Staff coming together on core values.
Running a business

Testing your core values during a crisis: 5 questions every organization should be asking

During a crisis, it’s easy to fall into a state of panic.

But so far, 2020 has felt like one significant crisis after the next. We’re only halfway through the year and we are certainly in a different world compared to 2019. For many of us, we are left wondering what will happen next.

So, with all that’s going on, how are we going to get through it?

More than ever, now is the time to focus on your core values—as a person, as a friend and family member, and as a business owner, employee, or team member.

Everything that has been going on so far this year has me thinking hard about my own mission, my own values, and the values within our organization.

Core values exist precisely for situations like these. When we go through a large crisis, or several at once like is currently happening in the United States, we are forced to examine whether or not we really believe in the things we say we believe in. For example, if one of your core values is to support your fellow team members, are you willing to do that even when times get tough? Or is that core value just corporate jargon?

While I don’t have all of the answers, I am listening and have hopes that moving forward, businesses and executives take a deep look at their values as foundational, and that they carry a greater sense of urgency for equality and anticipating crises by proactively leaning into those values. There will always be challenges in the world—some are going to be minor, and some are going to be big. The question is, are you actively thinking about how to keep moving forward in a positive, effective way, regardless of what obstacles present themselves.

Here are some of the things we are thinking about right now as an organization, and questions you can ask to ensure you are always returning back to your own core values.

1. Are you staying true to your mission statement?

Our mission statement here at Place Technology is, “We build software that simplifies business, unifies teams, and empowers companies to achieve incredible success.”

What has really struck me about COVID-19 is how relevant our mission statement is to the position our company is in during such a difficult time. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been thinking hard about how we can best support not only our current customers, but businesses everywhere—by providing our flagship product, PlaceCPM, at a discount, and by providing access to non-profit organizations in need.

Staying true to your mission statement can take on a variety of forms though—so long as you are living its purpose.

2. Even in a crisis, how can you continue to take risks and think big?

One of our primary core values as a company is, “Build products that we believe in. We obsess over the quality and functionality of our products. We push ourselves and each other to deliver products our customers love.”

Because we use our own products, and we’re passionate about the tools we’re building for businesses, this core value really resonates right now. Financial forecasting is crucial to navigating crises. What’s going to happen when hurricane season hits? What’s going to happen during the election at the end of the year? Planning doesn’t have to mean preparing for the worst outcome. Planning simply means planning for likely outcomes, great outcomes, and worst-case outcomes—and knowing how you’re going to manage your way through any one of these scenarios.

Unless you are prepared in this way, you will never be able to think beyond the day-to-day stresses, and get back to a place where you can start taking calculated risks again.

3. What’s truly holding you back from making progress?

Another one of our core values is, “Get it done. We will overcome obstacles, find solutions, and deliver exceptional results.”

Part of managing a crisis is acknowledging all the things outside of your control. None of us can control when healthcare companies will have a vaccine for the coronavirus. None of us can control the state of our politics, or how bad the weather will be a few months from now. All we can control are our own lives, and the way we approach our responsibilities, our work, our relationships, and our daily habits.

For example, businesses that have never had remote workforces before have suddenly had to shut down their offices and move remote. That was an obstacle. The difference this time, however, was that it wasn’t optional. Either the business shut down completely, or it moved remote and continued delivering results for its clients and customers.

It’s these sort of, “Get it done,” moments that really force people to grow, and for businesses to adapt and evolve.

4. Are you being transparent and honest right now? Or are you hiding?

Another core value of ours is, “We employ radical candor. We care personally and challenge directly at the same time.”

In other words, we work hard to give feedback that is direct but also communicated in a way that shows it’s coming from a place of care and a desire to improve together.

During times like these, I firmly believe radical candor and transparency are crucial qualities of a successful organization. When there is uncertainty in the world, people want to know what’s really going on. If the company is struggling, they want to feel informed. If they aren’t doing a good job, they want to know why so they can fix it. All of us have doubts in our minds about how the future is going to play out, and we’d rather be on the same team than feel like we’re being kept in the dark.

That way, everyone can all move forward together.

5. Things might be difficult, but are you still enjoying the journey?

During difficult times, this is always easier said than done.

Most companies say, “We are proud of our fun, positive workplace,” or entice new employees by talking up how social, positive and friendly everyone is. The real question, though, is whether that culture remains intact during times of stress. Here in Texas we are seeing a huge rise in new cases of COVID-19 and it can be very easy to fall into thought patterns of pessimism, negativity, and being overly focused on problems instead of solutions.

This is why I believe it’s so important to question whether your core values hold true during good times and bad—or if they only hold true when times are good.

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