Principia for After-sales, Part Two

Principia for After-sales, Part Two

Today, Ryszard Chciuk continues his blogs on Principia for after-sales with part two of the series.

In Principia for After-sales and a few next posts, I am sharing my way of defining and implementing the main principles (values). This post is about the potential conflict between personal and company values, how I was writing value definitions, and the importance of constant reminding and following of the main principles.

Theoretically, every new employee joining our team brings his/her own values and his/her own life mission. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of what kind of values they are subscribed to. Thus, both they and their employer can make a mistake when signing the employment contract. But from the other side human consciousness is flexible. Hopefully, he/she will soon realize the values of the company are not in opposition to their private values or they are enough convincing to subscribe to them. And their private life missions can be realized ­– to a certain level – by working for the chosen company.

I numbered the main principles because usually, they conflict with one another. For example, which value is more important: profitability of your department or care of people and environment (it covers also safety)? What gets higher priority: integrity or profitability? If you don’t know, the right answer is indicated by the number of the principle on the list (number 1 has the highest priority).

Some time ago I learned from Start with Why by Simon Sinek that values have to be verbs. He is definitely right. I should articulate my No 1 principal “Integrity” with the sentence “Always do the right thing”. The No 2 principle should be expressed with the words “Always take care of your co-worker, customer, supplier, investor and of all kind of life”. The No 3 “Profitability” means “Not everything we do has to be profitable, but without money, we will not exist as the organization”. The No 4 “Excellence” stands for “We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do” (I use the same definition as in Enron’s statement).

On each occasion, I was explaining to my people what our main principles meant and I was using examples taken from the life of our after-sales organization. As I mentioned already in the post Future is Now – Part 2, that kind of presentation was usually taking place in the course of the introductory training. It was led not later than several weeks after starting the job. We worked out that unique training program with the kind collaboration of Impact Polka. It comprised of two sessions (two working days each). And it was mandatory for every new employee. As the opening lecturer, I presented there our department’s long-term goals (vision), the main principles (values), and our mission. Later on, the after-sales team members had to hear it again, and again. Additionally, once a year, during the annual company meeting I presented it to all employees of the dealership.

The leader must prove all the time, everything he is doing himself is up to the common, agreed, and persistently promoted principles. Employees mostly follow their leaders. Employees never follow the company values if the superiors break principles, both in a company or private life. You do not need to decorate your company cars with the team values, print it on every page of marketing brochures or curve in the stone tablets. Your customers are to recognize what are your values at every encounter with your crew. Have you ever asked your key customers what are your company values? You can be surprised when you do!

The main principles are not to be changed neither every year nor when a new manager takes over. They will be followed even if the founder of the values list has gone away. But it will happen only in companies having a very strong organizational culture. To be honest, I have not checked if the after-sales team I was in charge of in the past is still following our main principles. This is for a few reasons best known to me, not the main one is that I am not brave enough to find out.

There are plenty of potential values to be chosen. You will find five hundred examples here. As you can see these are only names of values, just words. The meaning of every value you have to define yourself. Why it is very important? I mentioned already that the set of values would make you different from the competition. Yes, they can steal a copy of your main principle’s declaration. But don’t worry, you are recognized as a better supplier of services because you have taught your people what those words really meant at their daily work. And they are following it. And your customers like it.

The main principles list should not be longer than 3-4 items. Too many values are more difficult to memorize and certainly will not be obeyed. Perhaps this is the main problem with the fulfillment of the Ten Commandments.

I have to underline: the content of the values list is not essential. After all, nobody would present himself as inhuman, unfaithful, dishonest, improvident, etc., isn’t it? The only difference between two organizations having the same set of values is how their members follow those principles.

Next time I am going to present the details about the main principles of my after-sales team.

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