When businesses are formed, they immediately begin to reflect the values of the owner or leader. We recruit people who seem to fit with us, we attract customers who like our values, and the business grows. Usually these ‘values’ are not explicit or written down, but in a small team everyone pretty much knows what the boss wants and how they want things done.
As businesses grow, things begin to change. Leaders of growing businesses have less time to spend with each member of a growing team. Leaders are busy, need to recruit new people, work with new customers, and the values gradually become a bit less clear. Not in the head of the leader of course, but everywhere else.
Why does this happen? Well, it’s about relationships; in a business of 4 people, everyone knows everyone else and there are only 6 one-to-one relationships within the team. It’s easy to be aware of what’s going on in each of these and the leader is personally involved in half of them, and just one step away from the others.
By contrast when a business has 100 people, each knowing everyone else, there are 4950 one-to-one relationships going on – and the leader is involved in just 99. So that’s just 2% of the working relationships that involve the leader.
So, what values will people bring to work? We’ll bring our own of course, which may or may not be a good fit with those of the business. Hence the need to be clear and explicit about the values of the business. They become the heartbeat of the team, a reference point for every decision, and a wonderful tool for providing feedback to people (‘I saw what you did there; spot on, and a great example of our Values around service – thanks’.)
So somewhere on your growth path you will find it really helpful to think through your business values. Engage your team in the discussion, get their views as well (they’ll probably have a different perspective to yours, which is really helpful) and as a leader get personally involved.
Used effectively, your business values will be a powerful tool for recruitment, giving feedback and managing performance, and for guiding every decision that you and your team make.
If you’d like to talk about getting this working better for you please give me a call on 01672 512001
One of the values which comes up sometimes in business is caring – caring for customers, and caring for each other in the team. Looking at the broader picture, 1 in 9 people (in Wiltshire, based on the 2011 census) is involved in caring for a family member at home. Some of those people will of course be working as well. For more guidance on support for carers and how businesses can support employees with caring responsibilities, see www.workingforcarers.co.uk . There are contact details on the website.