Time for a “Real” Litmus Test

by Kraig Ware, VP of Operations, TYGES International

Your company has them…mission statements, value systems, core beliefs, etc. These important principles are critical to a company’s identity as they define the culture and overall goal as a business.

I am sure that when you came through your initial training with your current company that these items were recited, you signed off on them, and perhaps during the initial tour of your facility, you might have even been shown the “velvet rope protected” and “framed” copy outside the CEO’s office. Here are two questions for you:

  1. Other than that, is there proof of your mission, values, and core beliefs during your daily business activities?
  2. More important than your perception, “What about your customers?

I can still remember during my Middle School Chemistry Class using Litmus Strips to identify different solutions. It was a pretty simple process, simply dip the Litmus strip into the “unknown” solution and then remove. At that point, the Litmus strip would change colors. From there, you would compare the color to a chart providing you with a pretty accurate idea of the acidity or alkalinity of the solution.

Your Mission Statement, Values, and Core Beliefs are no different from the Litmus Strip. Neither tell you much, until a “real” Litmus Test is performed.

So how do you perform a “Real” Litmus Test on your Mission Statement, Values, or Core Beliefs? Simple, you need social proof that they exist. Proof is not that they are written on a wall, posted on a website, recited in training, or told during a coaching session…they must be observed by you, your team, and your customers. At TYGES we have this defining language as well…one such value statement is:

Respect and value the team above yourself.

Sounds pretty simple, right? It’s the “golden rule” in a business setting. However, what if one of your top sales persons or one of your top producers wasn’t a team player? I mean, you could just look the other way and enjoy the short-term bottom line results OR you could come alongside, meet them where they are, and try to align them with your company’s culture. What if that is not successful? What then?

When I first came on board at TYGES, our team was faced with this exact scenario. A little background, I personally knew the owner of TYGES for about 15 years prior to working with him. I knew where he stood personally, I had recited the value statements and signed off on them; yet, it was time for a “real” Litmus Test.  I had just gotten back from a visit of one of our satellite offices. During the trip, I along with some other team members had observed some things that did not align with our values as a company. When we got back, I can still remember saying during a follow-up meeting:

We can look the other way and enjoy the “short-term” success to our bottom line OR we can stand on our Value System and do what is right for our team

What happened next was vital. Not so much for the individual of concern; yet, for the entire team and the social proof that was needed to be clear that our Mission Statement, Values, and Core Beliefs were not just words on a page; yet, the life blood of our organization. We chose not to look the other way and corrected the situation the very next week. Unfortunately, it meant we had to let a “top performer” go and to be honest, that was a very tough decision to execute. Yet, our team is all the better for it today and has become even stronger. So, what about you and your company?

I welcome your feedback and your stories of successfully performing a “real” Litmus Test where it counts the most…social proof.  Take a second and answer the question below, “Would your company pass a “real” Litmus Test?”  Also, I would enjoy connecting with you on LinkedIn and at Twitter you can find me at @SKraigWare, as we continue to pursue excellence in our business and in our lives. Learn more about TYGES at www.TYGES.com, on Twitter @TYGESInt, or here on our blog.  Our mission is simple:

We’re here to make good things happen to other people.

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