Values are the first pillar of building an elite business organization. “Best place to work” cultures with exceptional results, start with values. This is not an easy path but can lead to long-lasting excellence in every aspect of a company’s performance. Let me tell you a story about the impact of values.
An entrepreneurial friend wanted to start a new business. Interestingly, he wanted to live internationally as well. So, he moved to a new country and began the steps of starting a business. The “Best place to work” environment was a part of what he wanted to create so he began by formulating a list of 10 core values that resonated with him but also included key values that would be competitively important.
He developed interactive training that further defined his values. When the time came to hire his first employee, he requested the candidates review the 10 values and write a brief statement as to which 3 values most resonated. This became the starting point of the face-to-face interviews moving forward. Every subsequent hire has started with the same question, and each hire has gone through interactive training on values.
The company is very successful with sales doubling each year. We did an employee satisfaction survey after reaching 10 employees and found the level of highly satisfied at greater than 90% (typically a near perfect index score is 75%). As I challenged this result with personal interviews of each employee, I was struck by a couple of employees who stated (paraphrased) “when I begin my journey to work each day, a smile breaks out on my face.” They love coming to work and they love the people at work. Their one concern was that recently the weekly values discussion activity had gotten canceled due to the rise in new customer orders. “We must find a way to have our values activity even when we are very busy. It’s the best part of my week.”
The company is now at 30 employees and rising fast. Employees are loyal and remain highly engaged. Values continue to be emphasized weekly including a discussion around what decisions have been impacted by living out the values. I can tell you that occasionally customers are turned away based mainly on living the values. It truly is a “best place to work” culture.
Striving for the best culture is not for everyone but those that do it will reap long-lasting rewards.