Put Your Values Into ActionFebruary 2, 2016
by Mark David
Good companies list their Core Values, while great companies live them.
Lots of companies these days post their Core Values on a poster or plaque in their entryway. Since I’m on the road a lot, I get to see quite a few of these lists, and I am always impressed by the care and thought that obviously went into them.
One thing I’ve learned along the way, however, is this: “Having” a set of Core Values on the wall means next to nothing; it’s living them that leads to great brands and enduring companies.
Think of it this way: For the great companies, a Core Value is not a “thing,” it’s a “way.” Everyone knows, for example, that legendary customer service is a Core Value at the Nordstrom Company. For Nordstrom employees, service is not just a chart, or a standard, or a specification—it’s a way of doing, being and working. It’s a state of mind, a commitment, an expression of pride, a spirit. And you don’t just read about it on some plaque on the wall when you walk in their door, you actually feel it, appreciate it and remember it.
This, of course, is one of the reasons so many people come back to companies like Nordstrom again and again. It’s not just their convenient locations or their quality clothing that attracts people, it’s also their values in action.
Remember: your Core Values are choices you and your company make about how you will treat your customers and your co-workers on the road to achieving your company Mission and your Vision. In good times or bad, your unique set of Values should unify and strengthen your team. They should distinguish the ethics, style, purpose and meaning of your work from your competitors. They should also define your unique culture and brand, and guide your every decision and action.
So, if your company or work unit has a plaque on the wall with your Core Values on it, be sure to remind yourselves now and then that those Values are what you stand for. They are important to you. If you’re not going to live by them every day, you might as well tear that plaque off the wall.