I’ve been in business for nearly four decades, and over that time, one of my biggest challenges has been how to keep everyone on the same page. How do we get all our folks marching in the same direction and understanding what it means to be part of the ABC family?
Like so many companies, we have our core values. Core values are designed to represent to the people inside and outside the company what is important to the people who work here.
Generally, core values are big words with lofty thoughts that people may or may not completely abide by or understand. Several years ago, our management team worked to put into writing our mission and vision statements, along with our core values. It was a terrific process, and took several months and many meetings to get all three concepts just right. I’m very pleased with our core values, because they represent what is important here at ABC.
Our core values are built around the concept of growth. I’m a firm believer that in business or in life, you are either growing or dying. We identified the six key areas in which we wanted to grow:
- Relationships with our customers, coworkers and community
- Positive attitude
- Knowledge and expertise
- Passion to serve
- Business profitably
The core values outline what is important to all of us, and that’s critical when it comes to keeping everyone on the same page. But we learned about another step that is serving us well when it comes to understanding what it means to be an ABC Anteater. Values are more conceptual, and behaviors are true actions, so we established the ABC Core Behaviors.
This process was completely different from how we established our core values. This time, we worked hard to have everyone in the company involved. We held a series of six evening meetings, and invited every employee to participate, to establish the actual behaviors that are important to all of us. Of course, we started each evening with a BBQ dinner to get everyone in a positive and creative mood. We then broke out into tables of eight and collectively decided to work on behaviors in three main categories to determine what our are behaviors when we are interacting with our customers, with one another, and with our community.
For each of the main categories, each table brainstormed their thoughts and voted on their Top 5 behaviors. We recorded each table’s Top 5, and then collectively voted on the top behaviors.
It was an interesting process that yielded a great many behaviors that we whittled down to a manageable number. We came up with a total of 14 core behaviors on how we interact with our customers, 14 on how we interact with one another, and seven on how we interact with our community.
We knew we needed to do more than just put these behaviors on a wall and hope everyone lived them. We have a weekly meeting that we record and send to the entire team. This meeting includes topics such as company production for the month to-date, a safety lesson and accident update, a short training segment, and announcements.
To kick off each meeting, I now read one core behavior for the week and describe what I think that core behavior means to me. It’s usually about a two- to three-minute discussion about that specific behavior, and I close by asking everyone to practice the behavior that week.
We started this process about a year-and-a-half ago, and just finished going through the 35 core behaviors for the second time. As we begin the next round of discussing the behaviors, we will have different people each week take one behavior and give their perspective on how to live that behavior.
I’m very proud of the 35 behaviors we created together, and truly believe our folks work to exhibit these behaviors each day in their interactions with their coworkers, customers and community. I really feel this process keeps us all behaving in a consistent manner and helps us all stay on the same page.
Core Behaviors with One Another
- Be approachable with one another
- Have a sense of humor
- Be positive with one another
- Be patient with one another
- Treat one another like customers
- Congratulate, motivate and encourage one another
- Be open-minded, embrace change
- Welcome/encourage feedback
- Always do the right thing
- Find opportunities to get to know your peers
- Be supportive in times of need
- Take extreme ownership/show pride in work
- Practice clear communication
- Treat one another with respect
Core Behaviors with Our Customers
- Treat customers’ property with respect
- Be punctual
- Always make a great first impression
- Educate your customers
- Practice active listening
- Be empathetic
- Build long-term relationships with customers
- Communicate with courtesy
- Always exceed expectations
- Respect our team in front of the customer
- Always maintain a professional image
- Take extreme ownership of customers
- Smile, be friendly, have a can-do attitude
- Always say “thank you” to customers
Core Behaviors with the Community
- Practice safe and courteous driving
- Perform random acts of kindness
- Support community causes
- Be environmentally responsible
- Proudly represent the brand
- Educate communities and schools
- Treat everyone like a customer