Do some research about how to grow as a company and organization, and you’re bound to come across more than a few articles on culture and company core values – probably pretty quickly! Not only is company culture a buzzy phrase these days, it also does matter, and in a pretty big way. Things like company values, mission statement, core pillars and culture are all part of the essence that makes up the soul of your organization.
You might notice that many companies use big, amorphous words like “Integrity” and “Caring” as their core values. These words can be meaningful, but they’re powerless without the force of people and their actions behind them. In reality, core values are living, breathing things that inform others of the way a company operates, how its people work, how sales are made and much more. They aren’t just words to put up on the wall!
“Having clearly defined, authentic core values at your organization provides your team – especially your sales team – a focal point for all their efforts,” says Melinda Schmitz, Executive Vice President & Senior Consultant at SageAge Strategies. “Core values can just be words on the wall, or they can be the driving force behind your team’s success.”
If you stopped any one of your employees and asked them to list out your company’s core values, would they be able to? If not, you have some room for improvement! Let’s start by considering what a core value really is.
What are core values, anyway?
At their most fundamental, core values are action statements that communicate the attributes and values a company’s leadership believes will create success. They should not be vague, or easily misinterpreted. Instead, they should be clear, specific and, this is key, measurable.
Getting to your core values starts with identifying the characteristic or attribute you want your company to support. Then, the core value is determined from that starting point.
For example, if a company believes that customer empathy is a key to driving sales success, then that company’s core values would emphasize that thoughtful, empathetic team members are of the highest value to the company.
Sharing Your Core Values with Your Team
Core values are meaningless if you’re the only one who knows them. As mentioned, they should influence how your team members, especially those who care for your residents, operate. Here are some ways to make sure your core values are clearly communicated at your organization.
Review them at the start of every major meeting or gathering of team members. Don’t just read them off – make an emotional connection by tying your core values to something real and tangible that your team experiences every day.
Make them a key part of new employee training and onboarding. They should take up a large part of the entire onboarding process.
Incentivize your employees to remember and understand them by publicly pointing out when a team member engages in a behavior that truly personifies your core values.
Live them! As a leader, you are the first line of defense. You have a responsibility to your team to be a living example of what your company’s core values look like in practice.
Aligning Your Core Values with Sales to Drive Performance
If you follow the two steps outlined above to define your core values and communicate them clearly with your team (including your sales professionals), you are well on your way to aligning your entire team and using your core values to truly drive performance.
Sales, though, can often have its own culture, and exist in its own world. They have a very specific job to do, and it’s no secret that integrating sales departments into larger teams can be difficult.
The key, then, is to show your sales team how they can accomplish their sales goals and drive performance by living your core values. Let’s go back to the empathy example. If you choose the importance of empathy as a core value, you can align your sales efforts with this attribute by showing your sales team that when they empathize with families, they are more likely to close a sale.
You can also reverse engineer your core values to ensure they tie into the culture your sales team already lives by, if you lead with that culture. Say you’ve built a team of high-performing sales professionals who view their ability to persevere as a key to their success. If you appreciate that culture and find it’s working well for your team, incorporate that into your core values.
If, on the other hand, you find your sales team’s culture doesn’t reflect the core values you want the company to operate by, it’s time to ask why. Is it due to poor hiring practices? Is there a leadership problem – that is, do your sales team leaders buy into your core values, or do they disregard them? Are your core values in step with the reality of your sales process, or are they misguided?
Any one or several of those questions may illuminate why your organization and your sales team are disjointed, but by deliberately thinking through what your core values are, thoughtfully communicating them and demonstrating why they work, you can achieve the unity you seek!