What’s different about a business when it’s grounded in purpose? Everything. Your business’s culture is your only real competitive advantage: people can attempt to copy your products and positioning, but no one can copy your culture. When companies don’t design their culture in a specific way, they allow it to be ‘by default.’ But purpose-powered businesses have a unique culture, because they recognize the power and privilege of designing one that is an expression of their purpose to the world. In this episode, we discuss culture; specifically values as the bedrock of culture.
The wrong approach
Many companies create a list of words and hang them on the wall. That doesn’t tap into the real value of values. This doesn’t work because:
- If you’re just using words, you’re using words most other companies are already using.
- Words’ meanings can vary from person to person.
- Many times, these values exist only on the wall and are not personified anywhere else.
Kevin shares a few stories about his stay at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver and their exceptional customer service — unlike many other hotels he has visited in the past. He recounts the story of the room switch, the story of the green button, the unexpected cappuccino machine, and meeting with the lodge’s VP of Revenue Development.
Why was the Heathman Lodge so different?
- They have the Heathman Lodge Treaty, a list of all their values and examples. For example, “Whose job is it?” will never happen at the lodge. It’s everyone’s job to make the customer happy.
- When hiring, people get a copy of the treaty first, and only get an application form if they agree to the treaty and sign it.
How do you bring values to life in your organization?
Personalize the values into expressions of who you are and what’s different in your organization or business. And then:
- Use this as your criteria for hiring
- Rank-order them, so people know what’s important when making a decision.
- Use your values as your compass to make things right when things go wrong.
- Operationalize your values: put them into action. Get them off the wall and into hearts.
Unless and until values translate into behaviors and beliefs, the benefit of values will either be marginalized or minimized.
Hagen Kern is the owner of Junk King Chicago Downtown, a full-service junk removal business in their early stages of formalizing their company’s values.
Purpose according to Hagen is having clear, defined objectives on what they want to achieve with the business.
- “It’s not just about making money. It’s, what do we bring to the table? What are we actually solving? What are we for? What do we stand for? It’s important that we can relate this to our employees, and employees can relate this to customers.”
Why have a purpose statement?
- Hagen talks about having issues with high turnover rates. That’s when they realized it was time to find theright people for the business, those who can stand behind their purpose and values and identify with them — so they can represent them.
- Vision and mission statements can be too vague and too far removed from employees’ and customers’ everyday experiences. He wanted a purpose statement that everybody in the company could be involved in, see their part in, connect with, and make come to life on a daily basis.
- Everybody is a stakeholder for that purpose.
The purpose statement in action
Hagen’s company’s purpose statement has a list of 7 values they live by.
- For example: Honesty. As a hauling company, sometimes things get damaged or scratched up. Living by the value of honesty means owning up to it, and never leaving it for the customer to find out. The customer must hear it from them.
- These are basic, relatable values, and Hagen shares the process behind coming up with them.
What do they do with this list?
- Integrate it into the hiring application, because they want to hire by character
- Relate to them when situations come up, or when there are miscommunications. (e.g. “Yeah, we probably didn’t go the extra mile this one time.”
- Bring it up during team meetings, and on occasion, have a team member pick a value and articulate what it means to them in their own words.
- Keep it on display all over the office, to keep them top of mind.
Hagen wants to inspire and encourage others to incorporate purpose and values into their work. If you can make what you want to achieve relatable, then you’ll keep your employees motivated, and they, in turn, will do their day-to-day work in a superior and excellent manner.
Parting words and next steps
It’s not too early or too late to bring purpose into fruition through your work. If this resonated with you and you want to take the next step, check out Kevin’s free resource: go to 28daysprint.com and download the free Value of Values worksheet.
Resources mentioned in this episode: