If you've ever visited a cliff known for its echo effect, you'll remember easing to the edge, taking a huge breath, and – with all the power and volume you can muster – shouting out. Perhaps it was "Helllloooo!" You'll also know the anticipation of waiting for that moment – your own voice booming back that very same "Helllloooo." But, what if there were no echo, no return of all your energy and effort? You'd be disappointed, you might even feel cheated. Imagine how disappointing to muster your big room voice, send out the message with great energy, wait...wait for it...and then discover that your voice had not returned. How disappointing would that be?
Every company leadership team I've worked with claims to have echo mountain, that their efforts echo their values. They tell you that they have the ideal of team play, but they fail to mention that they don't have the fortitude, the habit, or the discipline. That's the way it is in many of the companies that I've worked with regarding core values. They all say they want honesty, truth, integrity, to take care of people, etc. Many can give you a booklet with values and vision proudly displayed on the cover. Some will remind you in meetings. Most will never attempt to really exercise any of their values. But the number of fast growing companies I work with have a resounding echo of core values lived, not rehearsed!
Gut check your team with this simple Echo Mountain test:
1. Can your senior team echo examples of your core values in the workplace? (Did they thank the individual and tie the compliment to the core value exemplified?)
2. Ask each senior team member to randomly check 3 people this coming week: “Would you share a recent example of our core values in the workplace?” A blank stare or “what are our core values?” are good indicators of core value health.
3. Can your team name one person that was hired or fired based on a core value? And, if fired, was the core value specifically stated to the team member during the process?
When you find that the core value stories are too numerous to mention, it’s time to start an annual culture book (check out Zappos). Company culture books are a great way to perpetuate your core values as you add more and more team members. It gives your company the big room voice, clearly indicates the core value message, and will reward you with the echo of a company that adheres to values!