DO YOU HAVE THE GUTS TO LIVE, BREATHE & BLEED THOSE VALUES?
By Brian Williams
“We’re building a culture of accountability, trust and togetherness. Entitlement will not be tolerated.”
“How good can we expect to be if our best player is not our best teammate?”
These are quotes from Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens. The takeaway from just these few soundbites is that Stevens created a set of values his team should live by.
When players express displeasure with their court time, they find themselves removed. Stevens has no room on his bench for whiners. Instead, he looks for players willing to check their ego at the locker room door and work together for the betterment of the organization – a team willing to band together under a shared set of values and achieve what they believe in together.
Brad Stevens has it exactly right. He knows that his people will look to each other for clues on how to act and what he expects. At the very core, values are an extremely powerful tool for every type and size business. They are critical, they take guts and here’s why:
- Values will help attract the right people to the company. It’s crucial to know who to attract to the organization. Anyone? Everyone? People with a certain set of values that closely match those identified for the organization? To attract smart, innovative, dedicated and hard-working people who work well together, have a set of values reflecting those traits. Always remember: Skills can be learned, but character is something an employee does or doesn’t have.
- Values will help coach the team through difficult times, and help keep the people who fit best with the organization. Values provide the foundation for coaching the team through the rough patches, when employees find themselves veering off course or when anyone finds themselves in uncharted territory. A set of core values will also help a team grow together, uniting with a collective desire to make a difference, laser focused on the same goal, moving in the same direction under a constant and unwavering set of beliefs.
- Values help hold everyone accountable and retire people who don’t fit with the company. It’s possible to have a high performing employee who is a lousy teammate. Employees who ignore process, snub team dynamics and engage in watercooler talk divide entire organizations and cause failure. How do you hold them accountable or correct the problem if what they’ve done isn’t illegal, immoral, unethical or a direct HR violation? Values make everyone accountable, create talking points when a problem does arise and gives a remedy if needed.
There are also three essential things to keep in mind when creating values for an organization. Fair warning, they all move past the usual rhetoric, and require introspection and action.
The Key to Creating a Set of Values in an Organization is Knowing Why
What are the motives and what’s to be accomplished? Don’t put together a set of values because the rest of the world thinks it’s the right thing to do, but the leader of the company isn’t going to live by them. Right here, right now, the CEO and the executive team need to appoint themselves the Chief Accountability Officers of Values. Only draft a set of values that everyone can be held accountable for and believe in 100 percent.
Once Creating Values for the Organization, You Have to Live, Breathe and Bleed Them
Be passionate about every single value put on paper, because in the end, there must be full commitment to live by the values chosen. Be willing to hire only the people who align with the values, to coach the team through difficult situations guided by the values, and be willing to discipline people and let people go based on the values. If not committed to doing all of those things, then the values will exist only as poster art.
There Are Challenges to Instilling Values in a Company
Here is where the guts come in. The biggest challenge? CEOs can only roll out what they have true conviction for because people are going to test their behavior. Don’t decide to give in and alter the wording on one value “this time” to make a sale; or decide not to abide by a few of the values for one month because it’s a busy time, or because it was the best employee who violated them. Hold up in the heat of the battle, otherwise trust will be lost and values intended to create solidarity will be exploited.
People think there is a huge gap between success and failure. It’s not true. The gap is very small, often as little as five percent. If the company can be five percent better at attracting, coaching and growing the right people while removing the wrong ones, if five percent better at providing the right leadership, and five percent better at selling deals and driving margins, it has a compounding effect. The company will crush the competition. That five percent effect is rooted in values. Values are the difference-maker for an organization. Values provide the means to bring teams together and give an organization the edge.
Brian Williams is a co-founder and CEO of OneSource Virtual, the leading Business Process as a Service company leveraging the Workday platform to deliver end-to-end consulting, and in-application HR and IT outsourcing solutions that maximize customers’ return on investment.