Video is below.
Today we're going to talk about values. There was a beautiful office building with their values of integrity, communication, respect, and excellence, chiseled in marble into their front lobby. It's in downtown Houston, in a beautiful location, and you're probably thinking this is a great company to work for. If you're from Texas, like me, like the cavnessHR CEO and other people on our team. Then you probably know some people who worked there, people who lost their jobs when the company crashed, and the executives went to jail. That's right. This is Enron, whose leaders went to jail, and whose company went bankrupt from fraud. Man, did they pay lip service to some really great values? Here's the truth. In organizations, employees decide how to act not based upon some ethical statement on the company internet, or posted on the wall.
They decide to act by how they see others acting. For example, the Board of Enron once actually voted to suspend their code of ethics to allow their CFO to engage in some unethical activity in order to make more money for the company. It's no wonder that lower level employees didn't believe that acting ethically or undermining their code was a big deal. Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum, let's look at Zappos. A company famous for its unique corporate culture. The company lets its values develop around one concept, that of keeping its employees and customers happy. The CEO actually let the employees draft the essays about the importance of the Zappos culture in their organization. He even pays employees to quit if they don't fit the company culture. His concept is that putting values before culture is like putting the cart before the horse.
First, you focus on culture, then the culture defines your values. Tony Hsieh, the CEO refused to set a values list at first. When his employees finally demanded a list of values. The CEO let them decide what they were based on the culture that they all knew and loved, and had helped to build together.
So why don't you do this exercise, sit down and write out a list of your company's top values. But here's the catch. Don't write what you think they should be, right what they are and I'm not going to let you cheat either.
Because for each value, you have to write three actions that your employees or you as their leader, take that exemplify these values. If you can't think of three actions that support a certain value. It probably means you aren't putting it into practice the way that you think you are. This exercise will help you to align your value statements with your actual culture. Once you have that, the choice is yours. Either work hard to keep what you like, or work hard to change areas that need improvement. Never forget, culture is one of the strongest resources that you have at your disposal, right up there with your human, technological and financial resources. Of course, you shouldn't ignore it. Learn to harness it, and go forth and be great every day.