So, if you think about any of the great businesses that we know of, you think about Apple and Disney and Virgin, and all those great businesses that have been famous and have been around for a long time. One of the things that’s common to all of them, is they’re really clear about who they are and how they serve their people, but most importantly what their business values are. And if you stand and look at these businesses, it’s really evident from the outside what they stand for.
You see, our business values, they’re like our internal morals and our external ethics. They’re individual. They’re part of the personality of everyone’s business.
So it’s really important that you take some time to actually get clarity around what your business values are, what do you stand for? Do you stand for success? Do you stand for fun? Do you stand for adventure? Do you stand for teamwork?
It’s going to be different for you, and it’s going to come from your heart, your soul. It’s your imprint in your business and the way you want your business to interact with the world.
When I did my business values, it was really funny because one of the business values we have in our business is to have fun. The other thing I wanted to say to you is that once you have your list of values, and maybe you have five to eight business values, you want to take some time to define what they mean for you in your business. We call these values markers.
When I was in my business, when I first started out, I had my first assistant. It was a guy named John. He was a friend of mine, and I’d employed him to help me as my personal assistant. John and I shared an office, and it was a very closed office. And I’m very auditory, which means I pick up on sounds a lot.
And so we used to work in this closed space, and John used to have his headphones on, and he used to play music and stamp his feet. It would drive me absolutely insane! As I mentioned earlier, one of my business values was fun, so on the days when John had his headphones on, and he’s playing the drums on his desk and stamping his feet, I looked a little fried. I’d want to kill him by the time he went home. And I’d always say to him at the end of the day, because fun is so important to me, did you have fun today?
Now, my definition of fun, is kind of is those adolescent, prankster jokes where you stick someone’s phone down so that when it rings it continues to ring when they pick up the phone, or you empty the hole punch into their drawer. I know it’s really silly, but I was brought up in the corporate world, and this is the stuff that we used to do to break the monotony of being in a big corporate office. We’d change the clock time. This for me was fun.
So, on the days when I’d play a few practical jokes on John, I’d hang on him or tease him, he’d go home looking a little fried. So you see, we never used to get our fun sorted out. And I’d say to him on my great days, oh, I had such a great day today John! Did you have a great day? And he’d be stomping out of the office, not really happy. And it was thinking, I don’t really get what’s going on with him today. And on the days when he’d play his music, he’d be skipping out of the office going home, and I’d be sitting there kind of like, errr.
So we sat down one day, and I said to him, “hey, what’s your definition of fun?” And I found out that, for him, his definition of fun was being able to listen to music in the office every day. For me, my definition was being able to empty the hole punch into his desk drawer like an episode of The Office. So we realised that we had this misalignment, and while we were talking the same language, like using the word fun, it had totally different meanings for us.
That would be the same in your business. If your values are teamwork, if your values are great communication, if your values are punctuality or innovation – you need to sit down and define in four or five sentence what each of those values mean because they become the rules by which you and your team play by. They become the rules by which you decide what you’re going to do in your business and what you’re not going to do in your business and they will become the things people talk about in your business.
So, go ahead, take some time out. Make sure that you have your list of business values, and most importantly, share them with your team. Maybe turn it into a team exercise where you can work out what your values mean to your organisation and how each and every day you’re going to live them.
I know it will improve your business life as it did mine, and it will get rid of all those nasty little communication problems that we sometimes have when we have a team.