Dig into almost any company’s website, and odds are good you’ll find a section on the firm’s mission and core values. This is especially the case with companies that believe strongly in their guiding principles and use these to make key business decisions, like Texas-based The Container Store and Austin-born Whole Foods Market.
We’re big believers in core values at MyITpros. (You can find a list of ours here.) These principles steer us in all of our important decisions, from the people we hire to the companies we do business with. I’ll tell you a little bit more about how that works, but first, I want to encourage you to establish a set of core values for your own business if you haven’t already. This is going to be the first post in a series on the topic in which we’ll demonstrate the impact of core values from our experience and provide you with a blueprint for discovery and documentation at your company.
I’d like to start with a look at three ways that having a set of clearly articulated core values has benefited us at MyITpros, and how this can benefit you too.
Reason #1: They provide a “north star” for business direction
Core values are your true “north star” – that fixed point that stays constant, reminding you of where you are in the quest to meet your business goals and helping you keep moving in the right direction. Every day, I look to MyITpros’ core values to keep us on the right track and remind us why we’re in business and what we’re striving to achieve, which is invaluable when making decisions. Taking this approach is pretty simple: You just ask yourself, “Would doing this reflect our core values?” If the answer is yes, you can confidently decide to move forward, and if it’s no, you can explore different avenues without feeling the need to second-guess yourself. This can save a lot of time and angst!
Chances are you do this all the time without even being aware of it. Maybe you say no to something because it doesn’t feel right, and approve something else because it does. Identifying your core values and putting them in writing makes that evaluation process easier and more predictable, as well as reducing the likelihood that you’ll slip up and make a choice that creates problems for your business later. In a future blog post, we’ll talk about how to identify and document your business’ core values.
Reason #2: They are a shortcut for identifying good hires
How do you know if a prospective employee is going to be a good fit for your company? Gain an edge by checking resumes and references in the context of your core values.
To use an example from our experience, one of our core values at MyITpros is “Learn and improve.” Basically, that means we expect every employee to be engaged in an ongoing learning experience that will help them become better at what they do. We even have a learning plan that outlines the various certifications, classes or other activities that will move each employee further down the path to improvement.
With the “Learn and improve” tenet in mind, we look at resumes to find people who have demonstrated an interest in improving themselves professionally, such as those who went back to school later in life to earn an advanced degree, took night classes at the local community college to improve their skill sets, or successfully pursued industry certification. When we spot those elements on a resume, we
know we’ve found someone whose approach to work is in line with our thinking. And when you have your core values displayed on your website, you’re more likely to attract the right kind of job candidates.
Reason #3: They are the foundation for forming good client relationships
In the professional services business, all companies find out sooner or later that not every client is going to be a good fit. This business is all about working closely with organizations to help them achieve their goals, and if you don’t click with a particular company, the results can be potentially disastrous for both parties. Fortunately, if you have your core values in place, you can anticipate this disconnect.
We learned this lesson recently at MyITpros when we signed up a seemingly promising new client. The COO, our main point of contact, shared our thinking on many points, and it looked like we would really be of service in terms of helping the company meet its goals, as well as strengthening our own revenue. Unfortunately, when the CEO became involved, things went downhill after it became apparent that the COO did not communicate some key things to him. The CEO behaved disrespectfully – bordering on abusively – and storm clouds quickly rolled in over what initially seemed like a golden opportunity.
My first thought was that this behavior didn’t align with our core value of “Do the right thing.” Before long, we decided that although working with the client was attractive from a financial perspective, we simply couldn’t do business with someone whose behavior was so at odds with our principles. We resigned the account the next day. The fact that our core values are so central and visible in our business allowed us to make that decision so quickly, minimizing the negative impact to both parties.
I hope the examples I’ve shared here have helped give you an idea of how core values can inspire you to make good business choices, and I’m looking forward to exploring the topic further in future posts. In the meantime, as always, contact me anytime to talk about this or any other business endeavor.
Bill has worked at MyITpros for over 10 years, spending over 5 of those years in management. He is passionate about good customer service, discussing business values and of course- all things tech related! Check out more about MyITpros' services here!