Mediocre companies often pay lip service to corporate values but operate like they don’t actually have any.
The best companies live and breathe the values that the CEO sets from the top down. These companies know that when you develop the right set of values, and embed them in everything the company does, those principles can guide the company’s decision making and become a competitive advantage.
At CEO Coaching International, we have best practices in place that help our clients determine their core values, and make sure their leadership team practices those values every day. Let’s work through the process, including a FREE tool you can download right here.
1. Let your vision and mission guide you.
You can’t just pull a set of buzzwords out of thin air and say, “These are our values.” The CEO has to be Crystal Ball-clear about the company’s vision and mission.
Your vision for the company is the view from the top of the mountain. It’s your vision of ultimate success, whether that means a huge, outrageous sales target you want to hit, a group of territories you want to break into, or some other BHAG. It’s the WHAT.
WHY are you climbing the mountain? That’s your mission statement. Google climbs the mountain, “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” “Saving people money so they can live better,” is why Walmart climbs the mountain.
Your values reflect HOW your company is going to act during the journey. How is your company going to treat its customers? How is your company going to interact with the community in which you’re based? How is your corporate culture going to operate, from the boardroom on down to the mailroom?
As with just about every aspect of a successful business, values start with clarity from the CEO. If you don’t know what you want, it’s impossible to communicate why you want it, and how you’re going to get it.
2. Write down your values and reinforce them.
- Inspire others by believing in yourself.
- Do more with less.
- Be ridiculous.
- Teamwork makes a dream work.
- Continuous self-improvement.
- Always strive for excellence.
- Exercise emotional intelligence.
Those are the values that CEO Coaching International client TaskUs instills in its employees. This is HOW the company acts as it continues to blow past $100 million in annual revenue.
Those values might sound like a mouthful, but on a recent podcast, co-founder and president Jaspar Weir said, “I would bet almost every single one of our 8000-plus employees could tell you all of our core values — because we reinforce them.” At the end of every meeting, TaskUs employees recognize each other for exhibiting a core value in their work the previous week.
At CEO Coaching International, we drill home our values with an easy-to-remember acronym: PICNIC. That simple phrase reminds us to be Passionate about our work, have an Impact on our clients’ businesses and lives, have the Courage to tell our clients what needs to be said, work with No Drama, demonstrate Integrity through our attention to our clients, and have Compassion for our clients’ problems.
PICNIC are the values that stemmed from my vision for CEO Coaching International.
PICNIC is HOW we’ve helped the companies we work with grow to over $6 billion in annual revenue.
Setting your own set of values is step one on the Core Values Scorecard tool. Think about what you want, and why you want it. Write down five core values that will guide your company up the mountain.
3. Hire the right people.
Nothing throws off values you’re trying to build like a bad hire – especially in a management or C-Suite position. And there are few expenses that will drive you crazier than the time and money you’ll waste replacing someone who never should have been working for you.
That’s why it’s so critical you get the absolute best people in the right jobs the first time. Communicate your vision to prospective hires. Anyone who doesn’t seem enthusiastic shouldn’t make your shortlist. Place a high emphasis on culture fit. High-performers who are more concerned with their own vision and values aren’t going to move your company forward. Use a Talent Insights Profile to figure out what makes a candidate tick. And make sure your People department does all its homework.
4. Keep score.
Your values and your team are in place. Now make sure they’re in sync.
Use the bottom half of the Core Values Scorecard to list your leadership team and rank how each member exhibits each value on a scale from 1-10.
50 is a perfect score, an employee who practices the company’s values in every single facet of his or her job. Top CEOs prize those 50s. They fight the competition to hire them. They make the proverbial “offer they can’t refuse,” no matter what the cost, to get those 50s working for them.
Underperforming CEOs settle for low 40s, maybe even high 30s, and wonder why that view from the mountain top never gets any closer.
Personally, I’d look at anyone who scores in that 40-45 range and think about what I could do as CEO to coach that employee up to 46 or better.
Anyone who scores under 40 probably won’t be working for me much longer.
That’s how important having and practicing strong values is to CEO Coaching International, and to the successful companies we work with. That’s how important setting and scoring your own values will be on your way to making BIG happen.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. His firm coaches over 150 of the world’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and CEO’s from 17 countries on how to dramatically grow their revenues and profits, implement the most effective strategies, becoming better leaders, grow their people, build accountability systems, and elevate their own performance. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.