When I wrote the book and did the research for THRIVE: Turning Uncertainty To Competitive Advantage, the proven nine-step formula for thriving in uncertainty, I was completely blown away by strategy number four.

I never would have thought that one strategy, one step could be so important in helping business leaders and owners successfully navigate change and uncertainty. Nor would I have believed that every company I researched not only shared the same belief about this strategy but implemented the strategy exactly the same way.

Companies that have been in business since the late 1700’s, early 1900’s and are still in business thriving today all use this strategy.  They all believed in this strategy and successfully implemented it as a tool to help them stabilize and grow their businesses through world wars, economic depression and not one pandemic but two pandemics.

It is a strategy that can decrease your stress, increase your engagement and drive your bottom-line results. Ready to learn what it is?

One of the most difficult things you have to do when faced with change and uncertainty is making decisions. How do you know what type of decision to make when you have no idea what is going to happen? How are you supposed to know what to invest in when you do not know what will happen with the supply chain? Or what will happen with inflation? Or the impact of the mid-term elections and the list goes on. Decision making in the face of the unknown is hard.

Well, every company I researched, every single one I interviewed, shared that they used this strategy as the way to make decisions, the right decisions, when they had no idea what was going to happen in the marketplace.

The strategy? Know Your Core.  Your core values! If you are clear on who you are in the middle of an uncertain marketplace, and you are clear on who you want to be when the crisis has passed, you can use those core values to help you make the right decisions for you and your company.

See core values are like an inner voice guiding you to make clear decisions even when the future seems so uncertain.

Chick-fil-A is one of the best examples of a company that lives and breathes its core values. This fast-food restaurant chain that specializes in chicken sandwiches is flourishing because of its full and complete alignment to its company values.

You’d like to hear more? My pleasure! That response should make sense if you’ve eaten at a Chick-fil-A any time since 2001.

The company’s founder, S. Truett Cathy, and subsequent family-member leaders have taken a biblically driven approach to doing business, elevating corporate values to be their top priority. They want to make sure that their faith comes through in every decision they make. Check out the corporate purpose:

“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Take note:  There’s no mention of those tasty sandwiches or the waffle fries. At Chick-fil-A, honoring God and caring for people (inside and outside the company) are the actions that will translate into product quality and market success. Values first.

As listed on the website, the company’s core values include the following:

We’re here to serve. We keep the needs of Operators, their Team Members and customers at the heart of our work, doing what is best for the business and best for them.

 

We’re better together. It’s through teamwork and collaboration that we do our best work. We’re an inclusive culture that leverages the strengths of our diverse talent to innovate and maximize our care for Operators, their Team Members and customers.

We are purpose-driven. We model our Purpose every day, connecting our work and daily activities to our business strategy, supporting each other’s efforts to be good stewards who create positive impact on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

We pursue what’s next. We find energy in adapting and re-inventing how we do things; from the way we work to how we care for others.

By following those values, the founder of Chick-fil-A decided that his restaurants would be closed on Sundays to allow employees time for church and family. Others in the fast-food industry thought that move was absolutely insane. But Cathy looked to his values in making that decision. How could he honor God and care for people while forcing employees to work on Sundays? He stuck to his guns.

Today, Chick-fil-A is the third largest fast-food restaurant in the country by revenue (behind McDonald’s and Starbucks), despite having fewer locations than rivals Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Burger King. If you’ve ever seen the almost-constant lines at their drive-through windows, you know that revenue is coming from hordes of repeat customers.

The lesson here? Values are powerful. They send a loud message to employees and customers alike about what they can expect and what you will deliver.

So how can core values decrease stress? Increase engagement? Drive results? Well Chick fil-A show us how, but let’s dig a little deeper.

Decrease stress:  Use those core values in every decision you make. It takes the fear and confusion out of decision making.  Promoting an employee, buying new technology, expanding into a new territory. Think about using values when you hire a new employee. Ask do they match your values? Yes – retention rates increase, drama decreases and productivity goes up.

Increase engagement: core values are like a secret language that you share with your team. You understand one another. It makes sense what is important to you, and why you prioritize certain things. Core values create community with both employees and customers. The more values you share the more engaged people are, the more a part of your organization they feel. The more engaged your team is the less stress you have, and the more productive you and your team become. More productivity drives bottom line results.

Drive results: years ago, I worked with an engineering firm that had one goal – to make more money and work less. Okay that might be two goals 😊 The fastest way to get to that goal was through the core values. We looked at their entire customer base and put them through a values test. If they aligned with some or all of our values we kept them, those that did not we let go. That’s right, we fired them. The result? Decrease of almost 10-percent workload and increase of 18-percent profits.

Values are powerful.

So, if you are looking to decrease your stress, increase your engagement and drive results, take a look at your core values. The more you are aligned the more successful you will be. It is that simple!