Many businesses and leaders create a mission – vision – values statement then publish their values and forget them. Not a criticism really, just a simple truth. Management courses say they are necessary and you should have them, so managers create them. But what then? How do you use them to improve your business?
My answer is simple and incredibly hard to do. You use them every day in your decision making processes.
When was the last time you looked at your company values…I mean really looked at them and thought about your actions and checked they matched? Mission and vision are usually kept in mind, but most business leaders believe their primary purpose is to maximise profitability. I agree that businesses should be profitable, but there is a wide spectrum of how you do that. We are learning that how you make money is more important than how much money you make. It is my belief that focusing more on how you make money will mean you earn more in the long term. If your actions are aligned with your stated values it builds trust and respect with your entire supply chain, creating predictability of behaviour.
Is cash your primary focus? Let’s be honest, in the current situation it would be reasonable. If so how does that fit with your values?
This is what your values are for isn’t it, to ensure that when difficult decisions must be made you don’t regret them later. Clear values ensure your moral compass does not get damaged with short term needs. For example, many small shop owners (and some much larger businesses!) have dramaticaly increased the cost of essential goods. This could be seen as an impact of market demand or it could be sen as profiteering. Everyone expects prices to rise a little, but if customers believe that prices have risen disproportionately to costs this will lead to friction. Some customers will pay for the goods now, however they will also change suppliers as soon as possible. One must also ask if the short term profit made is worth the long term reputational damage. If your only concern is how much profit can be made it all seems reasonable. If you are putting your customer’s business at risk to increase your own profits, your customers won’t forgive you easily or quickly. As Henry Ford said;
“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”
Join the discussion below, let me know if this matches your experience. If you are aleader, what are the challenges in getting your values used in the business?