What do you see when you look in the mirror?
As we head into the last several days of the year it's once again time to ask ourselves, "How did it go?" "Did I accomplish what I had hoped to?" "Did I adapt to challenges appropriately?" Most companies do the same thing. They review metrics, assess progress and draw conclusions. Some do annual engagement surveys with customers or employees to make sure they remain connected to their most important constituencies.
One such year-end question I find particularly helpful is, "Are you the same company today that you were a year ago?" First instinct for any company leader is to say, "No, of course not". We have grown, we have evolved, we have changed, revenues increased, our staff is more engaged, our culture is better. I hope all those things are true.
In a way, answering "No" is easy. Saying that the company is not the same as last year feels like the right answer. Probably is in many circumstances. But at this time of personal and corporate introspection, I wonder how many have to courage to answer, "Yes, we are the same company today that we were last year." It may not sound progressive, or forward thinking. It doesn't acknowledge all the incremental improvements or monumental changes but it speaks to something that even more important, values.
Values are not something that are meant to change every year, for individuals or companies. They provide the foundation of trust and the bedrock for sustainable success. A sense of shared values is what ultimately leads to consistent engagement. Year after year, values should provide the directional compass. Values should inform decisions, guide behavior and enable employees and customers to align with purpose.
Initially it might not feel right to say, "Yes, we are the same company as were last year" but it has its merits. It forces us to take stock not only of all our accomplishments but motivates us to reaffirm a commitment to company values.
Of course, I am proud of all our changes, additions, accomplishments and business achievements this past year. However, I take the most pride in being able to say, we are the same company today as when we first began. And I know, we will remain true to the same core values in the years to come.
At this reflective time of year, "What do you see when you look in the mirror?"