Establishing “Honest” Values
In Defining Your HOW (Your Values), Part 1, we talked about the importance of having a clear rationale associated with your values. Now let’s consider another important aspect of how you approach defining your values. This is a concept that I like to think about as being able to differentiate between “Idealistic” Values, and “Honest” Values. In a nutshell, “Honest” Values are more realistic, and therefore, more attainable, which will, of course, lead to both happier employees and happier customers.
You will find that many businesses state that “the customer is always right.” However, I think a more honest value is “We do right by our customers. That does not mean they are right all the time, but that they are always important and deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt, treated fairly and with respect. Our customers should be our biggest fans and our most active advocates.” I believe while both of these values have the potential to accomplish the same thing, the second one has a better chance of success because it addresses the WHY. In the practical application of the “Honest” Value used in this example, it won’t matter whether the customer is right or wrong, but will instead ensure a focus on the customer relationship. Furthermore, not only will an “Honest” Value be more attainable than an Idealistic Value, it will also be more meaningful in terms of being better tied to more realistic drivers behind the value. Lastly, by being both more attainable and more meaningful, establishing this type of Honest Value is also more likely to always deepen the relationship with the customer.
One of my favorite examples of value setting is from Herb Kelleher (co-founder and first CEO of Southwest Airlines) who put employees ahead of customers, and customers ahead of shareholders. “Why?”, you ask? Because happy employees will serve passengers better and go the extra mile to make passengers happy. Happy passengers become repeat customers who spend more with the company, which makes for happy shareholders.
For Herb, it started with the people who are providing service, and not the people receiving service. This drove how he recruited and hired people for Southwest.
In my next post, I will share one of the most successful methods I have seen for bringing the right people into the fold. Till then, I hope you enjoy my favorite saying about the value of bringing in the best talent, and making sure that they are happy and feel rewarded; “Great Cheese Comes From Happy Cows!”
Do you have any similar sayings about employees or customers?
Let me know (in the comments).