You and your team are not valuable for the actions you take.
Elliott Jacques, in his book Requisite Organization, states that the value of our work is not in the action we take, but the decision that precedes that action. The action is a simple mechanical response, the execution of the actual work we did in making the decision.
What this means is that we should be judging ourselves and our employees not by the actions, but by the decisions. So if you’re a business owner like Miles and wondering how to change the results your employees are giving you, we have to start with identifying how they’re making the decisions that are leading to those results.
This is why it is necessary to define clear core company values. These values act as a guide which will give your employees the ability to make better decisions and therefore produce better results. When they’re facing a difficult situation or an angry customer, they will be able to default to the company values. What do the values indicate would be an appropriate response in this situation?
At Measurable Genius, one of our values is that we cultivate long-term vision. As long as my team members demonstrate that they’ve made a decision with the long-term in mind, I will stand behind them. It’s the basis of our praise and reprimand. It’s not the behaviour or the actions that we as business owners should be worrying about, but the decision-making. As long as you make decisions that align with the company values, that’s a good decision. When you challenge the values, that’s not a good decision.
In summary: you must equip your team with the ability to make great decisions, which means giving them a framework to make those decisions with. That framework is your list of company values.