Employees Should Know Your Company Values

Apr 14, 2015 7:46 AM

Company Values

As a business owner, you more than likely have a set of values and goals for your company. Whether they are in your head or written down, you strive to achieve those goals and live up to those values every day. But do your employees know what your values are? If I were to ask one of your party hosts about your company values, do you think she would honestly know what they are? And if she does know them, would she truly understand them and be able to make every-day decisions based on those values?

Just as we did in our Tip of the Week last week, we are looking to the book Made to Stick for this lesson. As the authors point out, it's important for your employees to know your company values. But just knowing them is not enough. The values need to be simple and concrete enough that your employees can use them as a point of reference in all choices they make while on the clock. For example, if your values/goals are something vague like "be the best entertainment facility in the area," is that really helpful to your staff? Does "be the best" mean offer great customer service? Or have the most volume by churning people through your facility? Or get the biggest party tips by giving away a lot of free stuff to the kids and parents?

The problem is that "be the best entertainment facility in the area" is too open to interpretation. The best ideas are simple and have a singular core message. Let's look at a couple examples from Made to Stick. Herb Kelleher, a CEO of Southwest Airlines, once claimed he could teach anyone how to run the business in less than a minute. He only needed to explain one thing: Southwest is THE low-fare airline. All decisions from every department can be made when using this statement as the context. In reality, there's a lot more to running a business than learning a single sentence. But the point is that this message is simple to understand, and it's easy to for all employees to use this message as a barometer when making decisions.

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Another example from the book is about a local newspaper called the Daily Record in Dunn, North Carolina. Hoover Adams, the founder of the newspaper, had a singular focus from the start that made him so successful: "names, names, names." By this, he meant that he wanted every story to have a local focus, with names of local people. Hoover understood that readers of a local newspaper want to hear about the people and events in their own town. To him, names were more important than writing exciting stories. Names were even more important than the bottom line or minimizing costs. Every reporter and editor understood exactly what Hoover expected out of their stories, because his message was simple.

Your employees have hundreds of interactions with guests every day. They need to make quick decisions when resolving customer issues or answering questions. If a kid drops his soda on the floor, your party host doesn't have time to analyze whether or not replacing the soda for free would fit the values of "be the best entertainment facility in the area." This message is too vague and too open to interpretation.

Now may be a good time to examine your own company values. Are they simple? Can employees - regardless of age or experience - understand those values and use them as a compass when making decisions? If the answer is yes, then you're on the right track. If not, you might want to make some adjustments to simplify your message.

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