What Do Your Company Values Say About You?
How important are company values? Well, they matter on two fronts. First, they matter because the values of a company will likely affect its success and the level of connection and loyalty it has with its customers. Second, the type of values a company has will directly affect the type of talent it attracts and retains.
On a personal note, I have worked for some well-known companies during my career. In that time, I have experienced situations where I can readily align with the company values and have enjoyed my tenure in those companies. I have also worked for a couple of companies where I could not find that match and alignment between what I valued and what the company valued. As a result, I was less than happy, leaving both after short stints.
Companies That Do Right By Customers Often Do Right by Employees
Although there are countless companies around the globe, the common factor among the great ones is that they embrace a certain set of values and recruit accordingly. A person who is not a great cultural fit for one company may become a rising star in another because his or her values align more closely.
Great companies know their audience and hold themselves and their employees to a high standard of service when interacting with their audience. A quick look at the service-oriented values of companies like Barnes & Noble and Zappos shows that customers are at the core of their company values.
Although these companies believe in doing right by their customers, they also do right by their employees. For instance, take a look at the staggeringly low turnover rate at Zappos. When the company relocated from California to Las Vegas in 2005, nearly 80% of the company’s CA-based employees relocated to Nevada. And in 2008, the annual turnover rate among Zappos’ call center employees was 39% — well below the national average of 150%. Obviously, they’re doing something right!
With this in mind, here is a short list of what I think represent great company values that drive success and loyalty from both customers and employees. Finding the right people who share your values is crucial to success. And people finding the right company to work for is crucial to their happiness. Here are a few ways to try to balance both:
- Truly put your customers’ needs first. In the end, every company is in business to serve customers who need their product or service. Those who serve those needs best will succeed. Those who don’t will flounder and eventually wither away.
- Hire people who share the company’s focus on addressing the needs of the customer and keeping the customer top of mind. It is amazing how powerful it is to have an “army” of people all focused on improving what/how you sell for the benefit of the customer.
- Create a culture of ideas. Much is said about innovation, but the truth is that first you must create an environment where people are discussing their ideas. Too often you see companies mired in conversations about their processes and very little conversation on how to make the product/service better for the customer.
- Create a culture of listening, both to the customer and to your colleagues.
- Hire people who are smart and capable. Heck, hire people that are smarter than you. There is nothing more energizing than working with people who will challenge your thinking and will come up with things others haven’t thought of before.
- Be fair—in providing honest feedback, in rewarding good performers and in addressing under-performance. Also, be fair when addressing customer complaints, because all customers want is a fair resolution.
- Finally, think about how your company culture fits into the broader picture on a much higher level. How is your company being socially responsible? How do you give back to and integrate with your community? Every business exists within a community and should make sure it is making a positive impact in it.
In the end, companies are more than the products/services they offer. They are a collection of people that show up every day trying to make a difference for the better. Strong values create a vibrant culture where people want to be and want to interact with each other. And in the end, that vibrancy leads to better results and a better future for any company.