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Making Your Values Mean Something: Tips for Managers and Employees

Lead by example and your team will follow suit.

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BY Young Entrepreneur Council - 06 Jul 2018

Making Your Values Mean Something: Tips for Managers and Employees

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

By Steve Carter, Co-Founder of Candidate.Guru.

At the heart of every Starbucks store, there's a mission and a set of core business values. There are people working for wages that exceed those of other restaurant and fast food chains. It could be that Starbucks managers have a knack for hiring people who love working with the public. There are other companies like this, both big and small, that we visit every day, but we might not stop and consider why we like them or keep going back to them instead of trying their direct competitors. Below I will examine Starbucks values and reflect on why managers and employees should ensure their own values mean something.

According to Patrick M. Lencioni in Harvard Business Review, "Values can set a company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. But coming up with strong values -- and sticking to them -- requires real guts." Employees want to believe they are part of something bigger and they work with people with shared beliefs about work. However, the best companies also allow room for people to support common values while making decisions on their own without compromising the organizational mission. We find the following four key values from the Starbucks brand easy to understand and comment on here:

Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.

This is something that comes from high levels of employee training, including everything from checking the temperature of milk and cream kept on the counter to frequent bathroom cleaning schedules. People wouldn't go to Starbucks if they expected the store's beverage quality or cleanliness to be sub-par.

Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.

How do you show your colleagues that you're dedicated to finding the best ways to do things? This isn't something any good manager believes she could do alone. Being a manager who is respected for upholding values that mean something takes many skills, such as practicing good communication, straightforwardness and honesty. The goal is to make all workers feel comfortable working with you and to inspire them to give their best to shared projects.

Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.

There are four values built into this one. However, managers are individuals who must strive for a sense of openness with direct-report employees. They want to keep an open door policy, but they also want to reveal operational details, including details about current problems and upcoming projects, at a pace that employees can handle. They don't want to share too much information and stress employees out. Employees need time to focus on core duties and to receive support as they try to meet deadlines that have been established for their current assignments.

Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.

Whenever you see a Starbucks employee make a drink at no cost to the customer or even "buy" a free drink for a dissatisfied customer just because, you realize why their clientele return again and again and pay high prices for custom beverages. The customer base is often people who prefer a high degree of customization in a beverage. They belong to a coffeehouse culture that costs a little extra but makes them feel pampered whenever they enter a store. Starbucks consumers count on that feeling even when they are in an airport concession or at the Super Target purchasing a mocha Frappuccino with double whip and chocolate syrup.

Before you determine the values for a small business or try to revamp them in a larger organization, be sure to include managers and workers from all areas of the company and from all pay grades. Employees want to buy into any values-setting process and to ensure the chosen ones truly represent the current workplace culture. If employee behavior does not enforce your business values, however standardized or ad-hoc in nature, consumers won't believe them. They will give their business to other brands they believe are meritorious of their trust.

Steve Carter is the Co-Founder of Candidate.Guru, an HR Tech startup that recently acquired Elevated Careers from prominent dating site eHamrony!

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