Company values are the core set of principles that your company stands by and promotes. Some might think these are just a bunch of nice-sounding slogans or a marketing stunt meant to attract customers. But when you stand by your values and place them at the core of your business, they can act as a guide for your employees in those unpredictable situations that aren’t mapped by your set of procedures.
Procedures are a well-established set of rules that let people know how they should behave in certain situations. These are in place to make the workflow predictable, the operations quicker, and the overall business more effective. However, you can’t possibly have rules for any possible situation, and you must make sure that your employees make the best decisions in those unpredictable situations. Therefore, both values and procedures are important for the prosperity of your business.
So how can you achieve a balance between values and procedures when building your company culture? Read forward and find out!
Hold on to your values
Your company values should reflect your beliefs. Make sure that everyone understands your vision and prioritizes the company values in their day-to-day tasks. This is what drives your employees more likely to make decisions that you would make yourself.
It is also very important to have values that act as a behavioral guide. You have to be specific to make sure your company values facilitate decision-making. For example “we take initiative and ownership” seems like a value that pushes employees to get out of their comfort zone and be straightforward while taking responsibility for their actions. Or “no risk no reward” is likely to encourage employees to act more boldly and not be afraid of failure, which encourages creativity and drives innovation.
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Whatever your company values are, it’s important to apply them constantly, with no exceptions. Of course, it all starts with you and the power of example.
Allow employees to make and change the rules
The best way to create a culture of responsibility is by showing flexibility and making your employees feel like they have control over the rules. Allow teams to establish rules and change them whenever they need to adapt to changes in the business.
Of course, it is important for all these rules to align with the company values, which is why managers should shift their responsibility from dictating rules and procedures to coaching their teams about the company values.
Make sure procedures align with your values
Having procedures in place can be a massive time-saver and also a guarantee of quality. A great example of this is Starbucks. Their procedures are so strong and important that you will have exactly the same experience at a Starbucks coffee shop in Chicago as at one in Amsterdam. Besides a similar layout, decor, and menu, the employees will smile at you, ask your name, prepare your coffee, and then call your name to give you your cup of coffee with your name written on the side.
Starbucks’ mission is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time” while their values are:
- Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
- Acting with courage, challenging the status quo, and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
- Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity, and respect.
- Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
- We are performance-driven, through the lens of humanity.”
You can see how their procedures are clearly in place to reflect their values. By asking people their names, smiling, making jokes, or even drawing a smiley face on the cup, Starbucks employees are creating a connection with their customers, making them feel welcome, and belonging. Through all these, Starbucks becomes more than a place that serves coffee. It’s an experience that customers enjoy and which they will seek wherever they are in the world because it will always bring a feeling of home.
The universal value that should be applied all the time, by everyone, is transparency. Do not withhold important information from your employees and encourage them to be straightforward, be open about their faults, and always willing to improve.
A transparent work environment helps employees be more creative, collaborate with each other, and perform better overall.
There are no two companies out there with exactly the same culture. Some are more value-oriented, while others are relying more on procedures. But the most successful ones know that values and procedures are intertwining.
As many examples show, the best way is having powerful procedures in place accompanied by strong values that reinforce them. This gives your employees and your customers the certitude that your company is always operating at the highest standards, while also caring about something more than profit.
Build a work environment where employees feel trusted and taken care of, so they will do the same for your customers.