This is Challenge #15 and shows up in Stage 3 at a time when a CEO needs all the help he/she can get in terms of helping employees understand what’s expected of them as the company grows beyond the control of the founder, the CEO.

Beliefs create filters that develop patterns that drive behavior. If you understand this simple sentence, a world of knowledge opens up. Beliefs and values are developed early and are influenced by people, environment and experiences. According to sociologist, Morris Massey, we are not born with values. He defined three periods during which values are developed.

  1. The Imprint Period: Up to age 7, we are like sponges, absorbing everything around us, especially the ideas and beliefs that come from our parents.
  2. The Modeling Period: Between the ages of 8 and 13, we copy our parents and others, and we try certain ideas and beliefs on to see how they feel.
  3. The Socialization Period: Between 13 and 21, we are largely influenced by our peers and outside influences. As we develop as individuals, we sometimes stray from earlier programming.

Values develop as we mature and help determine who we are as individuals. As the owner of a small business, values help him/her make decisions about how they are going to behave, about who they will hire, and how that business owner will treat their customers and employees.

Without a defining set of values that each and every person buys into, behaviors go undefined, which leads to frustration and confusion and makes delegating even more challenging. The business owner must define what values they believe are critical to the success of the company and share those values with every person they hire.

When you’re small, the values come from the CEO, the founder. As the company grows, values evolve and mature based on a collaborative work environment, shaped by the people hired. In a Stage 3 organization, the CEO plays a strong role in capturing and defining those shared values.

Core values capture the unique personality of each company. It’s critical that CEOs start by talking to their employees and let them know how the CEO defines the values and what they mean. This isn’t a one-time conversation. A business owner should use every chance they get to talk about these values.

A company’s core values help to define how people will and won’t behave in an organization. They need to represent how the business owner wants people to act. Help your CEO to find out if their employees can site incidents where the values showed up during difficult situations. Help your CEO show everyone why the values are so important in defining how the business will operate.

Business owners sometimes assume that everyone in their organization operates from the same set of values, whether stated or unstated. This common assumption can lead to a lot of frustration and disappointment.

The organization’s values must be identified and clearly articulated, so that employees have a baseline reference point for their behavior. A company’s values fuel the culture of an organization, and it’s important that everyone understands, embraces and believes in what the CEO and the company stand for.

When we communicate with a language that everyone understands, we are much more successful in getting results. If you’ve ever tried to explain the last movie of a trilogy, you’ll get heads nodding from the people who saw the first two movies and blank stares from the people who didn’t. That’s because the people who saw the first two movies have a shared language. It may be the names of the characters, or where the movie took place or the action in a particular scene, but they are connecting with you because of a shared language.

Values create that language and help direct behaviors at the same time.

The positive outcomes that derive from a values-based company culture include:

Better decisions: When employees understand the company’s values, they are better able to approach decisions by asking, “Is this decision in alignment with our company values? Which decision best represents us?”

Better behaviors: When you define your values, you also define what behaviors you want and what behaviors you don’t want.

Better performance: When employees are clear about how they need to behave, they can perform better.

Improved culture: The outcome of the above all lead to a culture where employees are focused on doing the work that needs to be done in an atmosphere of support and collaboration.

Your success. My passion.

Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!