When you look at successful companies like Whole Foods® and Starbucks™, what sets them apart? It’s their culture, which has been shaped by their values. Their values are embedded throughout the organization, giving their employees a sense of higher purpose and belonging to a company they can believe in.
Overall employee engagement in any organization is driven by a higher purpose based on core values. The highest performing companies ensure those core values are baked into their identity. By taking the following steps, you too can shape an exceptional, values based performance culture:
1. Define core values with stakeholders
2. Lead by example
3. Reward desired behaviours
4. Measure regularly
To break these down, if you look at Whole Foods:
1. Define core values with stakeholders: There’s a feeling of shared purpose throughout the organization and a real sense that all stakeholders work by a defined and mutually-agreed upon set of core values;
2. Lead by example:Their leaders from the top down and at all levels work to exemplify those high standards and values;
3. Reward desired behaviours: There’s a high level of recognition and reward that’s baked into their performance management and the whole psyche of the organization;
4. Measure regularly: They have regular accountability, where every team member can measure another team’s performance indicators such as sales, profits and customer satisfaction, fostering healthy competition and pride in work. This ensures team and individual commitment to business objectives, values and performance.
Corporate values and culture are not only internal; they also connect with and influence external customers. That is when your culture becomes a manifestation of your external brand. Your customer-facing employees represent how you go to market, influence the buying decisions being made and the ultimate long term loyalty of customers.
The culture that customer-facing employees embody and represent can be even more valuable than your product’s features and benefits. How? If you look at Starbucks, devotees feel very good about paying $5 for a cup of coffee they could get next door for $1.50. They aren’t paying a premium for coffee, they’re paying for the experience. And that experience is an embodiment of the corporation’s core values. It comes from the very way Starbucks engages their employees. They treat them well; they train them well; they pay them well; they support them and provide a very pleasant and engaging culture in which to work. Employees are happy to be there and go that extra mile. Customers can see and feel that and want to spend time in that culture, even if it’s just for the amount of time it takes to order a latte.
How can you ensure that your core values will shape an exceptional performance culture? The Value Chain:
1. Talent: You need strong leadership at all levels.
2. Game PlanYour business strategy should be based on accurate, honest data and assumptions – the “brutal facts” about where you are today as an organization.
3. Effort: You need to work at building a highly engaging culture based on core values that have meaning to all stakeholders.
When you have an engaged culture of high performing employees, business results across the board on metrics like customer satisfaction, safety, productivity and profitability all benefit. The Gallup Q12 Survey, 2012, reported that companies in the top quartile of engagement experienced an average of 37% less absenteeism and 21% higher productivity. When people feel aligned with a value system in their work culture, they will over perform.
There are tools available to support your journey to high performance and engagement, and creating an environment where employees want to thrive and prosper. Employee recognition platforms provide peer-to-peer recognition relative to your values and aligned with the behaviours that support those values. Management and the executive level can also chime in and support the recognition and reward it. These platforms can give you data driven information to show where you are on a company level, team level and individual level.
The tools are available to help you get your strategy right, ensure that people are core to your strategy, help you clarify your values, build in your metrics to gauge success and recognize the behaviours that are taking you in the right direction – all the while allowing you to get the analytics to actually see your progress and make data driven changes. Humans have the desire to live in a values congruent environment, and if you provide that for them you’re going to win their loyalty, shape an exceptional performance culture and lead in your industry.
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