There are numerous obstacles that we encounter along the trail of life. Many are of our own making and some are not. What can we do to smooth out the path and avoid the monsters that jump out of the bushes to bite us? One answer involves a concept that I’ve only recently begun to understand at a deeper level and come to embrace. The concept is that of core values.
In the past I probably would have quit reading by this point and moved on to something that seemed more tangible to me at the time. After all “core values” sounds a bit esoteric and maybe even a bit “psycho-babblish” – not something a macho entrepreneur would be interested in. But after studying and witnessing the effects of core values, I’ve become a believer.
More than a year ago our collection of companies made a conscious decision to change our culture. A Core Values Team was formed and the group did amazing work. They spent countless hours brainstorming and debating the basic values they thought we should epitomize. The result was five core values including Integrity, Commitment, Team Member Fulfillment, Customer Fulfillment and Community Impact. A second team was formed called Building Internal Communities, and worked in tandem with the Core Values Team to roll out the core values to team members across all the companies with locations scattered across the country. Tremendous effort has been undertaken to keep the core values at the forefront and live them accordingly. And it seems to be working in an impressive fashion.
Here’s where it gets interesting. We determined early on that we wanted to make certain that everyone on the team was in perfect alignment with the core values; AND everyone with whom we work outside the organization is also aligned with these beliefs as well. It has become obvious over the past several months that some of our team members don’t completely buy into the core values and they have left (or in some cases, were asked to leave). But what’s even more fascinating is the fact that we can see very clearly that certain vendor and client relationships aren’t necessarily aligned either. In the past we’ve butted heads with these relationships or felt like we weren’t on the same page with them. Through understanding our core values we now have a means of assessing our external relationships to see how well we are in alignment.
The upshot of this process is that we are severing some of the ties that we have with external parties. Harkening back to my opening salvo – why live with the obstacles that stand in our way? This doesn’t mean that the external parties with whom we have been struggling are bad or dishonest. It simply means that we may not share the same values which can cause friction and anxiety. This can be eliminated by building relationships with those external parties where we are in perfect alignment. Gone are the hard feelings and the unrealistic expectations. No longer do we waste time hashing and re-hashing unpleasant interactions with other parties.
Establishing a strong set of core values helps team members become aligned. But of equal importance, working with external parties that share the same values helps make our lives richer and happier.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.