Several years ago, when I was a full-time church-based youth worker, I attended a conference and one of the keynote speakers was a Forensic pathologist. If you’ve ever watched Bones or CSI you’ll have some idea of what one does. She was one of the team who go to a crime scene and look for clues – fingerprints, hair or any trace evidence that might have been left behind that will tell the police what actually happened there.
Her core point was this: every contact leaves a trace and she challenged us to think about how every contact we had with young people left a trace on their lives and to consider the impact of our work with them.
But what has that got to do with what we do? It’s simple – every contact you have with your network, clients, team, prospects and suppliers leaves a trace. It tells them something about you, the values you have and how you are bringing them to life. It’s evidence for or against you.
And so my question to you is this: are your business values just buzz words or are they so embedded deep within the life of your business they’ve become part of the soul of your organization?
If you want to gain that vital buy-in from prospective employees or clients, then you have to be living and breathing your values, not just paying lip-service to them. They have to be meaningful and be communicated within and without your business.
There are so many ways of doing this, but one simple, three-step strategy that you can use to ensure that the traces you leave stand you, and your business, in good stead.
One: Define them
If you’ve looked at our website in depth, you’ll have come across our values. We spent a long time crafting the exact words we wanted to use but you’ll notice that we’ve utilized the power of 1 x 4:
One word, one sentence, one paragraph, one image.
When settling on a core value, it’s important to define what you mean by that word. And that’s what this structure does. Take a look here and see what we mean. Hopefully that will give you a handle on how you might want to communicate your values to all.
Two: Communicate them
Once you’ve defined your values, communicate them.
Put them on a poster or a mural on the office wall. Get a graphic designer to design a card with them on to send to each team member, supplier and client. Emblazon them on your website. Talk about them in your weekly team meetings. Ensure that everyone knows what they are and what traces you expect them to be leaving in all of their contacts (which includes each other!).
Three: Live them
So, you’ve defined your values and your team know what it is your organization stands for. Excellent. But the hardest part is working on creating a culture that means that these values are lived out – both in the office and in public. Values not only have to have meaning, but they have to be actionable, so what behaviours will you and your team agree on that bring these values to life and create the type of contacts that leave only positive traces.
Here’s an example: Although we’re a team of three, we’re all working remotely. Yet one of our values is Relationships so we’ve chosen a simple yet effective strategy for maintaining and building relationships within the team: Friday afternoon beer ‘o’clock. At 4pm each Friday we have a team Google meet that consists of a 15-min recap and then 45 mins of hanging out together with a beer. And that unity then rubs off on those we meet. What could you implement to bring your values to life?
So, there you go. If you need any further support or have any questions on how to define, communicate or live out your values please do not hesitate to get in touch.