Over the course of my career I have worked at a large number of companies in multiple capacities, gradually progressing to a leadership level. Every company I have worked at has had a distinct value system. Sometimes this was articulated; sometimes it was not but in any case it was usually very evident.
Simply put, your company’s core values are“the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions.” —Patrick M. Lencioni, Harvard Business Review
When I founded EGFS it was incredibly important to me to create a values-based organization.
Our leadership team has spent a lot of time discussing what this means. At the end of the day what we have really landed on is “the good person” litmus test. I know this might sound overly simplistic but it has worked for us.
How does “the good person” test demonstrate our company values?
What it means is that every time we face a difficult situation or make an important decision we apply this test. In the simplest terms it means that:
- We try to act ethically, honestly and with compassion and empathy.
- We treat our employees and our clients and our partners in the way that we want to be treated.
- We do not act differently in our professional capacity than we do in our personal lives.
- We never do anything that we would be ashamed of if a spouse, one of our children, or our mothers found out.
- We act honorably and as a result we can always be proud of who we are as professionals and as an organization.
Many of the entrepreneurs that we work with do not think about these issues but they should.
Along with career development,compensation, and perks company values are the glue that keeps you working well together, builds commitment, and keeps everyone’s goals aligned.
Living your company values
Once you’ve identified your company values, it’s not enough just to post them on your website. You should continuously communicate them in word and in deed. That means explaining your company values to candidates during the interview process, sharing them with new hires during the onboarding process, assessing potential business partners for their fit with your values, and constantly pointing to examples of your values in action. Your values should inform your business decisions.
Of course, making sound business decisions also involves analyzing the numbers and considering alternate scenarios, but if you continually find yourself making decisions that conflict with your values, you need to recalibrate. If you only pay lip service to your values, then they aren’t really values.
Building your value system
If you’re not sure what your values are, start by talking with your founding team. Then sound out your employees as well as querying your customers and business partners. It may surprise you — but even if you’ve never clearly stated your values, they show through in your actions and in your repeated behaviors including what and who gets rewarded and who or what doesn’t.
A clearly communicated and reinforced values system helps guide your company, unite your team, and can even be a source of competitive advantage. For EGFS, it has been a key component of our strategic approach and an important contributor in our success to date.
Do you have comments or tips on networking? Ask us in the comments section below or contact Early Growth Financial Services for a free 30-minute financial consultation.
David Ehrenberg is the founder and CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, a financial services firm providing a complete suite of financial and accounting services to companies at every stage of the development process. He’s a financial expert and startup mentor, whose passion is helping businesses focus on what they do best. Follow David @EarlyGrowthFS.