Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo (ex-ACK-qwee-o), a workforce consultancy building cultures, employer brands & talent strategies. She got her first W-2 at 14 and hasn’t stopped working or thinking about the way people work ever since. Follow her @SusanLaMotte.
Every company wants to be cool in some way — more specifically, be known for something: a great place to work, a cool thing to be part of, a place people brag about joining. That’s where the values come in.
Whether valuable or not (pun intended), core values are the hot topic when it comes to culture. You have to have them. And whether you’re Toms Shoes, Whole Foods or Teach for America, your values set the stage for your business.
While values and culture creation is the first step, it’s not the most important. Enter work rules.
What Are Work Rules?
“Work rules” is a term we’ve developed here at exaqueo. Work rules are a way to make what a company values real and hold employees accountable. You can have the best list of core values ever, but if you don’t hold employees accountable and align the way you do business to them, they don’t mean anything.
Here’s how it works:
Take one of Whole Foods’ core values: “supporting team member excellence and happiness.” Sounds good, right? But what exactly does that mean? How is that manifested in the day to day operations of a Whole Foods store?
It could mean personal support — doing right by each other when it comes to learning and development, lots of time off, special dispensation for family needs, stipends for personal interests. Or, it could be about the business — supporting team members who need help stocking shelves or find themselves overwhelmed with a line of customers at customer service.
You Have to Define Your Values
Specifically, what do they look like in practice? And at Whole Foods, this particular value is focused more on workplace happiness than happiness outside of work.
Nothing wrong with that — in fact, their clarity is commendable. As an current or future employee it’s clear what they mean by happiness. I can expect very fair wages. I shouldn’t expect extra time off.
Another example of a value many companies might have is “customer service.” But what kind of customer service is valued?
That’s where work rules come in. Maybe the focus is on deep customer relationships and problem solving. Or it could be about fast service, getting customers served efficiently and correctly. Either way, work rules help you better define what great performance looks like in your organization, and that makes hiring and performance management better. And it helps your company stay focused.
If you’re wondering if it’s worth it, if there’s real, monetary value in this, let me know. I’ll send you a real-world example from one of our clients.
If you need the motivation to get started, ask yourself how important talent is to growth.
There’s your answer.
This post originally ran on the author’s blog.