The importance of Values in your business:
He recruited enough accountants to have a 5-a-side football team!
Many years ago, a MD of a print business recruited at least 5 different accountants / book-keepers to run his finance function.
These were sequential appointments for the same role. I said to the MD that the common factor in this failure was him and the way he recruited. As it can be for many business owners recruiting an accountant can be a challenge. It’s a technical role so assessing ability to do the job can be hard.
But when I questioned further, I found it wasn’t the technical ability that caused the repeated failures. It was the attitude of the new recruit. Or at least the mismatch in attitude between the MD and the accountant.
Which is why we have all been saying to ourselves for years – ‘recruit for attitude and train the skills’. Not so clear cut with highly technical roles but the advice still stands the test of time.
Which leads me to a short dump of my thoughts about Values. Yes, those short pithy words or statements you sometimes see on the walls of receptions or board rooms.
My thoughts on Values:
- Beware of values stuck up on walls or woolly words on websites that talk about values but don’t sound convincing or aren’t backed up by what the people in the business say and how they act;
- Values don’t need to be those 4-6 crafted words or statements. They need to reflect how the business thinks and acts. I love the core values from Saueda Industries in the US: “Yes, And,” “Explore More,” and “Give a Sh!t.”
- Working on and embedding values in a business is hard and takes time. It’s certainly not cheap in terms of time commitment. Many workshops, emotional conversations and hard thinking. But it pays dividends when it works;
- Values should drive who is ‘allowed’ to work in the business. That applies to prospective recruits and those already in the business. Growing a successful business that makes life easier and better for the people in the business is so much hard work when the wrong people are on the bus (thanks to Jim Collins for that clarity of that message);
- Having well-embedded values in the business makes it so much easier to decide what customers and suppliers the business should work with. We all have worked with customers or suppliers who just don’t fit with us;
- ‘Doing values’ isn’t a one-off exercise. To me it’s like training your mind and body to be fit – doing the right thing every day, and changing your ‘training plan’ to recognise new situations should be the approach;
- Being true and open about your business values will keep the right people for longer and also attract more of the right people who want to work with you. I love this excerpt from a job advert by Sauceda Industries again:
“We’re looking for someone who gives a shit about their work, gets annoyed with co-workers who don’t pull their weight, wants to level themselves up in a big way and cares about being somewhere long enough that people remember their name.”
I’m no management guru on values but my experience tells me that they can make a massive difference if done right. Also, they need time and effort to be done right. Finally, they need constant nurturing to keep alive.
I’d really welcome your thought on this topic. Correct me, teach me or agree with me. If you’re looking for more thoughts on best practices, I strongly encourage you to check out my Standard Operating Procedures blog:
As a brief PS, Sauceda Industries grew to be a £12million business and was acquired in 2021. Here is the link to it’s owner, Jay B Sauceda talk to John Warrillow: https://bit.ly/3smob2Q