Preface: The incorporation of extraordinary customer service values, superior client satisfaction values, and a value of team excellence developed in your business, you will ultimately reward you as an entrepreneur. Every aspect of your business culture develops from values. Extraordinary value is the result of extraordinarily developed teamwork values.
The Values in Value
Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA
Your business values determine your business’s value in the long term. Values are the desired culture of your business–-the behaviors of your company. Why should your business develop and adhere to values? It gives your business a philosophical heartbeat; it’s what you do for your customers. Simply, that’s how you develop value in business–with the value of your business’s services and/or products.
Bright Horizon Family Solutions employs 25,000 people in the US and UK. When Roger Brown and Linda Mason started the business in 1986 to provide high quality child care at workplace centers, little did they imagine what was in store. Less than 30 years later the company has $1.2 billion in revenues with 16,000 employees in the US. With early education and preschool services, Bright Horizon Family Solutions has a simple core value statement with the acronym HEART–-Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Respect, and Teamwork. This is the culture of the business. Employees of Bright Horizons demonstrate these cultural values every day. And it works, because employees are committed to continuing a cultural value of honesty, excellence, accountability, respect, and teamwork, every day in the workplace. It’s the guiding compass to the service they provide to their clients-–the parents who entrust their children’s care to Bright Horizons.
Today’s business environment often has debased values. But that’s not to say your business should debase values, too. Bright Horizons wouldn’t be at $1.2 billion in revenue in their industry without adhering to extraordinary core values.
What can adhering to core values do your for business? Four categories of values can exist, according to Patrick Lencioni. They include core values, aspirational values, permission-to-play values, and progress values.
Core values are those deeply engrained in management and the board’s actions and behaviors. Core values are the cultural cornerstones of a business. Core values should be adhered to at all costs. Core values provide a solid foundation for setting the cultural tone as new opportunities and markets develop.
Aspirational values are those values that a business strives to obtain in the future. The aspirational value of better balance between work and home life may develop, with the desire to work around the schedules of employees who need flex time , or the flexibility to work a certain number of hours within a set time frame. Maybe today your business cannot provide flex hours, but it can strive towards that value in the future.
Permission-to-play values are the minimum standards required to get hired. You can create a set of permission-to-play values for new employees. But permission-to-play values should not be core values.
Progress values arise from marketplace trends. For instance, the value of autonomous employees can develop as your culture grows and your workforce learns what’s required to succeed, a culture that’s more than just a paycheck.
Why should you set values in your business? You need to develop a culture built on a set of principles that are fundamental and strategically sound for building your business. To relook at Bright Horizons values, it is the belief in the work environment of Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Respect, and Teamwork that earned them the trust of millions of customers–and billions in revenues.
You need to weave core values into every area of your business, from marketing, to hiring, to research and development, to installation. If your employees come to work every day understanding that they work for a business with extraordinary values, where they are held to high standards or extraordinary standards, you will differentiate your business from the competition. You will achieve more from everyone on the team.
Don’t for a moment think that incorporating values is easy. It’s not. But if a little work on exceptional core values seems daunting, think about fixing the problems resulting from the absence of values. You probably already have values that govern your business, but maybe they are unwritten and not communicated or not understood. Document what your business values and what you envision those business values too be.
If you incorporate extraordinary values, or develop them in your business, when every aspect of your business culture grows from those values, you will ultimately reward yourself and your employees with extraordinary value (tangible and intangible).