Moving Beyond a Core Values Mismatch

It can happen after only a few minutes of conversation with someone. Your stomach clenches, your heart rate might accelerate, and you start to fidget. You feel uncomfortable and want to escape the conversation. So do you have food poisoning? Nope, worse. You have a core values mismatch.

Successful business owners know few things matter more than surrounding themselves with the “right” people. That can mean employees, clients, vendors, investors, peer groups – anyone with whom they share their time and energy. Being around people who share their values helps them build deeper trust, lead better, and grow faster. Everything around them just works!

Core Values in Your Business – Employees

Core values are timeless guiding principles. They can define both your culture and the type of people working there. When applied in your organization, they attract like-minded people and weed out people who simply don’t fit the culture. Once you have your core values in place, you should use them for all hiring, firing, promoting, and rewarding decisions.

One of the core values in my business is “Do the Right Thing.” All EOS Implementers® and EOS Worldwide employees share this and four other values. And I deeply believe in all of them.

One day I discovered that an employee hadn’t been following the process we agreed upon in handling a step in the sales funnel. When I asked her about it, she replied: “I didn’t think you’d notice.”

That triggered such a powerful reaction in me! I immediately realized she didn’t align with “Do the Right Thing” as a value. Needless to say, she did not last long after that incident with our organization.

If you have a core values mismatch with an employee, you probably already know it. And so does your team. And that mismatch causes uncomfortable tension for everyone.

For example, do you discuss the same person in meetings over and over and over again? Or do you avoid talking to them or come away from conversations with a sinking feeling in your gut?

You know why. I find if I have an unreasonably emotional reaction to someone, I immediately see a lousy core value fit.

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Core Values in Your Business – Vendors & Clients

Choosing who you work with outside of your team matters too. Your clients and vendors don’t need to share the exact same values as you, but they should reasonably align.

If my company believes in “Help First,” I don’t want to work with organizations that favor “Grab with Both Hands.” That wouldn’t make a good fit for either of us. For example, I won’t work with organizations that I believe take unfair advantage of people or engage in predatory practices.

On the other hand, collaborating with companies that share my values feels incredibly gratifying and productive. I enjoy working with companies that take care of the people who support them and deliver on commitments. They want to make sure everyone feels good and brings their best energy to the relationship. They allow everyone to do their best work and help us create a high-performing team.

Resolving a Core Values Mismatch

Even if you choose your people with care, at some point you’ll find yourself stuck in a core values mismatch. When it happens, you’ll know it in your gut. Below I suggest three approaches you can take to move forward.

  1. Measure Your People

Evaluating people will always feel like a complex and subjective process. The People Analyzer™ tool lets you score each member of your team on how well they fit your core values. It gives you a quantifiable way to articulate what you already know in your bones. The clearer you define the problem, the more quickly you can decide what to do next.

  1. Enter the Danger

When facing a difficult decision, most people tend to freeze. Our primal brain triggers a fight-or-flight response to protect us when we become fearful. But you won’t do that. You’ll shift to your prefrontal brain, where you can be open and honest about the problem.

  1. Take Action 

I bet you already know what you have to do, and you’re just procrastinating doing it. Many leaders struggle to avoid making bad decisions and taking far too long to make good ones. Decide right now that you won’t let this core values mismatch drain your energy and stall your progress any longer.

Where do you go from here? EOS® founder Gino Wickman shares several options in this video on addressing personnel issues. They include reshuffling the roles to find a better fit, having a “last chance” conversation, or termination. But whatever you do, don’t ignore the problem.

Great decisions make great actions

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