One of the first steps along a company’s journey with EOS® is defining the values that drive the business forward. Values are foundational to everything else a business does, from hiring the right people to pursuing the right types of customers.
Once its values are clearly defined, a team should celebrate. It has just created an important long-term asset for the business. Now it’s time to make use of it.
Knowing who you are isn’t always easy
Every time I guide new clients through their Vision Building™ exercise, I’m struck by how difficult many people find it. Brainstorming ideas, selecting the most accurate ones, and choosing the right words to express them can take an entire day or even several long sessions.
Why is that? There are a few good reasons:
- Values are somewhat subjective. Before going through the Vision Building process, it’s common for everyone on a team to have different ideas about what a company’s Core Values are. A person’s role often has a big influence on how they think about values.
- Wordsmithing can be difficult. The EOS Leadership Team Manual includes a long list of example values for a reason. Some Visionaries already have clear ideas about the words they prefer, but many only have a vague sense of where to begin. Going from a shapeless concept to a short phrase can be a challenge for some teams.
- Real disagreement. Sometimes a lack of shared values only becomes obvious when a team sits down to discuss them.
Putting your values to work
A company’s Core Values aren’t meant to just sit on the V/TO™. They should become part of everything the company does. Here are some examples of what that means:
- Using values to set goals.
Several years ago, one of my clients decided that charitable giving would be a central aim of their business’s long-term objectives. During their Vision Building day, they decided to make “Giving Back” one of their Core Values.
They quickly discovered that centralizing charity as a value changed the way they set their company’s short- and long-term goals. To make sure they were doing more than just writing checks every December to support organizations they believe in, now they set rocks every quarter to contribute the company’s talents directly to those causes. It has not only helped them feel good about what they do, but it has also helped them recruit.
- Hiring people.
Speaking of recruiting, a company’s Core Values are perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle when deciding who to hire. The right candidate will bring all the necessary skills and talents to do the job, but if they don’t also share the company’s values they won’t be a good long-term fit.
I recently helped one of my clients apply their Core Values to a candidate screening process. They were eager to hire someone for a client services role. On paper, she was an ideal fit for what they needed. She had good experience, a rare mix of skills, and enthusiasm for the role.
But they are a highly collaborative group and she constantly described herself as a “lone wolf.” After sitting in on an interview with her, I raised the question of whether she’d fit the company’s values. It was as though I’d pulled back the curtain to reveal a secret. A few weeks later, they made a different hire, this time making sure to focus on values along with skills. The person they hired has worked out to be a perfect match.
A company’s Core Values aren’t just about the internal audience. They also are important in building lasting relationships with customers.
One of my clients is a content marketing agency. They recommend their clients always put values at the forefront of their strategy. Their CEO told me, “We’ve learned through experience that the best clients are aligned with our values. Building trust is a lot easier with like-minded organizations.”
He recommends putting your company’s values at the forefront of your marketing plan. “We like to put them right at the top of websites where visitors can’t miss them. There’s really no limit to their value as a marketing tool. They work well on social media, for instance.”
Discover your Core Values with EOS
I love helping my clients nail down their business identities. It’s an important way EOS adds value to the companies that run it.
How has your team leveraged its shared values? I’d like to hear about your experiences or chat about how you can get started. You can find me on LinkedIn, send me an email, or give me a call at (818) 649-1103.