How Business Coaches Help a Business Create Operating Values - dummies

How Business Coaches Help a Business Create Operating Values

By Marie Taylor, Steve Crabb

Values are about how individuals behave in a business, individually and collectively and business coaches are a part of this. They’re a key component in terms of business ethics, social responsibility, corporate governance, and reputation. Although they’re more than just attitudes, they need to be consistent with the attitudes the business presents.

Attitudes flow from values, and misalignment can create real business problems. When customers, staff, investors, and the general public experience a mismatch, they complain, take out grievances, and hold the organization to account.

When working with companies on values, be clear about what they’re signing up to. Make sure they’re prepared to be held accountable for the behaviors that flow from their values statements.

Coaching business leaders to identify values

Here’s a process for coaching a group of business leaders to identify values:

  1. Identify the locus of control.

    Ask the group, “Where do you place your control? Do you believe that you have the power to control the majority of this business, or is the business mostly determined by other people, by other sources of power and influences outside of this room?”

    If members of the group don’t believe they have the control over most of what they do and how the business conducts itself, either you’re with the wrong group of leaders or the leaders you’re with see themselves as followers not leaders.

    Assuming they do recognize that they have control over how the business relates to the world, you want to help them articulate the limits of their control and understand who holds them to account and how. You might use a stakeholder mapping exercise to help them here.

    You want to explore the locus of control to help the client determine what her boundaries are and what she feels she has control over.

  2. Walk the group through the three-part “what do you want” elicitation, which focuses on the business.

    Do it slowly by asking the following three questions repeatedly, leaving lots of room for the group to answer:

    • “What do you want for this business?” Repeat this question periodically over a 10- to 15-minute period.

      Record the group’s answers on a whiteboard, flip chart, or laptop linked to a projector — somewhere visual so everyone can see it. Then ask the second question.

    • “What do you really want for this business?” Repeat this question periodically over about a 20-minute period, depending on the group size and the time you have.

      Again, record the answers as they emerge. Finally, ask the third question.

    • “What do you really, really want for this business?” Repeat this question periodically over about a 20-minute period.

      Continue to record the answers. If you need to, prompt the group with specific follow-up questions such as, “What do you want for the people in this business? For your staff? Your customers? Your shareholders? The end users of your goods and services?”

      Take the answers in this elicitation without commenting on them or having the group discuss them — just share. It’s important to get the responses out on the table before you coach the group around them.

  3. After you’ve elicited as many answers from the group as possible, work to consolidate the content with the group. Coach them through the range of responses, get them to talk about their answers, and ask them to agree on five to ten nominalizations.

    You’re going to work with these nominalization to create a set of values.

    For example, these might be the answers for a client:

    We want: We really want: We really, really want:
    To be the best cinema cafe in Devon For people to love our theme nights Recognition
    To have top, current films that make customers want to make a night of it and buy cocktails and a meal To create a beautiful experience that

    is accessible to everyone

    Heart
    Repeat visitors who are loyal To be recognized by the industry as a top venue Creativity
    To be recognized by the industry as a top venue
  4. Take the nominalizations one by one and explore them with group questions.

    The idea is to flesh out some values statements.

  5. Keep going across all the nominalizations; then refine them into five to seven values statements.

    You can adapt this elicitation process if you want to walk around different aspects of the business or focus in one area or on one stakeholder group. For example, you can ask:

    • What do you want for your customers?
    • What do you want for your products?
    • What do you want for this marketing team?
    • What do you want for this new work environment?

Fleshing out values statements

You want to flesh out values statements that articulate how clients will do business and meet those aspects of what they really, really want to create. For example, you may ask on recognition:

  • What do you want to be recognized for? The quality of the customer experience, the creativity of the building, and the retention of our customers.
  • What does recognition look like to others? For customers and staff, internal rewards; for the business, the small cinema award, the leisure award for the Florida region, the Miami four-star restaurant rating.
  • How would you know that the business was being recognized? Specifically, what would you notice? Staff photos in reception, local PR stories reporting staff and customer awards, award trophy, state certificate, and local PR.
  • Who and what would be recognized? The whole experience that customers enjoy, the chef and restaurant for the quality of our food.
  • How will you recognize staff and customers? Create a staff-member-of-the-month scheme and give public acknowledgment (photo in reception and additional staff discount for the month); give loyal customers upfront discount (buy five tickets, get a sixth free); create theme nights and give a free meal for two to the winner.

You can then generate some values that might support those outcomes. For example:

  • We create a great quality experience for our customers from when they arrive to beyond their leaving.
  • Our customers are our community, and we exist to serve them.
  • We create a fun place to work where staff are acknowledged publicly for creating a service people love.

Organizations don’t just create a set of values and philosophy in a one-hour business meeting. They go through a process to get everything right.