“The CEO is not in charge of the company, the values are. If at the end of our career we have not passed along positive values, we have abdicated our leadership role.”
Dave Logan PhD, Author and Professor
Following two years of rapid expansion for Rayner Personnel and ambitions to grow further, I found myself questioning whether I needed to commit in writing to a set of values that sum up the ethos of my company. Was it important or something staff should be able to pick up intuitively?
A little digging revealed that a coherent and effective corporate culture can generate as much as a 30% difference in performance between a market-leading company and its “culturally unremarkable” competitors.
The reason for this is that shared aims result in a consistent customer experience. “It doesn’t matter whether you check into a Hilton hotel in Johannesburg, London or New York,” says Ben Bengougam, senior vice president of HR at the global hotel chain. “The experience should be consistent.”
Nailing our colours to the mast… That struck a chord. Now that Rayner Personnel has gone from being a small team in a single office in Bishops Stortford to a 15-office concern covering the whole of England, I want clients to have the same ‘Rayner Personnel experience’ whichever of our offices they’re dealing with. It’s our personal service that sets us apart, so I wanted to ensure that even if all our clients are not necessarily dealing with me personally, they’re being well served by regional teams who share the same ethos and values.
So I sat down and gave some thought to what those values should be. It was harder than I had expected to narrow down the things the Rayner Personnel team lives by to the most fundamental points.
I bore in mind the cautionary words of Jon Harding, former head of culture at Barclays, they needed to be authentic, to ring true. He explains, “People are often suspicious of the word ‘culture’ – it’s hard to pin down and sounds a bit woolly. A new culture that feels inauthentic or lacks relevance to the business simply won’t fly.” Harding advises, “Companies need to think about the particular goals they’ve set themselves and what specific cultures can help achieve these.”
I realised that if I wanted Rayner Personnel’s values to be more than just a piece of paper, the team needed to be involved in defining them so I scheduled it for discussion at our next meeting. Following intense debate about what Rayner Personnel stands for, we eventually agreed that, as individuals and a team, we are:
I’m glad we made the effort to nail down what Rayner Personnel stands for. As we continue to grow, these values will guide us to ensure we stay true to what makes us “us”.
What are your thoughts on the importance of company values and culture? We’d love to hear them!
Source: The Culture Cycle – Professor James L Heskett