Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Why Is Compassion So Rarely Listed as a Corporate Value?

There’s a generic list of values we see over and over when companies articulate their culture. If I had a nickel for every time the words Integrity, Honesty or Respect showed up in corporate values, I’d have a whole bunch of nickels.

In the wake of Harvey, I keep thinking about the value of Compassion. I’ve watched with interest the huge disaster relief efforts of  H-E-B, the Texas-based supermarket. They provide concrete help in disaster areas. Sometimes that can be as simple as giving away bags of ice, but it also involves deploying their mobile kitchens to feed first responders and displaced storm victims, sometimes for days at a time.

How would the value of Compassion drive business? Some might say it’s too altruistic to be useful in a competitive marketplace. But in the case of H-E-B, customer loyalty is built over and over by these compassionate acts, offered when people are at their most vulnerable. That’s the kind of loyalty that will trump milk being priced a little lower at some other store.

Actually, compassion seems a logical strategy for building customer relationships. If companies were to include Compassion as a value, that might be the permission employees need to be kind  — to each other, to customers and to the community at large.

There’s been a lot of emphasis in recent years on running companies lean and mean. The economic downturn created the need for efficiency and cost-cutting and anything else businesses could do to remain competitive.

Compassion calls for the opposite of being competitive. It encourages the view that we’re all in this together, and that helping our neighbors is the way we’ll get through.

People buy from brands they trust. Treating people with compassion is a powerful means to gaining that trust. Maybe Compassion deserves a spot on that list of most-common corporate values.

Interested in evolving your corporate values? Tribe can help.

Year-End Recruiting Evaluation

It’s getting close to the end of the calendar year, a time to look back and take stock of all that has transpired over the past 11 or so months. Who did you hire this year? Have they blended well with the company? Would someone else have been a better fit?

Many companies don’t do a lot of hiring at this time of year, but it’s a great time to develop a plan for how (and who) you want to recruit in 2013. You’re obviously going to look for the candidate that has the talent to do the job. While skill set and aptitude are important, it’s equally as crucial to find someone that would fit within the culture of your organization.

Does your company offer an employee value proposition? A compelling vision that provides meaningful work is not just for non-profits, but it does have to be something more inspiring than the vision of selling more widgets. How does your company help make a better world? How does it improve human lives?

Additionally, what makes you stand out among other employers? At Tribe, we recommend including at least one or two shiny hooks in your EVP. These are the benefits that capture the imagination. They’re the things people will talk about, both inside and outside the company. It could be something big like offering a sabbatical after so many years of service or something small but unique, like bringing your dog to work on Fridays.

Do you look for employees that share your values? One of the goals of your recruiting process should be to find individuals that blend with the core values of your company. Your values are what define you as an organization and shape your day-to-day business decisions. Employees that miss the mark when it comes to identifying with your corporate message may have trouble fitting in.

If you need help coming up with ideas on ways to communicate your employee value proposition to potential new hires, give Tribe a call. We’d be happy to help!

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Companies with Compelling Visions Attract and Retain Star Talent

A recent post by Tim Williams of Ignition Group is directed at ad agencies, but it also raises an important point for large employers in any industry. The post is titled “One Agency, Indivisible,” and it refers to studies that show a causal relationship between agencies with strong ideals and strong financial performance.

This dovetails with what we know about companies with a compelling vision and the underlying values to support that vision. No matter how much you pay employees, how many perks and benefits you offer, nothing tops people finding meaning in their work. (For more on how that impacts retention, you might want to see an earlier Good Company blog titled “For Retention, Loving the Work Itself Trumps Anything Else in the EVP.”)

A compelling vision that provides meaningful work is not just for non-profits. But it does have to be something more inspiring than the vision of selling more widgets. How does selling more widgets make it a better world? How does it improve human lives?

When a company can offer employees a meaningful reason to come to work every day, that engages employees in a way that attracts star talent and retains the talent you already have. But as Williams says towards the end of his blog, “Countries march into battle motivated by firmly held beliefs. If you model a set of meaningful, differentiating principles, the people in your firm will be willing to do the same.”

In other words, employees have to see their management bringing the vision and the values to life  in the day-to-day business. When you have that, then you have the  potential for harnessing the best work of the best people in pursuit of that vision.



Values-Based Culture: How Do Values Impact Revenue?

Defining the core values of your company plays an important role in creating a culture that connects with your employees. As beneficial as clearly stating what your values are and how they help decide the direction of your organization, it still leaves the question: How do your values impact your bottom line?

It starts with the people you hire.
When talented people are reviewing their potential employers, evaluating the ideas a company bases itself on is usually part of the process. A clearly defined set of core values allows candidates to see how well they match up with the company and decide if it would be a good fit. When the combination works, your organization benefits from talented employees that help your business progress and compete in your industry.

Your employees work harder.
When your workforce contains fully engaged employees who live and breathe the values of your organization, they tend to be better performing employees as well. Not only do they buy into your values, but they also end up buying into the goals those values support. The ambitions of your company become their ambitions and depending on your industry, your business could see better sales, stronger service or another measurable dynamic that supports a higher level of revenue.

Your customers become ambassadors.
When a customer repeatedly has a positive experience with a company, and then discovers that their personal values match up favorably with the organization, it creates a connection. The type of connection that causes the customer to praise your brand to their friends, family and acquaintances and become a walking poster board for your business. Recommendations between peers are some of the strongest advertisements for a brand. It instills an instant credibility and brings more people to your products or services that may have shopped elsewhere. This results in higher profits and growth due to the incorporation of identifiable values embraceable by your employees and customers.

Considering Values When Hiring

When a position opens in your company, the people that end up being called in for an interview will most likely already come equipped with the necessary skills for the job. But a list of skills doesn’t tell the whole story.

One of your goals of the interview should be to find individuals that blend with the core values of your company. Your values are what define you as an organization. They shape your day-to-day business decisions and employees that miss the mark when it comes to identifying with your corporate message may have trouble fitting in. Here are a few ways to see if your values blend well with your new hire candidates.

Use that resume. Your candidate may already have an established history in the workforce. If so, review their previous stops. Not just for the position they held, but for the values of the company where they worked. If those values are similar to yours, you may have a golden candidate. If they don’t match up well, it could be a red flag and you may want to keep looking.

Actions speak louder than words. The more people at your company that have a chance to interact with a candidate, the more sides of them you’ll see. After a person passes the basic skills for the position test, you may want to consider putting them through a group interview. To see how they react when they’re not “on,” have them wait a little extra time in the lobby and ask your front desk attendant to engage them in conversation. How they respond could be very telling information that could save you a lot of time and energy.

Have a culture conversation. Hiring someone that doesn’t mesh with your values is not just a problem for you, it’s can also be troubling for them. Avoid putting someone in a position to fail by being open and clear about what your company values are and how they affect your day-to-day operations. In some instances, this will allow the candidate to realize for themselves that they’re not the best match for your company and you can both go your separate ways.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

What Are the Guiding Principles of Your Company?

compassEvery business has guiding principles by which the company does business, but some are set consciously and others are not. When you own your own company, you have the opportunity to play large in the world, by navigating with your own moral compass. If you’re starting a company, or already running one, you might want to think through the following questions.

1. What values are most important to you in your life?

2. In what ways can your company reflect those values to the world?

3. What role do you want to play in your immediate community?

4. What do you hope vendors say about how you run your company?

5. What do you want clients to think about the way you do business?

6. What do you hope makes employees most proud of the company?

7. What do you want employees to feel about the way they’re treated?

8. What is your company’s responsibility to you?

9. What are the values you want to adhere to, even in times of stress, or even if it costs you money?

10. At your funeral, what do you hope people will say about how you ran your business?

I can’t give you the answers to these questions. It’s your company and it will be based on your values, whether you do so intentionally or not. But keep in mind, there are no wrong answers here. When you launch a company, you’re creating something of value where nothing existed before. The values of your company are such one more way you make your mark on the world.