actions, both to employees and to customers; they need to lead by example.
- The employees must support and implement these core values, and work to avoid any potential implementation conflicts.
In a recent survey, although 79% of business leaders’ behaviour supported the organisation’s values, only 60% claimed to intervene to uphold them if employees’ actions weren’t supporting them. This percentage decreased to 50% during meetings and presentations, when business leaders failed to refer to their organisation’s values.
If an organisation’s values aren’t reviewed by consulting and communicating with employees, it will result in a ‘disconnect’ between the business leader and the employees. These core values can be varied, including ensuring that the premises are clean, recognising when staff go ‘above and beyond’ and rewarding them, or ensuring that when mistakes happen, one is not judged by making a mistake, but how it is rectified.
The best organisations ensure that employees know what values they should refer to when making decisions, but the survey indicated that around a quarter of employees were frustrated by a lack of leadership, with a further quarter feeling that no meaningful attempts were made to embrace and support common values. In order to make your organisation’s values deliver, ask yourself the following questions:
■ Can you list at least three core values that are important to your business?
■ Is there a joint consultation process to establish common values?
■ Are your common values reviewed at least annually?
■ Have you consciously referred to your organisation’s values when making a decision within the last two weeks?
■ Does your attitude and behaviour positively support the common values on most occasions?
■ If employees’ actions do not reflect the common values, do you intervene?
■ Are common values referred to as a point of focus during meetings and presentation?
If the answer to all of the above is ‘Yes’, you clearly know what your common values are and how they can benefit your business.
However, if most of the answers are ‘No’, then it’s time to consider how to implement a plan to identify and deliver common values. As part of this plan and review, you may identify employees who don’t share your common values and are therefore likely to be de-motivated and disruptive, requiring a disproportionate amount of valuable ‘man management’ time to resolve their work activities. If this is the case, then it becomes a decision process regarding whether they should remain as part of the business.
Conversely, ensuring shared values is a great way to help keep star employees. High- performing employees are great, but they are also generally ambitious and are attractive to other organisations, so if they feel that their values are appreciated and form part of their working environment, they are more likely to stay. These shared values are the basis of a good ‘team spirit’ and should effectively support the common goal of everyone working together in a successful business that benefits both employees and customers.
Don’t underestimate the impact that shared values can bring. It’s worth spending time on developing these shared values and working to ensure that both you and your team implement them.