By Paul Binsfeld, president and founder of Company Nurse LLC
This article originally appeared in BenefitsPRO.
I started Company Nurse, the premier nurse triage service for workplace injuries, with one purpose: to lessen the pain of workers’ compensation for all stakeholders. We do this every day by providing injured workers with immediate, compassionate care and providing employers, claims adjusters and investigators, TPAs, and any other stakeholders with the information they need to proceed with the workplace injury process.
And to give our customers the best experience possible, we rely on the buy-in of our own people.
That is the key to running a successful company: making what you value most part of everything you do, internally and externally. And if those core values aren’t defined, how can you expect to have a clear vision and mission? How can you create plans and strategies if you don’t even know why you’re doing what you’re doing? We learned this lesson from our business coach Jason Rush, and it has changed the course of our company’s growth and success.
Here’s how to achieve that alignment:
1. Bring your core purpose and core values to life.
Your core purpose and values are the foundation of your company because they characterize how your business is going to function every single day. If you don’t already have them defined, that’s where you need to start.
In our case, we already had our core purpose and values defined, but they needed to be brought to life for everyone in the company, not just the leadership. With our coach guiding the conversation, we shared stories that articulated how our values came into being. As we talked about them with Jason, we constructed new wording to make the values more sincere and honest – something that our whole organization could connect to individually and as a whole.
The goal of the exercise was to help everyone throughout Company Nurse understand why these core values are essential to our work and our internal processes. Once our teams started to understand the “why,” it became a lot easier for them to come on board and join us in living those values.
2. Create a company culture around those core values.
Once you have those core values in place and you’ve shared them with the team, the next step is to embed them into your company’s culture. Part of that process is making those values public and visible at all times, whether that’s a poster in the breakroom or, in our case, literally putting the writing on our walls.
Among the leadership, we understand that we set the tone for everyone else in the organization, so we make sure to do so very diligently. Every decision I make, I consult our values and make sure that my response is in line with them.
We also regularly recognize employees who are living out our core values. That goes back to the basic psychological principle of positive reinforcement: The more that employees demonstrate our core values, the more they get recognized, and the more buy-in they have. We recently expanded our standard internal recognition with the launch of a formal recognition program that honors employees both internally and externally
It’s not as easy as a snap of your fingers to build a high-performing team that operates with the values of the organization, but with some hard work and intentionality, it is achievable. And it is worth the effort.
3. Use your core purpose and core values to establish processes and relationships.
Your core purpose and values should guide everything you do: meetings, hiring practices, strategic relationships with partners and clients, and more. One of our core values is “Work together to work it out,” which has largely contributed to how we’ve built our processes and relationships.
For example, we implemented daily “huddles” where we gather for 15 minutes at the beginning of each day and share our schedules, where we are with our priorities, and what we’re working on that day. It’s also a chance to voice any places where we need help or to work out any communication kinks.
These quick, stand-up meetings, along with our strategic weekly and quarterly meetings, have boosted our team communication ten-fold and helped to break down departmental silos. Through regular meeting rhythms, we have been able to discuss issues and initiatives more freely and gain better alignment than we ever could before this process. That communication has very practical results. For example, we can better allocate resources to each department because we know what each person does on a regular basis and how that work contributes to the overall organization.
Our work with our business coach and our new communication processes have also had the effect of making everyone more open. There’s no hiding from the facts – everything is being voiced, and we have a trust among the team that we can bring anything forward without judgment or resentment.
Values are also important for establishing lasting partnerships and hiring new team members. When you find people who have similar values, you’re more likely to be on the same page about how to do business together. The same goes for a potential new team member. If you’re concerned about getting the right people on board and keeping away the wrong people, your core values can help you make the right decision every time.
4. Use your core purpose and values as a guide to set goals.
Every goal you set should stem from your values. Two of our core values are “Go the Extra Two Miles” and “Driven to Find Solutions,” which directly correlate with going above and beyond for our customers as well as with the services we provide.
At Company Nurse, we constantly find new ways to lessen the pain of workplace injuries. For example, we launched a mobile app to provide injured workers with easier access to Company Nurse. We expanded our contact center to provide multiple channels for contacting Company Nurse (including call, text, and web chat). And we offer several value-add collaborations with other services that can continue to lessen our clients’ workers’ comp pains.
Values inform how you can reach your goals genuinely and with integrity, and they can help illuminate the correct path forward. Because we are working every day from the base that is our core values, we are able to more easily build on them and set goals for the longer term.
The real proof, though, is in the overall improvement of our company as a result of putting our core values front and center. The pace of our growth has really impressed big players in the industry, and we’re now working with some of the largest insurance companies and third-party administrators in the country. Building up our communication, alignment, collaboration, and trust has contributed to opportunities to open bigger doors and go after larger clients.
Leaders, the best advice I can give is to make sure you are intentional in everything you do for your company. Your core values, core purpose, and mission will help you do that. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how that small change in thinking can reorient the trajectory of your entire business.
Paul Binsfeld is the president and founder of Company Nurse, the premier nurse triage service for workplace injuries. He has worked in the insurance industry for over 30 years, using his expertise to liaise with workers, employers, healthcare professionals, and insurance companies to make workplace injuries easier to navigate from start to finish. He is a recipient of the Business School Lausanne’s Hall of Fame Innovator Award.