These values should be the backbone of your company – and everyone involved should reflect them.
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The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
When you look at all of the thousands of companies currently operating, you will quickly find that customers can easily get similar products or services from many different locations. What really sets you apart are your core values. It is these ideas and beliefs that both employees and buyers will empathize with and connect with. How do you create them and make sure people really follow them?
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1. Look at what other companies are doing
Chatting with executives from other companies will tell you how they work and what they believe in. There are tons of books out there that outline what high-growth companies do. In either case, however, you want a summary of best practices so that you can get a basic overview of how a business works.
2. Think about how you want to shape the world
Think about what you personally want to create as a founder. Here you set standards and innovate with real individuality, even if you take existing best practices into account. How should the environment be or look like? What do you want to achieve depending on who you are? Then, be as radically transparent and honest about your goals as possible. Take extreme responsibility for your concepts and consistently stand up for them.
3. Create a clear manual
Looking at best practices and knowing how you want to shape your universe will give you clarity about what your core values actually are. Once you've identified these values, you need to translate them into day-to-day business behavior. You can't just sit around and talk about what you're thinking.
This is where the manual comes in. In the manual, describe all the policies and procedures that affect what people do. Between the lines of all technical regulations you communicate what the culture should look like. Train your team well on your guidelines. Test them to make sure they understand the framework you have set up and can work. When done right, you will have built-in mechanisms that will account for your team and continually strengthen your values.
4. Make the values outside of the rules visible
There are several ways you can reinforce the ideas in your manual. For example, sprinkle a natural mention of your core values in an email or post it on your wall so people will see them on their way to their desks every day. The more they are exposed to the concepts, the easier it is for them to internalize those concepts. People have to internalize values before these beliefs can really guide their behavior or decisions.
5. Go the way – and don't do it alone
How well people actually follow your manual rules depends a lot on whether you actually model what you want others to do. If you don't go for a walk, people will get the impression that you are not serious about any of the set and repetitive frameworks. The policy can go out the window.
Of course you are only one person. You can't always be everywhere. So you need some MEPs. These are people you can count on to model on your behalf. They are people who already share your thinking and have great accountability and integrity with their own actions. They dramatically speed up how quickly others come on board to change their activities.
6. Rinse and repeat
No market is static. Not only that, but as you gain life experience, your perspective – and values - will change. Developing your company's core values and ensuring that employees practice them is therefore an ongoing process. Take the time to rethink your beliefs, goals, guidelines, and models. Make adjustments when and where it makes sense.
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Core values are the real differentiator in today's global marketplace. They make a huge difference in whether your company culture is healthy and welcoming. So it is very important that you apply best practices and your own goals, blend them together and create a manual that gives people specific ways to act on clear lines. You can't be afraid to model the beliefs contained in the manual, and you need reliable people who can scale the modeling you have done. Whether you are in a startup or need to undertake a serious rebranding at an established company, insist that establishing and executing core values is a priority.