by Kurt Young

The people in your organization are constantly working to create your company culture, whether they realize it or not. The core values shared by your employees are a large factor in developing the culture of your company.

Those values are the deeply held beliefs that form the guiding principles all employees should follow in their interactions with your customers, vendors, subcontractors and team members. They play a key role in demonstrating what your organization, as a whole, stands for.

Core values frequently mirror management. The behavioral style of the owner or management team should be what drives and sets the expectations for the culture. There are two ways in which this can negatively affect an organization.

First, if the company’s leadership does not develop and share the values of the company, the values will ultimately be set by other employees through unwritten rules created by the most dominant personalities. Although it can be good to have strong personalities within your team, such individuals can cause more harm than good if his or her values are not aligned with those of the company or if they are the only ones defining the values.

The other way an organization can be negatively affected is when the management team has determined the core values but doesn’t follow them. I once worked for a company that had a very unhealthy company culture, despite having mission and vision statements along with written core values. The problem: The values were not lived out by the leadership team.

Instead of respecting each other, one of the written values, employees often witnessed management disrespecting and even publicly humiliating fellow employees. This created a severe distrust within the organization and an unspoken “value” was formed: If it was okay for the owner and management to do such things, then it was acceptable for everyone to treat their teammates disrespectfully. This caused a major stall in productivity as rude interactions and self-preservation (instead of courtesy and teamwork between employees) ran rampant throughout the organization.

When the people in your organization, including management, share and demonstrate the same positive values, a common purpose and understanding is formed between them, leading to a greater working relationship among all employees. A successful company will find its employees are the most satisfied when their needs and values can actually be lived out through their workplace culture. Simply put, a healthy work environment motivates employees.

Take a hard look at the culture that exists within your organization. Do you have predetermined core values that are written down? Do your employees know what values you, as the owner, want to see firmly established within your business? Do you consistently live out these values on a daily basis?

If your company culture is not the healthiest it can possibly be, take charge and fix it. Write down at least five core values that represent what the organization truly stands for, but make sure you don’t confuse core values with company mission and vision, which are equally important, but ultimately separate, items. Share your values with your management team and have them work with you to model the culture in your organization — a culture that brings pride and not embarrassment. When hiring new people, it is vital that you seek out individuals with values that are in alignment with those of your organization, and then continue to reinforce them.

When you have a healthy culture and a common set of values, you have the groundwork necessary for sustained, profitable growth. Don’t wait until you get a complaint or lose an employee to address this issue. The action you take for your company today will set you up for a smoother and more successful tomorrow!

Kurt Young has more than 25 years of experience in sales, construction, remodeling, restoration and general contracting — with a wide range of expertise in the restoration field. His background includes small business ownership, partnerships and serving six years as general manager of a highly successful restoration firm, giving him a comprehensive perspective on the unique challenges faced by those in the restoration industry. In his career of more than 16 years as an estimator and project manager, Young averaged a 90 percent “good to excellent” customer satisfaction rating. He has attained multiple top 10 sales awards and is IICRC certified in Applied Structural Drying (ASD), Water Damage Restoration (WTR) and Fire & Smoke Restoration (FSRT).