Aside from the required elements that are essential to running a successful business — having a defined goal and realistic expectations, retaining talented staff, a tailored strategy to achieve steady growth — there remains a key component and basis for the longevity of any successful business: the company’s core values. Establishing a set of core values effectively serves as a foundation on which your company stands, guiding how your organization and its team members perform.
Today more the ever, company identity matters, not just to employees, but also prospective clients, board members, media and all stakeholders who want to know why they should engage with your company. An organization that fails to accurately assess what it stands for is operating at a disadvantage. Neglecting to clearly define and articulate such basic principles and concepts may have an unfortunate impact on both internal and external audiences.
A higher, inspired approach — not just profit
Creating a set of core values will help anchor every aspect of a business by following shared beliefs and commitments. These statements become the fabric that guides employee behavior, company decisions and the expectations that a company places on itself.
Of course, detractors believe that setting core values may potentially prove restrictive, but this is a literal interpretation. These aren’t meant to dictate to the company and its staff, but rather to help them discover and express the fundamental elements that are found within every company and differentiate how the company does business. The mere fact that a company has taken the time to carefully think through, discuss and develop its values is a pivotal step in a company’s credibility — for its leadership and throughout the organization as a whole. There is also another reason: Research indicates that successful companies are those with a strong culture, which starts with identifying its values.
Translation to performance
The next step is translating core value into performance. On paper alone, the values don’t mean much. They must come to life through actions across all facets of an organization, including hiring decisions, customer experience, stakeholder engagement and community involvement — the more areas the better, and with consistency.
At Gibraltar Business Capital, we seek to “inspire growth.” This is a concept that we have arrived at through much discussion, research and contemplation for what it is we want, intend and hope that our company will be, not just presently, but also as we evolve over the years. We are constantly striving to follow our values, and seeking ways to improve how these values are reflected in all aspects of our business.
With our values in place we look to maintain a new “spirit” of business, encourage innovation, ensure a healthy and dynamic environment, create added value for all stakeholders and be confident that with these aspects in place prosperity will follow.
Don’t forget to communicate
Here, communication plays a critical role in ensuring an organization’s entire team is on board. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, using simple tools and activities that reinforce core values, so they become second nature to all involved.
For example, a good starting point is a written document that articulates your organization’s core values – something that every employee receives (existing and new). This can be complemented by visual tools interpreting the core values, such as a visual representation depicting how all staff and stakeholders work together towards a common goal, or creating a visual aid (i.e., infographic or illustration) to represent each tenet, reminding staff and external audiences what the organizations stands for.
You can also challenge staff by asking them twice a year to articulate how they function and embody the core values in their work or in their private life. Further, core value messages should be on full display in any employee materials recapping individual and collective initiatives, including employee awards, classes or workshops on offer, charitable endeavors and community service.
Activities can be incorporated, such as hosting a guest speaker on topics unrelated to your business, but associated with your core values and culture. Encouraging philanthropy and participation in events that support health related causes, or initiatives that foster work-life balance are also very beneficial. The key is that the activities are both top-down and bottom-up with regard to ideation and implementation.
Of course, there are countless other modes of communication and activities that can be introduced, tailored to your organization and approach. There is value in investing the time and resources to develop a solid foundation for your business, one that includes all key guiding principles that truly reflect your organization’s purpose and values. The results are not immediate, but the core values you develop, implement and by which you operate can create a vibrant company culture whose dividends will pay off for the long term.
By Scott Winicour, Founder and President of Gibraltar Business Capital