The Power of Written Values

Everyone has values that they hold sacred to running a moral and ethical business. Why? They can be motivated by deep personal conviction. Others may look at values as a best business practice. Either way, if you put them in writing and integrate them into your company culture, they will produce tremendous results.

December 31, 2005

Doug Dwyer
Contributing Editor

Everyone has values that they hold sacred to running a moral and ethical business. Why? They can be motivated by deep personal conviction. Others may

look at values as a best business practice. Either way, if you put them in writing and integrate them into your company culture, they will produce tremendous results. Values help to establish a consistent message to your team and thus, your customers. This leads to building a long-lasting, positive reputation for your company.

What are some of the other benefits? It simplifies your own decision-making process, guides your staff on how to make good decisions, and creates something stable that employees can count on in an ever-changing business environment.

For example, our company code of values includes the statement: "We believe success is the result of clear, cooperative thinking." People with negative attitudes can kill momentum in a company. By having this written into our code of values and reviewing them with the team often, we educate the staff and set the expectation that it will take a positive attitude to succeed. What I have found surprising is that some carpenters have never actually heard that before!

We once had two team members confront a new hire after a couple of weeks on the job. They wanted to make sure their peer understood that we believe in a positive attitude, and that this person's negative attitude was hurting the team. When we can build a culture that starts to manage itself, it makes everyone's job easier. As the leaders, we can't do it all — it takes a team.

Too many business owners leave the values of their companies to chance or run them according to the latest fad of the day. It is very difficult to build great momentum if we change too often. My decision making is greatly simplified because there are only so many choices I can make to be congruent with my company's code of values.

After Enron and WorldCom, the NASDAQ market requires all companies listed with them to have a published code of ethics. That is a good start, but a piece of paper with words on it doesn't create integrity and a great company culture.

We must make our values a living, breathing philosophy in our companies. The biggest challenge: We must do our best to lead by example. Then, when we fail in one area, we must take responsibility even in front of our team. Notice, I said "when," not "if." As human beings, we are going to make mistakes. How we handle them dictates the degree of success and loyalty we will have from our team.

American citizens' outlook on life and business has shifted. People today want to be associated with a place of purpose, not just get a paycheck.

Franchise Recruiters, a North American executive search firm, releases an annual business forecast and trend analysis based on a survey of franchise executives. In his 2005 report, Jerry Wilkerson, president of Franchise Recruiters, shared a comment from one of the survey respondents, who said: "I recently heard business authors Ken Blanchard and Rick Warren give a presentation. It took Blanchard twenty years to sell 10 million copies of "The One Minute Manager"... It took Warren 20 months to sell 20 million copies of "The Purpose Driven Life."

Blanchard stops at showing managers what to do; whereas, Warren shows people why they should be doing it and from where they should be doing it.

This is why your values must be put in writing and you must have a system to integrate them continually into your company culture. If you haven't done this, it is worth the investment.

If you would like to see our company code of values, visit our Web site at www.dreammaker-remodel.com, click on "About DreamMaker," then click on "Values." It may serve as a sample for you to put your own code of values into writing.


Author Information
Doug Dwyer is president and chief stewarding officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide, one of the nation's largest remodeling franchises. He can be reached at doug.dwyer@dwyergroup.com.


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