Why values become core once companies grow larger
One of the most critical mistakes small companies make once they start expanding is to lose sight of their core values. Many probably didn’t even realise they had any core values to begin with.
Yet it doesn’t matter whether the company in question begins life as a family-owned business, or a start-up. That company will have a founder, or founders whose strategy has made it the success it is.
Their business ethos will come naturally to them. But the same won’t apply to every new employee who walks through the door.
So as a company becomes larger, it becomes ever more important that its founders make sure their values percolate down through an organisation they no longer have complete oversight over.
It is even more important than chasing growth. For unless companies develop cohesive corporate cultures, they can come unstuck once they get to a certain size and discover that their employees are pulling in different directions.
What are company core values?
At the heart of any company’s core values, lies a definition of what it does and what it stands for. It is about creating a set of values, which help employees to interact with each other, with senior management and with the organisation’s customers.
It is about motivating employees so they have the same level of dedication as the founders. Clearly, most employees come to work because they need to earn a living, but the most motivated staff members are nearly always the ones, who feel they are working for something bigger than themselves and feel valued for what they do.
Employees who have a sense of belonging and ownership of their work are far more likely to go the extra mile and work with others to achieve it. So how can a company achieve this?
How to embed core values into an organisation
Firstly, it is very important to think very carefully about what the company’s core values actually are and then embed them into the organisation. Putting up posters is a start.
But the real skill lies in making sure those values become part of every new employee’s training and financial compensation. Far too many companies simply reward employees on the basis of hitting sales targets.
But what if that employee hit their target by short changing a customer, or creating internal dissension? That attitude won’t help the company over the longer term.
One of the best ways to ensure this doesn’t happen is by graphing an employee’s financial targets on the x-axis and core competency on the y-axis. This means that someone who has hit all their financial targets, but has a bad attitude won’t score higher than someone who has a good attitude but hasn’t hit their targets.
Others include: putting customer satisfaction first; adhering to the highest possible standards; owning your work by taking responsibility for your successes and failures; having a positive attitude and empowering others; demonstrating integrity; and emphasising continual learning and innovation.
All of these values may seem obvious, but they so often get forgotten once companies start seeing dollars in their eyes, management lines become longer and silos are created. Successful companies never forget that they are as much behavioural driven as profit driven.