How I changed series part 6: Now you found your values you have to live them...
The next step I had to take was an introspective one. As a boss I had to look at myself and make sure I was living the company values. I had to lead by example.
The boss has got to live the values you come up with, which I know can be hard – in the past, it would have been impossible for me. Understand that these aren’t the boss’s Values, they are the companies Values. They are not aspirations they are the values that you are going to 100% live by, as everyone does.
Here’s an example: if one of your values was ‘honesty’ (as said it shouldn’t be but it’s an easy example to make) Imagine there’s a customer’s hard drive on the desk. You walk past it, knock it off and it breaks and all the data is lost. If you can’t pick up the phone and tell the truth, that you dropped the hard drive, then your employees will know that the values mean absolutely nothing to you and they won't live them either.
Whatever values you choose, you've got to live them 100%. If you can't, go and choose another value, because the second you don't live them, the second you’re not good to work with or you don't think like a customer, your employees will spot it and then they're not good to work with and they don't think like a customer.
Whatever values you have, the boss has got to live by them. It doesn't matter if you're going to lose money in the short term, because failing to do so means you'll lose far more. If you don't live the values correctly then the money you'd lose on whatever that first job was. will be followed by successive losses.
If you don't live to those values, change them. Go through the process again. Don’t attempt to manipulate the values to be ones you think you should have, rather than the ones that you and your management team have helped you define.
If this sounds a bit twee, a bit American or a bit new age, and you think you haven’t got time for this nonsense, then let me give you some other examples.
Following finding our company values we started to choose a company charity each year and last year we were raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, as a staff member’s father was very ill from this awful disease. To raise money, on Halloween I went into work in a witch costume – think dress, wig, hat, the lot! Kate persuaded me to wear it all day (I put tights on, though, because skinny legs and big boots would have been a bad move!)
Later that day a potential new customer came into the office, who works for the military. They went into the boardroom and one of my staff came to get me and make the introductions - in my female witches’ outfit….
The first thing the customer said when we were shaking hands was: “Oh, I'm so happy to see your values are not just printed on the wall!” On that day, we raised nearly £3,000 for charity from me wearing a dress. Who knew I could raise that much in a day, maybe a future career in waiting.
That potential customer who came in, became a contract customer even though we were more expensive per year than our nearest competition, but they paid more money because they bought into our values and could see that they match theirs.
So, if you’re reading this and still thinking it sounds twee, that’s fine. But a month later, that same customer gave us a £90,000 hardware project and we’ve had loads more project work off them since.
We run at 99.2% in CSAT with a response in the high 80’s%, virtually all of our stats are classed as best in class, we haven’t had a member of staff leave for 4 years, we’ve won multiple awards since we started living the values and we don’t now have an issue with tea bags hitting the wall before they end up in the bin.
So, I’m happy with twee.
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