A guiding star during the coronavirus: your company’s values


Highlights of history

  • Having a cultural “true north” is a business necessity
  • Let your core values ​​guide tough decisions
  • Customers and Employees Reward Values-Based Decisions

Leaders face constant disruption.

To keep their employees focused, strong leaders begin every decision-making process by highlighting their organization’s mission or purpose (why their organization exists) and its culture and values ​​(how work is done).

Starting every decision this way not only refines decisions, but also creates a template for strategic decision making.

Examples of this type of leadership have been featured in the news in recent weeks.

Portillo hot dogs have seen their revenues drop 20% due to the pandemic – and CEO Michael Osanloo is proud of that number, given the circumstances.


He calls this “relative success” in today’s business climate:

“Osanloo was impressed with how his team responded to all the pivots that were required across the brand footprint. They will roll out initiatives in the morning and put them into operation in each store in the afternoon. . “

How did they do that? “Our core values ​​are family, greatness, energy and fun,” said Osanloo, “and these concepts have guided everything we have done as an organization.” So, for example, when stores in certain markets weren’t forced to close for dinner, Portillo’s did it anyway – because it was “the right thing to do” based on their values.

Ultimately, Osanloo stresses that building on these core values ​​is a key success factor for his team. “If you’re an organization that doesn’t have a ‘true north’ in values, you don’t know exactly what your goals are, and that’s going to hurt you.”

This is good advice. So, do you know what are the core values ​​of your organization?

Only 41% of U.S. employees Strongly Agree that they know what their company stands for, and only 27% Strongly Agree that they believe in their organization’s values.

Culture is a huge opportunity for most leaders.

Clearly defined organizational values ​​underpin your workplace culture. They are essential to employee and customer engagement, but only 26% of American workers believe their organization always delivers on promises it makes to customers.

The decisions your organization makes today will affect how people view your business for years to come.

In a Gallup case study, a financial institution increased its bottom line by 85% over a five-year period by embarking on a process of cultural transformation that began with clarifying its core values.

The customer was unstable after the Great Recession. The challenges included senior leadership rotation, a demanding global operating environment, and systems overwhelmed by rapid growth in new markets.

Gallup analyzes determined that the customer must begin by developing their organizational culture, beginning by defining a set of core values. The client then used these values ​​to guide all organizational efforts going forward, from their talent management strategy to their employee recognition practices and customer experience programs.

Identifying and clarifying an organization’s values, purpose, mission and vision is essential to the development of its unique cultural identity. This identity allows business leaders to focus on these shared values ​​when making decisions. While this matters every day, it is especially important during times of disruption.

Leaders, it’s time to showcase and strengthen your organization’s identity.

  1. Start with your organization’s mission and purpose to establish a clear set of corporate values.

As a leader in times of crisis, your followers look to you for confidence, compassion, stability, and hope. They want to know that you have a clear plan of action for everything. So remind them of your business purpose and core values, and explain how you will use those values ​​to guide the tough choices you need to make along the way.

  1. Use your organization’s identity to guide your decisions, including how you manage your workforce, your customers, and your contributions to the community.

Now, when making decisions, look at your values ​​for inspiration. When making difficult choices, rely on your identity and organizational values ​​to guide the “why” behind what you decide to do.

  1. Communicate about the decisions you have made, highlighting Why you did them, emphasizing the mission of your organization and the values ​​you stand for.

Allow your values ​​to be the strong support that everyone needs in times of crisis by reminding your teams of them in regular communications. This is a huge opportunity, as only 23% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization’s values ​​to their day-to-day work.

Is well-being a fundamental value for your organization? If so, cite this value as an inspiration for office closures, work-from-home policies, or the decision to continue payroll despite being absent from work for an interim period. Explain how each of these choices relates to protecting the well-being of your employees, customers, or community. Do you offer free content so that the community has access to essential information? Make it clear in your communications: the offer is about the well-being of the community (not marketing).

The decisions your organization makes today will affect how people view your business for years to come. When these decisions are based on company values, your organization clearly strengthens and communicates its identity.

And your customers aren’t the only ones who remember the choices you make now. Your employees too, including your future hires. These lasting memories will follow and potentially define your brand for years to come.

Make big decisions you’ll remember after COVID-19:


Nate Dvorak is a predictive analytics researcher at Gallup.

Jessica Schatz is a content editor at Gallup.

Shannon Mullen O’Keefe contributed to this article.

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