“Vision, mission and values … those are just meaningless words on a wall poster! In fact, most employees couldn’t even tell you one-quarter of what the sign says”, scoffs one manager I know.
Unfortunately, this is a sentiment that I hear more often than I’d like! When senior leaders in organizations spend time (hours, sometimes even days) developing the vision, mission and core values for their company, their ultimate wish is that their employees will take these principles and ideals to heart; in fact, their hope is that the values become so firmly entrenched in the minds and actions of their employees that it becomes an integral part of the organizational culture. But with prevailing sentiments much like the above, should leaders even bother? Well my answer is, unequivocally, “yes”! Not only is it possible to get all your employees on the same page when it comes to corporate values, but those companies who do, reap the benefit of enthusiastic customer loyalty, highly-engaged employees and bottom-line profitability. A couple of years ago, I wrote about an experience with Tim Hortons that proves this point. And just recently, it became apparent to me, once again, that when leaders live and breathe their core values, highly-engaged employees do the same, and that leads to the ultimate bottom-line outcome – loyal repeat customers who become word-of-mouth advocates to the people they know!
My most recent experience was with the adventure travel company G Adventures. The company’s culture is driven by five clearly articulated core values, one of which is: do the right thing. Here’s the long story in short. A personal situation jeopardized the summer trip we had booked with G Adventures. The company had no contractual responsibility to help us manage this situation (and we didn’t expect them to), but they nevertheless chose to step in and help us make alternate arrangements. It was a difficult and very emotionally stressful time for both my husband and I, but by showing empathy and compassion, and by exercising flexibility, G Adventures went above and beyond to make things better. They chose to “do the right thing”, something that we have seen in different levels of their organization in our previous interactions with them. We have been long-time loyal customers because of our earlier experiences, but now, because of this most recent situation, we are life-long advocates. By repeatedly doing the right thing, G Adventures turned a customer into a repeat customer and now into a raving fan.
This is what happens when you clearly articulate your core values, give your leaders the freedom to be role models, and create an environment where your employees are empowered to act on those core values.
Well, you know that I get very excited when I see organizations doing this right! But what about you? What have you seen? What about in your organization? Do your leaders and your staff live and breathe your core values? (How well have you articulated yours?) Do tell.