Just as having a short and focused list of values gives us something to live by, providing a company with a set of core values will help indescribably when it comes to running a business, maintaining fluidity between staff, and keeping consistency between employees and customers.
For us at Easton Training Center, we define Core Values as something that you’re willing to lose friends and money over. They’re non-negotiable, and they can help make life a lot easier when it comes to making difficult judgment calls. When in doubt, we weigh the circumstance against these four values, and if even one doesn’t align, the answer becomes clear.
The above are Easton Training Center’s Core Values. These four values can mean many things to different people, but to us they set the standard in some very specific ways. At Easton Training Center, Excellence means we will never stop learning and growing. We won’t stand for bullying or any sort of action that makes someone feel demeaned. We allow people to grow at their own pace, and try our best to facilitate the best space for this growth that we can.
Trust is a loaded word when it comes to the world of combat sports – we voluntarily put ourselves in precarious situations everyday, but this willingness doesn’t mean it’s easy. Working in such close proximity to others cannot take place without an element of trust, and we need to be able to trust that our coaches, students and partners have our best interests at heart.
In a space of constant improvement, it can be easy to compare and get down on yourself (or give others a hard time) for not showing up the way you feel you should. These are battles of the ego we all face, and that is why Compassion makes up such an important quadrant of Easton Training Center’s Core Values. We want everybody, regardless of their path or place in life, to feel comfortable in our academies. We want people to feel seen, and to feel like humans when they walk through our doors and for that grace to extend onto the mats as well.
Finally, Stewardship might take the cake for holding the most weight at our academies. This is the part where we trust you, the student, to take care of the new kid in class. You’ve not only learned our values but have come to exemplify them. At Easton Training Center, this means lining up by rank and peeling down to find your training partner – higher belts working with lower belts. It means nobody comes up without bringing others up with them.
“There’s a tremendous amount of responsibility in all of us to constantly strive for these values,” says Easton Training Center Vice President Ian Lieberman. “Every day we have the opportunity to either exemplify them or to break them.”
Why we need core values
Maybe it feels tyrannical imposing very specific guidelines and you just want to be “cool,” but trust us; it doesn’t work that way. Your employees will respect you more if you stick to your guns, and your customers will be grateful. Not to mention, how will your employees know how to show up in certain situations if they don’t have an example to follow?
We’ve all had that boss that wants something this way one day and a different way the next. The lack of clarity in expectation leaves you feeling inadequate and leaves your boss feeling unheard or frustrated. Nobody wins.
Core values are like the stuffing in a teddy bear, the meat filling in a meat pie – without them, your organization will be a shell of structure and numbers, but no real pudding.
Without a structure of values, you may get people through the door, purchasing your product and coming back, but you won’t build a long-lasting company and community identity. The identity that does develop will be fractured, part solely the way its staff perceive it and part solely the way the public perceives it.
When you don’t claim your identity yourself, others will claim it for you and project it onto you.
Laying the bedrock of identity
The places that have grown and kept their magic over decades have done so due to a strong internal team and most likely strong core values. These values serve as a bedrock for everyone – a system for how to behave and show up for one another and for your customers.
In How To Grow A Culture Through Leadership, we describe how essential it is for a leader to demonstrate a quality example for others to follow. As creatures of imitation, we often learn by following the lead. The creation of a system of values for yourself and your business becomes of utmost importance when guiding others along the way.
If you identify your company’s core values and impress them upon your staff in every meeting, over time, these values will become the undertone for your whole operation. They will echo in the actions of your employees and eventually even reflect in the behavior of your members and customers – the community you draw in.
Sometimes, we don’t even recognize how a company’s core values have shaped its culture until we leave and go to a completely different place, working for somebody new. When the values are off, or lacking completely, it can feel like stepping into no-mans’ land: a wild west where anything goes. There’s no direction and no template for how to handle different situations, and worse – difficult situations. It’s dealers’ choice everyday depending on who’s working, and this can lead to a lot of dissatisfied customers.
Pick your powers
Some leaders may value Patience and Kindness while others value Truth and Efficiency. The first may let you ramble for 15 minutes about your aunt’s cat while the second will cut you off.
It may seem curt, but the second leader values time – yours and his own – and his cutting you off doesn’t communicate anything more than “Let’s move on and get to what we need to get.”
Perhaps the first leader manages a play therapy center, and the second boss directs a fast-paced news journal. Both have formed their values around the needs of their company, and use these values to teach their employees in the same vein – like the importance of patience and listening, or the importance of being efficient and concise with your words.
The values you choose will set the tone for your whole company and the standard for how others follow suit. Most importantly, they will give everyone a clear guideline to follow when it comes to hiring, firing, problem-solving, communicating, and growing.
If you’ve been running your business rogue, it may feel hard to integrate these values into your operation, but in the end the headaches you’ll save make it all worth it! Once you’ve got those values down, you can apply them to every aspect of your business and see if any parts need a makeover.