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Take a Good Look at Those Core Values

Those founding or running businesses have a great deal more to consider than the bottom line, the profit margin, or the availability of products or employees. The public has lost its confidence in America s businesses, and that trust will be very difficult for many companies to reestablish. Every day the papers headline the latest example of graft, greed, dishonesty, and out-and-out corruption and point the finger at another of the companies many of whom are names that people have previously respected or even revered. Unfortunately, those who caused the problem for their companies and their customers at the same time caused problems for all of America s businesses and customers.

Then when we add on the other problems that people have identified unanswered phones, phone calls that are not returned, promises that are not honoured, warranties that have no value, guarantees that aren't honoured, quality and service that is minimal or non-existent, business owners face still another problem. These problems may well be the reasons why people turn to the net to buy, sell, and interact. It is, at least, one of the contributing factors in the rapid growth of eCommerce and the eroding faith in America s corporate world.

A corporation s core values are defined as those beliefs that are the foundation of the company. They are the principles and standards upon which the organization intends to build and be known. Values such as honesty, fairness and respect for all individuals are intended to shape the behavior of every person involved in the organization, and these standards are intended to apply along the entire spectrum of the company from the top of the corporate ladder to the least paid member of the staff. When such is not the case, we find cases such as those that made headlines in 2003 and 2004 executives using corporate funds for their own personal use, huge sums being paid to executives in the guise of varied benefit packages, and the out-and-out theft of company funds or the transfer of funds into accounts for which they were not earmarked.

Core values should not be confused with rules or employment policies, nor are they the regulations which are often found in the employee handbook. Those are the do s and don ts which everyone is supposed to follow, but those are not the values by which they are to operate. Besides, most employee handbooks are not only cumbersome, they are confusing. They try to cover every situation and every operational policy, and the result is that most of the employees don t even bother to read the entire handbook much less learn its content even in those areas where it is legally illogical not to do so (e.g., harassment). However, there are always those who do devour each word in an attempt to find ways to beat the system. Whatever the situation, few will turn to the company s handbook as a means of identifying the values by which the organization wishes to operate so that they can tailor their own behaviours accordingly.

Rules and regulations are not the foundation upon which a company is built. To think so would be as ridiculous as confusing the role of the Constitution with the laws that legislators have drafted over the years. Strict adherence to those rule books often limits or paralyzes any attempt to hold effective discussions between managers and employees regarding needed and desirable behaviours and/or conduct. Yet, such discussions could be used to determine the most effective and sound resolutions to noted problems. However, if the corporation s core values were used as the basis for an interactive analysis of those same factors, the result would quite likely be a unique solution that would stand up well in relation to those core values.

It would be a good idea for those in business to read Jim Collin s book, From Good to Great, since it lays out a clear road map to greatness if companies will take the time and effort to follow the road to success. A company s core values can be used to establish an organization's general attitude and approach to business ethics and morality. They go far beyond operational rules, and there are no simple interpretations that can be orchestrated by a referee. Instead, companies must be able to solve the problems that are encountered by using the framework of those values to establish the corporate foundation. If this concept is put in place, the problems being faced now lack of trust, jail time for corporate executives who breach those values, whistle blowers, and a breakdown in both communication and credibility will disappear or at least be minimized.

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