Two Core Values Questions to Avoid Crisis - Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

We’ve all observed the events of the recent past at both Wells Fargo and United Airlines. I’ve been trying to decipher the facts from the attacks while attempting to make sense of what seems to be core values gone awry. Shareholders, analysts, media, and the general public have been taking pot shots at both companies. No wonder as they appear to lack any customer-centric core values and have ONLY what seems to be reverence for the almighty dollar.

At Wells Fargo, millions of fake accounts were opened to meet sales quotas, accruing service charges from customers who were unaware they had these fake accounts opened in their names.

We have all seen the video of the United Airline’s customer being dragged off the plane after refusing to give up his seat.

Two questions come to mind that should guide you on what to do within your own company. Consider these questions to make sure your core values are lived each and every day, fully and correctly.

  • Who is responsible for making sure your company lives and breathes your company’s core values? In all organizations, that person is the head of the company. He needs to live them, communicate them, make sure methods and practices align with them, and then reward those who live them, therefore he also needs to punish those who violate them. There is no way around this. Core values start at the top, and the shareholders of Wells Fargo seem to agree. They hammered the board in last week’s shareholder meeting and support votes, which you can read all about here. If the leader of your organization doesn’t live your company’s core values, then those values simply don’t exist.


  • Do your business processes, methods, and practices make it easy for your team to live the core values? Apparently not at United Airlines. I know a number of people who work for the airline. They are great, loving, caring individuals who do their jobs well. I’ll bet most United Airlines personnel try hard to live the core values of the company. Knowing the procedures the staff was expected to follow in this highly publicized situation, the question must be asked. Would it have been easy for any of them to do something different than what ended up happening? It appears that there was no alignment between their core values and this particular company process. Processes and people have to be aligned with core values. The key word in that phrase is “and.”  At least it appears that the CEO, after initially bungling things, is taking firm actions to create alignment between the people AND processes and the airline’s core values.

If you are the leader of your organization, and you ask yourself those two questions regularly, you should do okay with these things. If not, then you should expect trouble.

Help with defining your core values, communicating them, and making sure they live within your organization is available. A Gazelles coach like myself is a good resource for accomplishing these tasks, and it’s an integral part of creating an effective strategic plan. It’s something I help my clients with all the time. Be happy to help.