Stop trying so hard to please your customers. You will never please them all. It’s a fact I’m sure you already know. So, why spend so much effect across all your functions trying to be everything to everyone. In doing so, you fail to be anything to anyone.
It’s the perfect time, right now, to reset your business culture. We are on the brink of major advancements in artificial intelligence coming into the workplace. Automation is changing what we do and how we do it. We are able to collect, track and analyse data on everything from business applications to our bodily functions. Instead of investigating the wonderful opportunities these developments are going to bring, most companies are on the defense. Digging their heels in, with a refusal to change that is on par with a toddler tantrum.
If you find that harsh, then you are likely to be managing one of those businesses that needs to take a break from being stubborn and start reinventing itself from its core.
Take a look at what’s at the soul of your organisation. Your values. These define you and how everyone interacts with you. At this point, clients tell me that they have values somewhere but no-one knows what they are. They get used for presentations and annual reports. That doesn’t work. That’s like saying you don’t know your name or the brand of your car.
Rebuilding your business has to start from the inside out. If you don’t know who you are, how are customers meant to? How you introduce yourself as an organisation, your products and services centres around this critical concept. Without values, you are no different to any of your competitors, especially those who lack values, too.
Identifying your values for the first time is like experiencing an awakening! Suddenly, there’s clarity on your reasoning, your motivation and your behaviour. As a leader and business owner this is the beauty of it all. Values are unapologetic and strong because, by their nature, they are about how you strive to be great at what you do. As long as you stay authentic to your values, that is. The minute you deviate away from them is when that power and momentum start a very slippery slope down.
So, the challenge isn’t only to establish your values, but also to realign every aspect of how you manage yourself and your business to make sure you stick to your own blueprint. Saying that, isn’t that why you wanted to lead your business, your way, anyway? This is where the magic happens.
Three steps to realign your business:
- Use your values to build the right kind of team. Once you know what you stand for, it’s up to others to choose whether they want part of your business or not. Ensure everyone inside the company and anyone in the hiring process understand your definitions and what it means to how you do business. Include value surveys as part of the assessment and performance review process. Only hire and develop those who share your values with equal passion. Your people are your business. In the same way that you wouldn’t accept a stranger come into your home and disrespect you, you can refuse to have disrespecting strangers in your business.
- Give the right team the scope to recreate how they work. This is about processes and procedures. If your trust is one of your values, then ditch the antiquated approval processes, give your teams freedom to work from home when they need to and allow them to self-manage. When you have the right people, your shared values will gain a life of their own and go from strength to strength. When this happens, your efficiency and productivity sky rocket.
- Make how your work the expression of your business. Shout it loud and proud. Every facet that represents your business externally needs to be authentic. Whatever industry or type of work you are in, you have external touchpoints. Make them represent you and ditch anything that doesn’t. This will do wonders. You will only attract those who want to work with you. Imagine that! When potential customers at research stage understand exactly who you are and how you do business, they will either convert or not bother contacting you at all. In this wonderful age of the internet, you can filter out time-wasters by ensuring all communication is an eloquent expression of your values.
The most important thing about working with authentic values is that it really is an all or nothing process. To turn your business into an out-performer of your industry, your values must be the heart and life blood of your company. That means represented in everything you do from your product and service offering, to your employees, customers and internal processes.