One of the biggest groans I hear from business leaders is that nobody follows the company values, or that when asked, employees don’t even know the mission statement.
Is this surprising to me? – Not at all.
I work alongside businesses on a daily basis helping them to establish a unique company culture, and a really big part of this is understanding their purpose and core values.
When any business starts the mission statement is the first written information that declares why the company exists. But the more I look around at these mission statements, the more I see transparent, jargon-filled paragraphs that hold no meaning.
Statements such as – “Increasing leads”… bleurgh… “Optimising sales conversions”…yawn.
It is all total rubbish, and does not for one instance explain to me, why your business exists?
Beyond putting money in your bank account, what’s your purpose?
So the first thing I want you to really think about is why are you in business?
In today’s world, we are incredibly attuned to wanting to do things with purpose. The rise of veganism and eco-friendly products isn’t a fad, it is because we have screwed up the environment so badly as a species we are finally starting to make conscious changes that aren’t driven by money.
For many businesses, this conscious shift is a tough one. And you can tell. They don’t know where to position themselves on the market, they continue to struggle with employee retention and focus so hard on the competition they are not far off from looking like a duplicate.
This all boils down to the fact they have lost understanding of why they exist, which makes their mission obsolete and their values dormant. Want to know why your clients and your employees don’t give a t*ss about your company values?
Because it holds no real purpose
If your purpose doesn’t go beyond business, you may as well be a machine.
But people don’t want to work for a machine, they want to work for something that gives them a deeper reason to get up and go to work every day. They want to know that the work they are doing doesn’t just have an impact on the bottom line, but it has a larger impact on society, the environment or the community they live in.
What is your business doing for the greater good?
Leaders I speak with can often get stuck in the mud when I ask this deep question because they think that to have a wider impact you need to be a charity, not-for-profit, or an environmental product.
The truth is you don’t, you can be selling telecoms, marketing or insurance. It doesn’t matter what your business sells, every company can establish a bigger purpose.
Because you are not ‘living’ it
The biggest downfall I see in company culture is when the values and the mission are not lived in the day-to-day runnings of the business. It is displayed on a great big sign on the wall, but it is not put into practice.
Not living by your values will create a number of negative culture effects in your company. Not only will it cause conflict when employees act on different values, but it also means that nobody is aware of what is expected of them – leading to frustration, distrust and eventually an exit.
A company I personally feel lives their values inspirationally is the clothing company Patagonia.
Established in the 1960’s to provide the best clothing and equipment for outdoor sports, their founder Yvon Chouinard is a passionate campaigner for fighting against global warming and the damage we are doing to the environment.
The company is so passionate about their mission “to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”, that they embed their strong environmental values into every element of the business.
Not only do they source sustainable and ethical resources for their clothing, but they provide all employees time to go and enjoy outdoor sports, take part in any environmental protests and even pay their bail should they get arrested for any of their environmental acts.
As both a customer and client, it is obvious to anyone who comes in touch with the brand of exactly what the Patagonia mission is.
Your values and mission statement are the guiding lines for all of your business practices, processes and culture. How are you living your values right now?
Because your people aren’t introduced to them
Onboarding plays a crucial role in ensuring your team understands the values and why they exist.
Unfortunately, onboarding is far too often just a handbook that never gets read. Yet, when you onboard an employee into the business with an education in the values, and an introduction to the company and its culture you can expect to see them excel.
Embedding a passion early on about the values and the mission of the company ensures that each employee is ‘living it’ in their work daily. When a question comes in that perhaps they can’t answer, they can look to the values and the mission about what would be the best outcome and how best to respond.
When leaders are not in the business every day, it falls to the team to drive the mission and follow the core values. If that isn’t happening everything can feel disjointed within the company culture.
In a world where we are all increasingly conscious of our actions, it is time to drop the BS of your company mission and have a reality check about what you are truly contributing.
Cover image: Shutterstock
This article first appeared on Liberty Mind blog on 5 July 2020.
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