A company that lives and leads with values will always have the competitive edge, Jeff Meyers, vice president of international operations for Neighborly, says
Values are important to us all and we are governed by them in our everyday life, whether we recognise them or not, and they influence our decision making in everything we do.
When it comes to company values, it’s not any different and they help serve as a set of universal guidelines for everyone to strive and adhere to. They also provide a framework for a company to engage with its audiences, whether that be employees, customers or stakeholders, and essentially form the company culture.
A company that lives and leads with values will always outperform, outshine, outdo and outlive competitors who leave ethics at the back door.
Values are the fundamental beliefs and attitude upon which your business and its behaviours are based and they need to be consistently communicated internally to ensure they are lived and breathed by everyone within your organisation. While it’s an easy thing to skip as things get busy, putting in the effort will reap benefits down the line.
Values are hard to teach, unlike skills and techniques, and if they’re not embraced by everyone within your organisation, can create conflict and disconnect. It’s equally as important to make sure that when recruiting potential employees, they are aligned with the same values and beliefs as those of your company culture.
How to live that culture
At Neighborly, formerly Dwyer Group, we’ve been praised around the world for our code of values and the goal to ‘Live RICH’ following the themes of respect, integrity, customer focus and having fun in the process.
It’s not just theory. It has become a way of life across 3,600-plus locations around the world and each employee is encouraged to know and follow by heart, with heart. It was over 20 years ago that we first implemented our operationalised code of values and that’s still what we’re all about.
The popularity of our code of values has also been a key driver for new customers, new franchise owners and bigger business across our 21 service brands by sheer attraction to who we are and what we stand for.
Our values have not only enabled us to maintain our close corporate culture while expanding around the world, but it has helped us become more than a £1.5 billion annual business in systemwide sales. Values really do bring value.
We are not alone in our quest to live right and do right in business and life. A lot of companies want the same thing for their business and for their people and there’s a way for getting there. It’s been said that 95 per cent of companies that have a code of values don’t even use it.
Thousands of companies spend countless hours and piles of money with experts to help define their mission, vision and values. They write them down, hang them on the wall - and then walk away.
The key to changing all that - the key to asking employees what your business stands for and getting an actual answer - is putting those values into action.
To keep our values front and centre every day, we encourage everyone in the company, from the leadership team to our franchisees on the front lines, to know and embrace these values.
We start every meeting of three or more employees by citing the values as a team. We also urge our global network of over 3,600 franchisees to adopt the values and review the code of values at their weekly meetings.
The neighborly code of values
Everyone’s values can be stated in many ways, but the core aspects of the values held by ethical people are nearly all the same.
You may ask why our 14 defined code of values are so clearly detailed and specific, but we believe that it’s better to set a high bar of values and meet them most of the time than set a low bar and meet them all the time.
Our code of values has led our company to the success we have achieved to date. It is the foundation of the company and it has created a culture in which people aren’t treated like capital or resources, but as real people.
Although our code of values is unique to Neighborly, the words aren’t what have contributed to our success, it’s the basic value behind them - values shared in common with most people.
Living and leading with values
It’s all about keeping your values simple. More often than not, we make our businesses so much more complicated than we need to. It is essential to be clear about your values and to get alignment amongst the teams, especially the leadership team, to ensure they all agree and there are clear expectations of what we can expect from each other.
Clarity of values will attract the right people because they want to be part of what you’re creating. One of the only ways to grow your company and keep the culture going is by having a committed values-based team and hiring to these values.
Unfortunately, many companies fail because they haven’t created the system around the values that keeps them at the front and centre of their business.
Company values should be so indoctrinated into your organisation that when it comes to making difficult decisions, your team and your mind automatically go to ‘what value do we need to look at as we make this decision’. It doesn’t make the decision making easier, it just makes it clear.
Dina Dwyer-Owens, Neighborly’s servant leader of Live RICH - and board member and brand advocate - summarises perfectly how a code of values creates a road map of success:
“We are not a perfect company. I believe that it is far better to occasionally fall short of high standards than to constantly meet low ones.
“And our code of values does just that: it keeps us accountable to high standards. We may not always reach the target, but we work our hardest to do our best every single day.”