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Are Values Baloney?
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What happens when motives other than profit drive a company?

"It is possible to make major changes at your company if people have a real reason to believe."

How can today's companies break the bad habits of bureaucracy and inertia? They can do it by giving their customers and employees reasons to believe in them.

Stand for something!

Ber Pieper, president of the multi-billion dollar, Houston-based construction firm Brown & Root says, "When I was told we needed a mission statement, I thought it was just a lot of MBA jargon, but,
it's been a powerful tool to get our people working and moving in the same direction."

Faced with a relentless recession, product challenges from every port, and, some say, a disheartened workforce, visionary leaders are learning how to fire up their employees' enthusiasm. They're redesigning any traditionally top-heavy structures and replacing them with employee-empowering designs that allow everyone to work together toward common goals.

A statement of values doesn't automatically make a company successful. You have to work hard to get everyone to hear and believe the message. Management expert Ken Blanchard says, "It should be evident in everything from the way the receptionist answers the phone to the way top management conducts strategic planning."

The Holt example

One of these companies is The Holt Company of Texas. After some difficult soul-searching in the corporate ranks, the management team established a set of core business values and embarked on a path that stressed honesty, long-term growth and true collaboration with employees and customers. Once the values were defined, a great deal of time and energy was spent spreading the word and initiating changes that proved management was behind the program.

Larry Mills, vice president of human resources for Holt, says, "We've become a better company, whether you're measuring productivity, profits or employee happiness. Ten people now get behind every boulder, or problem, instead of five people standing around arguing about it, afraid to act!"

Others joining ranks

Holt isn't alone. Voice and data communications giant Norstan, Inc., established a new set of values that emphasized ethics, responsiveness and profitability (in that order). "We realized we had to put employees and customers first. If you take care of them and act with integrity in all your dealings, profits will follow," explains CEO Erv Kamm.

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