As a business owner you make decisions every day about the right thing to do. The fact is that every person in the company does the same thing.
What is being used as a point of reference for these decisions? And is there a common point of reference?
It's the company's mission and core values. Without them, your company is actually a collection of companies all sort of doing the same thing but not providing the same experience.
Any company, to truly be all it can be, needs to stop and get clear about The Point. What are we about (mission)? What do we use to decide what the right thing to do is in a given situation (mission and values)?
As the leader you are The One, the person who must provide your employees with direction. Let's look at how this might be done.
Your company exists because of your drive, your vision and your desire to bring life to an enterprise that is unique. Given that presumption, the logical conclusion is that your idea of mission and values is definitely the most important in the process of discovering the company's mission and values.
|The input of your employees is very important. Notice I said input. The request for input needs to stress the desire for input and that you will have the final word.|
I'm distinguishing between the mission and values of you as a person and those of your company because the respective sets of mission and values, while both starting with the same individual, will necessarily be different. A company is not a person, and vice versa. Often the owner of a small business does not make this distinction and consequently runs the business without the objectivity needed for intelligent decision making. A cunning client can take advantage of that in a heartbeat!
What is the role of your employees in formulating the company's mission and values? If the company was conceived and started by you, is employee input even needed?
The input of your employees is very important. Notice I said input. Their input is very important, and a savvy owner will ask for it. The request needs to stress the desire for input and that you will have the final word on what the company is about.
You might worry that your employees will feel left out or believe they do not having an appropriate amount of influence for a company where they spend so much of their lives. But if you handle the process well, asking for their input will not produce that resentment.
To get employee input, many leaders use a team-building event, usually over a day or so, that contemplates questions like these:
- What are we really good at?
- What are we not so good at?
- How can we get better at those things?
- How is our company unique?
- What is The Point of the company?
- What would it look like if we were as successful as we really want to be?
- When faced with a tough decision what are our points of reference?
And so on. The idea is to discuss, share perspectives and gather information. As an important result, you get the input and employees feel connected to one another and the company.
I believe that such an event is more successful if you are not running it. The owner is a powerful person in the company's world and can unwittingly stifle needed conversation. Better results are achieved by using a facilitator to plan and run the meeting.
In this process, you promise your employees several things. After you use their input to help shape the mission and values, you will report back to the employees by a certain date. Their input will then be used to refine the draft. Once done, the mission and values are from that point forward brought to life as part of every company meeting.
I cannot stress how good everyone feels when the process is handled as I described it. Never done it? Give it a try and get the input you need so you can provide your employees the direction they want.
|Paul Winans, CR, works with Remodelers Advantage, the premier peer group and consulting company serving the industry. He is a founder of Winans Construction, which he and his wife, Nina, sold in 2007. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|