Why core company values are more important than you think
Navy SEALs are the elite. Basic training starts with Hell Week with only 25% of candidates making it through. The cost to train a Navy SEAL is $500K. The per-head training cost for SEAL Team 6 is $3m. SEAL team 6 are the elite of the elite, the best of the best.
When Team 6 is on a mission, like the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound, there’s a moment when the switch is flipped and they transform from individuals into one single entity, a hive mind. Intelligence is multiplied, fear divided.
There is no hierarchy. The leader is the person who knows what to do next. The rest automatically move with him in dynamic subordination. This is the foundation of flipping the switch to a connected consciousness.
SEAL team 6 is the epitome of an agile team. The software industry has emulated this approach. Software teams are set up and structured using Agile methodology to great effect. At the heart of an agile team is autonomy. The freedom to make rapid decisions at team level, to always review those decisions and to learn from mistakes, not be punished for them.
The primary result is that a lot more gets done a lot faster. A secondary effect is that trust and autonomy are at the heart of actively engaged teams. Leaders shouldn’t expect teams to become actively engaged and then trust them to make decisions. Trust comes first – every time.
Historically, low productivity in the UK suggests that business is moving slowly. This is primarily because the world is getting more and more complex. When things get complex, business leaders introduce processes to mitigate risk.
Most large organisations are mired in process, the worst culprits being government and public sector. But what happens when a team in government is given a green light to work in an agile way? Complex initiatives are achieved quickly and efficiently, like the UK’s vaccine rollout. Why? Because politicians and bureaucrats got out of the way.
But even layers of process aren’t enough for organisations so afraid of letting go, so scared of trusting their people. Even mildly complex decisions are escalated. ‘I’ll have to ask my manager’ is a bad look from a customer’s point of view.
The result? Everything slows down, employees feel mistrusted and disengaged and customers are tired of waiting. The cost far outweighs any mistakes a team with autonomy might make – and importantly learn from.
Let your people solve it
The key to trust, autonomy, business moving quickly, engaged employees and happy customers is having authentic core values. Core values have to become more than a page in the employee handbook, or a poster on the loo wall. They are or should be, the beating heart of your organisation and the framework upon which leaders should recruit, review, promote and let go of employees.
Core values should be reinforced at every given opportunity. For example, recognising an employee for a great job and aligning the recognition with core values not only reinforces that core value to the individual recognised, but it also reinforces it to the individual making the recognition and all who hear it, read about it and share it.
Value-aligned teams will turn to their company’s core values and use them as a guide to making decisions quickly, avoiding unnecessary processes and manager escalation. The teams will thrive and if your teams thrive, so will your business.
And you don’t have to spend $3m per head!
If you would like to discuss how to bring your core values to life, speak to us to learn how our customers achieve this with Rippl.