At my first office job out of college, I remember looking up and seeing the company values plastered along the walls.
They had something to do with a metaphorical bus. I think they said, “Get on the teamwork bus!”
The problem, of course, was that there wasn’t any teamwork. The organization was engulfed in fear and infighting.
Despite the corporate bus posters and endless team building events, I found myself in what I think can be best described as, “the gap.”
The gap is realizing you’ve been sold on something so far divorced from reality that, when you finally come to your senses and see things for what they are, you feel like you are part of some grand conspiracy–one that only you can see (or one that others choose to ignore…).
It’s the employee version of buyer’s remorse but in a more psychologically damaging kind of way. You might know it as “being disengaged.”
The High Cost of “The Gap”
According to a survey by Deloitte, eighty-seven percent of organizations reported that “employee engagement” was a major challenge. Fifty percent of employees surveyed reported they wouldn’t recommend their employer to others.
Fifty percent is a huugge number. And I’d be willing to bet that many of those surveyed were actively experiencing “the gap.”
when employees don’t understand the company values, or worse, the company proclaims them while simultaneously dismissing them—high performing employees (your internal customers) leave.
This is bad for obvious reasons. Turnover is a business killer. That’s no secret.
But value alignment goes much deeper than just keeping your best employees.
It’s also a strategic tool that aligns all your business processes together in a way that articulates and strengthens your brand promise. It also helps you identify new opportunities for growth.
So, what do “company values” really mean? And how can we harness their power to create a world-class business that smokes the competition?
The first step is to understand the real function of values and why so many people fail to use them in a meaningful way.
Your Company Values Probably Suck–Here’s Why.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before… “We believe in integrity.” Or better yet, “We believe in honesty.”
These values, while noble, are problematic for multiple reasons:
1) Values such as “honesty” and “respect” are universal.
It doesn’t really matter where you go. Ask people what their values are, and you’re bound to get some variation of honesty, integrity, or respect. I mean, most people probably don’t want to be around jerks or liars, let alone work with them.
Do you know anyone who would disagree with these values? I don’t.
2) They don’t really offer much in the way of solving problems.
While nice in a philosophical sense, these ideas are hard to apply in any real, tangible way.
Values like “honesty and integrity” are philosophical values.
For values to matter, they need to be “operational.”
That’s where the 6Ps framework comes in.
Operationalize Your Company Values and Become World-Class With The Six Ps
In the business management book, Lead With Your Customer, authors Mark David Jones and J. Jeff Kober say you can transform your culture and brand using “The Six Ps.”
The Six Ps formula will help you deliberately operationalize the vision and values of your brand by giving you a snapshot of how you already operate.
What’s cool about this is that it also helps you identify areas for improvement.
The Six Ps Formula And How to Use It
Promise < People + Place + Process + Product > Price
Translation: Your promise (brand) must exceed the services (people, place, process, product) and be well worth the price (costs of interacting with the business).
When using this framework, it’s important to realize that there are two sets of customers: internal and external customers (See figure 1 below).
Using the framework above, plot the necessary information into each of the “Ps.” Do one for your internal customers and one for your external facing customers. Is it easy to identify each of the “Ps” your business provides?
If not, take time to really dig in and figure out how your business operates.
Example: JetBlue’s 6Ps
Here’s JetBlue’s call center program run through the Six Ps for their internal customers (Figure 2 below).
JetBlue allows its customer service reps to work from home. Although they pay less money compared to other call centers, the promise of a flexible work environment exceeds the services (People, Place, Process, and Product) involved and is well worth the price (less pay).
Once you’ve plotted your 6Ps, it’s then time to plug in your company values. This is where the magic happens.
Run Your Company Values Through the 6Ps to Identify Alignment/Misalignment
With your Six Ps plotted out, take each of your company values and overlay them on each of the six Ps.
This is an example of a fitness club infusing their company values of safe and clean, cutting edge, and supportive into each of their Six Ps.
Each company value is operationalized into the Six Ps. This fitness club doesn’t just talk about being cutting edge, they exemplify it.
As you can see above (figure 3), this tool helps you form a clearer vision of how your business operates and how your values fit into that vision. It also helps you understand where you might be aligned/misaligned in your business.
And as a side note, if you’re drawing blanks, it’s a good thing. It means you’ve identified opportunities to improve your business.
Company Values (Operationalized) Are Your Competitive Advantage
Sticking mission statements, value posters, and corporate jargon on the walls are meaningless (And in many cases harmful) if not reflected in the day-to-day operations of the company.
Operationalizing your company values using the Six Ps framework is one of the most powerful and underutilized tools in a company’s arsenal.
Companies that use it create an unfair advantage in the marketplace and become world-class. They kill the gap, and in the process, the competition, too.
Want to learn more about the 6Ps? Grab Lead With Your Customer Here.
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