I’m glad you’re here for an episode that may be a little bit short but is full of necessity. I want to talk about core values. A lot of businesses talk about core values, small and large businesses alike. And that’s good! Every business should have done an activity that helps define and develop its core values as a company. What I’ve been seeing lately, though, is that while it’s wonderful to hear a business declare “We stand for loyalty, transparency, and trust”, what happens if what occurs in levels of the business contradicts those values? That’s what I want to examine.

It may sound harsh, or like doom and gloom when I say that stating core values that are not followed through on in actions as a business truly can be the demise of the business. Why would I say that? Core values represent things you promise to be and do as a company. If you fail to live up to those stated values, you lose integrity. You present as out of alignment and customers lose trust in everything you say and offer. That kind of loss can be catastrophic to a business.

I want to give you examples of situations I’ve encountered with real business owners that demonstrate this. How does this contradiction show up? What does it look like when core values aren’t acted on in a business? Where does it usually creep in? How can that be prevented? I want you and your business to succeed so I’m going to address all those questions. I’m glad you’re joining me to dig deeper into what core values mean beyond stating them as part of a business plan. It’s so important to ask yourself how you will keep those values alive in your daily activities.

Key Moments

02:02 Why misalignment with core values can be the end of a business

03:03 Business example of core values initially in action

05:01 Follow-up example of how later actions were at odds with the stated core values

  • Why a noted misalignment of core values to actions matters
  • Ask what your business’s core values are and whether you are demonstrating them 
  • Look into your team and ask yourself if they’re leading or being led according to your core values

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Resources discussed in this episode:

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Contact Kari Lotzien | Be the Anchor: 

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Transcript:

Kari Lotzien: [00:00:01] Welcome to Be the Anchor, the podcast. I’m your host, business and leadership coach Kari Lotzien. When the seas of life get stormy, and they always will, it is not up to us to captain anyone else’s ship or to try to calm the waters of the ocean. It’s up to us to set our own destination for what we really want, and to learn how to navigate those waves of life together while finding that place of security and stability with others. I call this being an anchor. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:00:38] Hello my friends. I’m so glad you’re here. Today’s episode is going to be a little bit short, but I feel like it has so much necessity. So I don’t think that it is uncommon right now to hear businesses talk about their core values. And I think that a lot of small businesses, a lot of large businesses, can say here’s what we stand for: we believe in trust, we believe in transparency, we believe in loyalty, we believe in professionalism. And that is all fine and good. And I really hope that if you haven’t kind of done an activity around developing the core values of your business, that you will do that. When we think about the core values of a company, it’s the same as we are personally. Our core values are there to guide our behavior, and it’s the same in business. Core values aren’t just something that you talk about during your team meetings, or that you put in your training manuals, or that you talk about and it’s one and done. Your core values in your business should be the guide to every single thing that you do, the services that you provide, how you have your customer experience journey, how you onboard new team members, how you develop team culture. Your core values guide everything. I had a situation here in this last week that I wanted to share because I think that it highlighted this idea that we can have core values, but if we don’t carry them through all aspects of our business, that it really starts to feel like we are out of our own integrity as a business. And I fully believe – this might sound like super catastrophic, but listen, that’s just where I’m at today – I believe this can be the absolute demise of a company. Okay. I want to share with you about a conversation that I had with a small business owner recently. The first time that I met this small business owner, the first thing that drew me and that I noticed about this company was what an inclusive environment is. There was so much diversity in this really small business. There were people who were English as a second language. There were people who had diagnosed anxiety challenges. There were people that had all different ways of communicating and needs in this very small company. But I could tell that the owner had created this true sense of family and connection and support, and had been guiding his company so well through adapting some of the ways that they onboarded, how they did their schedule, how they set up their workstations. There were so many things that were going beautifully in the company, and it really stood out to me. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:03:36] Now let’s fast forward a bit. So I have a conversation here just a couple of weeks ago, and the same business owner came to me and said, I’ve got a new employee who is really underperforming. They are just not meeting the criteria for what we need in the business. So my response to this was, okay, tell me kind of where this person came from. How did you find them? How did they come to be? What are they doing really well? And this owner wanted me to work directly with that employee, which is always a hesitation for me because I like to work more with the owner, because I believe that they’re the best ones who can create change in the business and really create that different culture, because then they’re leading it. So as we were exploring this and I dug into it and I said, you know, I’m willing to kind of explore with this employee to figure out kind of like, what’s going on, where are we missing, how might we adjust the training, or how might we adjust how we’re communicating so that this person can be more successful, I said, but I really need to be working also with their manager. And who’s the person who’s responsible for mentorship? Who’s the person that is the one who’s guiding them, who’s giving them tasks to do, who’s doing their most of their training on a day to day basis? And this person paused and they said, well, we do – so defined who this person was – and said, ah, you know, but I’m a little bit hesitant because this person is difficult.

Kari Lotzien: [00:05:15] And what they then uncovered is that this person was really good at their job. They were really good at the tasks that they were assigned to do. They were in an admin position. So in terms of invoicing, communication, managing a really busy office, they were doing really well with the tasks. They had the ability to manage a lot of different competing demands on their attention and their time. But he said, really, when it comes to new staff, this person can be – his words, not mine – a little bit of a B. And he said there’s times where she’s just not very patient, where she’s kind of like, you know, he’s like, honestly, like there’s times where I feel like she’s really judgmental. I paused and I said, I apologize, but I’m kind of surprised. And I said, well, because back when we first met what I saw is that you had this beautiful, inclusive business. And when we talked about the core values of your business, it was family and trust and relationship. Like he just really created this sense of community and belonging for these people who may not have felt like they fit elsewhere. And I said, now you’ve given a management position and a mentorship position to someone who does not seem to hold those same core values of non-judgment and inclusion and family, and that sense of belonging. This just surprises me.

Kari Lotzien: [00:06:56] And as we talked through this, he said, well, honestly, I never looked at it that way because she’s really good at her job. The tasks that she does on her front line, the things that she is responsible for outside of the management position, she’s really good at. Now, I’m going to be honest with you, I’m really concerned about the future of this company if she stays, especially holding the same behaviors that she does right now that demonstrate judgment and not accepting people who have different learning abilities or people who might be challenged with the language. Because if that is how your behavior, how your mentorship, how your training program is being executed, the behavior of the business, if that’s not in alignment with these core values of belonging and accepting and inclusivity that you are sharing and saying out loud to people, you have this real lack of integrity in your business.

[00:08:09] Jillian is an incredible entrepreneur who is going through a time of scaling her very successful business. When she offered to record a testimonial about her experience with the Anchored Leadership Academy to go on my podcast, I was so honored. Have a listen to what she had to say. My name is Jillian and I just finished the Anchored Leadership program with Kari Lotzien. I’m a financial planner. I’ve owned a practice for eight years. And I’d hit a space of exponential growth. Everything was going great, but I always struggled with the management of team, how to hire, how to fire, how to have those yucky conversations. And that was a huge takeaway from the Anchored Leadership, where I got tools and practice as to how to implement those things into my business so I can continue to grow and continue to thrive. It was an exceptional experience that I would highly recommend to any business owner who is looking to push through their discomfort to that next level of success. In the Anchored Leadership Academy, we combine weekly live sessions for one hour that focus on a key area of leadership, and then participants have the ability to work through all of the content in the modules between sessions. This allows a nice balance between accountability for really busy entrepreneurs to keep moving forward with the program and get it done, while also having the ability to flex their time a little bit and make it work for them. An added bonus, all participants get lifetime access to the videos, the audio, all of the resources in the course so you can keep coming back to it again and again when it applies to that specific time in your business. If this sounds like an interesting thing to you, click the link in the show notes, book an inquiry call, and let’s see if the Anchored Leadership Academy is right for you at this stage of business. Thanks so much. Back to the show.

Kari Lotzien: [00:10:09] Now here’s the thing. I think with small business owners, this can happen fairly easily because initially you are the hub of the wheel. And I do think that the owners behaviors were still in alignment with the core values of the company. But I think what had happened is that in that when this person was in a frontline role, when they were in an employee role without a management title, they were very successful in that position, and because they were successful in the position, they then got moved into management, which I see often. Promoted, not because they had exceptional mentorship abilities, because they were a really good manager of people, because they had really good communication skills. They were promoted because they were showing really good results in their role, in their current role as admin. But when we move them into a management position, now all of a sudden they are executing the core values of the business in a different role. And this was not lining up. I think we then need to go back and revisit. As the owner, have a conversation with that manager. These are the core values of the business, this is what we believe, and this is how our training protocol aligns with that core value. This is how our customer service aligns with our core values. When someone comes in and they can’t really describe what’s going on because maybe they are English as a second language, maybe they just don’t have the knowledge or the experience, what I want to know, when we talk about inclusivity, belonging, family, that that customer is also met with patience, that we maybe try a few different ways to have a conversation with them so that we can gather the information that we need to provide the service to this person, but that we don’t have that customer service experience where that person feels like they’re a frustration, or that we don’t have patience for them, or that they don’t belong here. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:12:31] So when we look at core values, I think this is where some businesses are falling short. And I want you to ask yourself, when you go back to your core values in your business, even if you are a solopreneur, when you look at every element of your business, how are you demonstrating those core values in your systems, in your processes, in the actions in the business? And if you can’t easily tell me how your core values are demonstrated, or if I was to say to you, okay, poke holes. Are there any places in your company where your core value is not completely in alignment with how you’re behaving? If you can’t do that easily, I want you to just dive into it and really address are those two things lining up? A) if you are the one controlling all of those systems and processes, and you’re the one actually executing the customer service, it’s somewhat easier. But then if you have a team, and especially if you have someone else on your team who is executing at a management or a mentorship or doing training in your company, I am really pushing on the fact that they must be able to describe how your core values are demonstrated in their training, in how they’re training the front line in terms of customer service or providing, you know, a product and experience for whoever is paying you to provide that service. How is that being executed on every single level? When you dive into this, you can create huge change in your business. But I think this is where core values just aren’t enough. 

Kari Lotzien: [00:14:16] So a little bit of food for thought today. This might feel a little bit, I don’t know, intense or pushy. I’m really not trying to be pushy. I want your business to succeed, and I think we spend a lot of time thinking about our core values and what we stand for and what we want to stand for, but that is not a one and done exercise. Your core values need to show up in your business, in your processes, every single day, every single time that you face a challenge, or you’re coming up against a question where you’re not sure what the right thing is to do, you go back to your core values and you say, okay, if this is our core value, what would be the next right action that we would take? It should guide your decision-making. So core values are not a one and done where you write it on a piece of paper and then you don’t look at it for another, I don’t know, five years. It should be part of every single decision you make. And if it’s not aligning or if you need to shift your core values to maybe more accurately describe your current model, that’s okay. But make sure those two things are connected, because if they’re not, this can be the demise of your business. Because when you get this or when you have someone, especially in management or mentorship training position, where their core values are in opposition to yours, this is toxic and it can spread like a cancer through your business. And you don’t want that.

Kari Lotzien: [00:15:44] Okay, I love you. I want to share the hard things with you, and I want to be having these hard conversations. I want to point out where you might be having some blind spots in your business. So today that’s all this little episode was, is to just invite you to have a look at that and to do some serious little work on really digging in. Okay. Thanks so much for being here. We’ll see you next week. If you haven’t clicked on the link to subscribe to the newsletter, that is the absolute best way to know what’s going on, when new episodes are released, what the topics are, and all of the fun little things that I’m doing, connections that I’m making, I love to share. So the best place to connect with me is definitely through my newsletter. So click on the link in the notes and sign up for that. Thanks so much. We’ll see you next time.

Kari Lotzien: [00:16:31] Please know that this podcast is meant for entertainment purposes only. It is not a substitution for medical or professional mental health advice. If you require support, please do reach out. Thanks so much.