A strong foundation – employees working from a set of shared values – lays the investment and groundwork for your company. Here are the five values that I strive to achieve in my own business.
Company values have long been a driving force in consumer engagement and brand reputation. Some examples of these values include Patagonia's sustainability mission, Swell's goal of eliminating plastic bottles and Everlane's commitment to ethically-made clothing.
Now more than ever, consumers, clients, and employees alike are demanding transparency with a company's values, and this increased demand for transparency is playing a growing role in decisions by consumers about where they want to shop and work.
Outbound mission statements need to start from a foundation of strong internal company values – principles that are lived day to day by everyone from the CEO on down. When principles are established and everyone abides by them in a company, it fosters a workplace where employees are more invested in each other and the work they're doing, which lays the groundwork for success in all areas.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs who believed strongly in cultivating internal company values and have passed down several lessons to success. My great-grandfather and his four sons rose from poverty to start the Winn-Dixie grocery chain and built it into one of the leading grocery stores in the U.S. My grandfather entered the family business and continued its expansion, all the while building a personal philosophy on how to lead by example to run a successful business.
I've made my career in the B2B space, but I've found that the lessons I learned from my grandfather apply across both B2C and B2B, and to both global organizations and small neighborhood operations.
Here are five of the core company values I learned from my family that I strive to achieve in my own business and why these seemingly simple tenets can be key drivers to your company's success.
1. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. The good old Golden Rule should be a given in all aspects of life, but it's funny how profits and ego can get in the way.
2. Do what you say you're going to do. This one comes from a place of transparency. Always honor your commitments while being upfront about what is needed to do so. Decisiveness, reliability and results are crucial for earning the trust of both your colleagues and clients.
3. Do the right thing. You can run a successful business and deliver value to your clients without having to cheat, lie or succumb to other temptations. Believe in what you can bring to the table and the rest will follow.
4. Be passionate and make great things happen. Enthusiasm is contagious. A clear passion for your work, combined with recognizing the effort and contributions of dedicated colleagues, can fuel the creativity and productivity of your entire team.
5. You are not powerless. Fostering a sense of empowerment and collective responsibility throughout the company encourages innovation and builds in additional checks and balances. When everyone's ideas have value, we all become more invested in the company's success.
These core values have held up for me through the valleys of recession and the peaks of rapid growth. The reason they have served as such invaluable guidelines is that I live by them each day, both in my business and personal life. I never want these values to merely be talking points, copy for a website or propaganda.
Putting them into action on a daily basis and leading by example lends credibility to the importance and impact of these ideas. Taking the time to get to know each employee through regular small group lunches or acknowledging that a planned release needs more time to bake – these seemingly small things all reinforce our values and demonstrate that they're more than lip service.
As you evaluate your business operations and goals, work to identify areas where you can improve internal buy-in and growth, whether it's diversifying your decision-makers to increase employee empowerment or implementing steps to increase transparency. A strong foundation – employees working from a set of shared core values – lays the investment and groundwork for your company to succeed.