Taking the time and energy to define values is one of the most important things you can do to make your company thrive.
Every single day, you wear a variety of hats and make countless choices. You play the role of professional, supporter, leader, perhaps husband or wife, father or mother. You decide which vendors are best suited for your company, how you'll respond to the employee who arrived late or praise the one who stayed late to help out with a project. You decide what you'll work on to make the most progress and what stories you'll share with your spouse when you come home at the end of the day, among many, many other decisions.
How you act each day — what decisions you make, how you treat others and why you do the things you do can all be drawn back to a single source: values.
What do you value and believe in, and how do you live it out? This is something to consider both personally and professionally.
It's challenging to accurately create, buy-in to or recognize core values for your company if your own personal core values are unclear. If you don't already have core values for your company, think about the values that are important to you as a person.
Values guide behavior and choice, so when you're trying to determine the recurring theme to why you make the decisions the way you do and why you treat others the way you believe they should be treated, think about what drives that behavior.
Are your actions reflective of your belief in honesty, directness and fast progress? Or are you driven by communication, reflection and, perhaps, taking the road less traveled?
It may be a combination of these, it may be all of them or it may be none of them. You must first figure out what drives you to act, be and do. Write it down and when you make decisions or act, determine the recurring themes.
Write down a list of choices you made last week, then write a description of their "why." In it, you'll be able to establish what value lies within what you're doing.
If you haven't established core values for your company, go through that same exercise. Involve your team and talk about company decisions and what influences them, professional relationships and how they're managed, and interaction within the office and how it affects behavior.
Do the same as above — write those things down and then describe why they happened. Your company's core values will become evident. In involving your team in the process, you show them value as well — the value you have in their vested interests.
If you already have core values for your company, they should be posted so your team members know them. Your team should also know what your company's core values mean, so they make decisions with those values in mind.
Champion AC's core values are:
- Underpromise and overdeliver.
- Treat customers like family.
- Play to our strengths.
- Ask when you need help.
- Think before reacting.
- Always do what is in the customer's best interest.
- Do what you say and say what you mean.
- Always deal in facts, not assumptions.
We make our decisions based on these core values, we hire and fire by them and we live and breathe them because we believe this is what makes us who we are.
They are at the core of everything we do, whether it has to do with recommending the most suitable HVAC unit, communicating with an upset customer over the phone or sharing ideas during a staff meeting. We consider these in our words, actions and relations.
Values in Action
One of our technicians went out in the field to repair an AC unit. There was something wrong with the coil but he couldn't determine the root of the problem and his visit was starting to draw out more than it needed to.
Rather than keep the customer waiting further, he used our technology to call into the office and show the area of concern through videos for another technician to observe. He used two core values in doing this — he asked for help when he needed it, and he did what was in the best interest of the customer.
Our technician may have been bound and determined to stay there and take as long as he needed to determine the source of the problem on his own, but he thought of the core values, used the resources at his disposable and made it an efficient experience for the customer.
Getting your core values to resonate is essential to their being. If you have them, use them. If you don't have them, create them. And then use them.
One of my personal core values is to recognize importance — my devotion to the most important task at hand or most important thing in the room.
There is a saying, "Don't ignore the urgent for the important." It means a million things can be thrown your way with red, capital-lettered URGENT notification on them. If all you do is respond to all of those urgent, on-a-whim needs or things, you leave behind the important.
It's a value of mine to devote myself to what's important and not immediately react and change my tasks to curve balls thrown at me. Often times, the urgency is false, which makes me leave the significant behind. I base decisions on recognizing importance.
Hire By Core Values
Hiring by core values doesn't mean that you're hiring clones of current employees. It means you're hiring people with the right attitude, a behavior in line with the rest of your employees and leadership — and a passionate spirit for the way things work within your company.
Take the time to work core values into your conversation. Some companies have a core value share each week during their staff meetings to call out people in a positive way and tell stories about how the various team members demonstrated the core values.
Keep them in your workplace, and your values will shine through. Post them on your website, so customers know what's important to you. Your core values will help strengthen your team's relationships, your vendors' interactions and your customers' expectations.
Taking the time and energy to define values, breathe life into them, embody them and keep them fresh and relevant is one of the most important things you can do to make your company thrive. Show your value to your very core.
Ben Hubbert, co-owner of Champion AC, is a former member of Special Operations in the Air Force (Combat Control) who's now committed to helping the San Antonio community reduce its demands on the energy grid. Ben is a firm believer in education and constantly teaches new customer service approaches and techniques. Visit championac.com for additional information.