This year, our company implemented a program to reinforce our company’s four core values— Communication, Commitment to Excellence, Service, and Relationships — within our team.
We break each core value into action statements (behaviors) called “Fundamentals.” Each week, someone on the team owns a Fundamental, and they are responsible for instilling it across the organization, starting with a Sunday Fundamental kickoff email.
I’ve already written about the Fundamentals related to three of our four core values: Communication, Commitment to Excellence, and Service.
In this post, I’ll share the Fundamentals related to our Relationships core value.
- Foster relationships with clients and associates
- Be a team player
- Incorporate the human element
- Ensure messaging is in alignment with our customers’ brand and voice
Below is some insight our team has shared.
Four Fundamentals of Business Relationships
Fundamental #1 – Foster Relationships with Clients and Associates
#Strella team members are used to working online. However, many of our clients do not live in an online world. Some are not used to working with people outside of their company, especially those they have never met — and may never meet — in person. This is why fostering relationships is a must. And just because we are accustomed to working online, that doesn’t mean we can’t further our relationships with clients and team members by finding small ways to enhance our interactions, even if is by a pay statement.
#Strella’s core values speak perfectly to both client and associate relationships.
Client Relationships – Clients are people, too. Relationships will not work without mutual respect and kindness. If you know someone hasn't been feeling well or is dealing with a family issue, send them a quick email and ask how they are doing. If something new and exciting is happening in their business, send them a note to say, “Congratulations.”
Team Relationships – Because we are a small team at #Strella, we rely heavily on each other to get the job done. It’s helpful to know who everyone is and their function in the company so that we can pitch in when someone is sick, has a family emergency, or encounters a work conflict. We have a great group of people with shared values.
Fundamental #2 – Be a Team Player
Many early homes, cities, and civilizations were built without foundations. Because structural foundations are hidden below the surface, people did not understand the integrity and strength a foundation could provide. As a result, regardless of how well-built, buildings were often destroyed easily back then.
Fortunately, today we now recognize and understand stabilization dynamics and appreciate that nothing significant can endure without a proper foundation. I believe the same is true for each of us and the people and organizations we interact with. Effective teams understand the importance of developing a foundational base rooted in things like trust and cooperation.
Creating a stable base is critical in all aspects of life — from business to sports to family and more. It begins with how we choose to show up in all aspects of our lives. Are we interested in our own welfare or the success of the team and organization? My husband loved being in the military, and he often says, “In the military, we give medals to people who are willing to sacrifice themselves so others may gain. Unfortunately, too often in business, bonuses are given to people who are willing to sacrifice others so that the shareholders gain.”
As a group, team, or company, we may have professional capabilities, capacity, and skilled people, but it’s a commitment to teamwork that fosters a culture of belonging and value.
When each team member is willing to put their teammates first and sacrifice for the good of the team, remarkable things happen. I believe that all of you are leaders who are eager to stretch, serve, and sacrifice for the good of others and the benefit of the team.
Fundamental #3 – Incorporate the Human Element
Because of social media, brands can now connect with customers and build lasting relationships like never before.
Here are some ways I include the human element in my work:
- Talk in a casual and friendly way
- Ask questions and engage in the discussion
- Offer a behind-the-scenes look
- Showcase employees, contractors, vendors, and clients
Personally, I like to know there is a face behind the curtain of a business. I don’t want all corporate, stiff-upper-lip posts from a business or service provider I frequent. I want to know the people behind the company.
For example, I recently switched to a new hairstylist. I had never been to the salon before, and I wanted to see some examples of her work. I immediately went to her Facebook page and was delighted to see candid group “ussies” and goofy faces intertwined with photos of the salon’s work. It was such a relief to know what kind of environment I would be walking into.
When you’re trying something new, there is always a certain level of nervousness because you never know what to expect. Whether it’s a hairstylist, a financial planner, a daycare center, or a new store, we want to know where we are headed.
By incorporating the human element in our work and for our customers, we create a level of comfort and confidence for future customers.
Fundamental #4 – Ensure Messaging Is in Alignment with the Customer’s Brand and Voice
In a nutshell – it’s not all about you!
Before jumping in with a new client, there must be communication to understand the new partnership and expectations on both sides. It’s also critical to invest time and energy to understand the industry, the client’s specific target audience, and goals. Through listening and research, you can begin to align your work with the customer’s brand and voice.
Investigative questions to ask a client should include:
- Would you like your social media to be statements with “I” or “we?”
- Who is your target audience, including demographics by geography, gender, age, and industry?
- Regarding goals: Are you aiming for brand awareness, thought leadership, increased traffic to your website, or more online engagement?
- What do you like and dislike about what your competitors are doing?
Fortunately for us, we have extensive guidelines for each client. How many times have you read the guidelines for the accounts you work on? I highly recommend you review them all this week because they get updated occasionally. It is impossible to absorb and remember every detail about each account by reading its guidelines just once.
Sometimes, the road is a bit bumpy at the beginning of a new client relationship because they don’t always know what they want until they see it (or don’t see it). Don’t take it personally when feedback is less than positive. Listen harder to hear their voice, and soon you’ll be speaking loud and clear, representing their brand in a great way.
Core Values Establish Fundamentals, and Fundamentals Dictate Culture
“We can change culture if we change behavior.” ~ Dr. Aubrey Daniels, Founder of ADI
Change can be difficult, especially when it involves adapting our behaviors. However, it becomes an easier and more fluid process when we have clear core values and use Fundamentals as our guideposts to fulfill them. By sharing how Fundamentals support our four #Strella core values and strengthen our company culture, I hope that I have inspired you to think about how you might embrace the concept in your business.
Your turn: Which of the Fundamentals we talked about in this post resonate most with you? Leave a comment to share your thoughts!
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