There are thousands of books out there on team building and performance, but very few cover a key element that can be a lifesaver when companies or teams are under major pressure or going through a crisis or intense shift- having a Company ‘Code of Honor’.
Because it seems that dealing with major pressure is now becoming more of a norm for most firms having a Code of Honor can make all the difference between surviving, sinking, and even thriving.
A Code of Honor is simply writing a few steadfast rules your team agrees to ALWAYS abide by, and especially when differences of opinion arise, often in the heat of the battle. When everyone is stressed and under the gun, and without a Code of Honor, team members tend to make up their own rules or assumptions about to handle crises, which can be detrimental to the team and the company.
One caveat: It’s not enough to have a clear set of agreements or a code. Team members have to fully understand the code and commit themselves to it and respect the code when times get tough. It’s easy to sing when you win, but when things seem to be falling apart having a clear set of values in place to allow your company to bounce back fast is essential to staying ahead of the game.
When created in the right spirit, a Company Code of Honor becomes the heart and soul of the team or company. It should underpin your company core values and helps foster the positive experience your team, customers, and other stakeholders will want to have in dealing with the company. In fact, creating a solid Code of Honor is a fundamental, perhaps these days even essential part of creating a healthy culture for an organization to succeed.
Having a clear Code of Honor is an excellent way to create accountability and is a powerful statement of who you are and what your organization stands for because it brings out the best in people.
I came across this simple, yet powerful business strategy from a mentor, Blair Singer. Blair is a good friend and advisor to Robert Kiyosaki, the author of the best seller book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. Using Blair’s strategy, I have helped CEOs in my coaching programs develop and implement simple Codes of Honor to help them clarify and systemize their business processes to bring out the best in their team members. This has always led to reinvigorating these CEOs personally with the bonus of energizing their teams to reach further to achieve their collective mission and goals.
At Energized CEOs we often compare what we do to what great sports coaches do for their world-class teams. For example, it’s commonplace for Codes of Honor to be in place and used by a lot of professional sports teams. Large corporate teams also have enjoyed the benefits of designing and following their own unique Codes of Honor to grow into the impactful businesses they have, likely inspired by the US Marines approach to living and operating at the highest of standards for greatly effective team work.
A Code of Honor has to be created by all team members through open dialogue and respect for one another. It can’t be something you just list out and push onto the team. I have worked for companies who just force their corporate values on employees. The end result is that most employees pay lip service to the values, but don’t really believe them and certainly don’t follow them when a crisis comes up. Instead, an excellent and functioning Code of Honor has to involve every team member plus any new members coming into the team or company so that everyone is aware that a Code exists and what it means to follow it.
Stay tuned for my next article on how to start the process of creating a properly working Code of Honor. One article on this theme is not enough to do this important topic justice.
However, here is a good starting point for now. Think about your Code as a list of Agreements. It need not be more than 10 agreed rules.
Here is an example of an effective Code of Honor. Can your team relate to many of the points?
1. Never abandon a team mate in need
2. Celebrate all wins
3. Show up on time for meetings
4. Never let personal stuff get in the way of the company mission
5. Be loyal to the team
6. Be willing to “Call Out” a team mate gently but firmly and “be called out” if any part of the code is broken
7. Don’t make excuses when things don’t go to plan
8. Everyone is part of the sales team!
9. Be resourceful – find solutions before dumping on others
10. Be Responsible – refrain from blaming and complaining
So what’s vital to your team? You and your team have to work that out over time. Ideally have someone from the outside of the firm, who knows about this strategy facilitate the team member discussions to manifesting a successful outcome.
One key part to this Code is the ability to call someone out if they are not playing to your Code. This can be a tough one as none of us likes to feel humiliated. However, the Code is not effective unless team members can be part of the solution to keeping the quality of work up to the expected standards. If a rule in your Code of Honor gets breached it takes the team down a notch if it is NOT called out because not doing so implies you don’t mean what you say. All ‘Honor’ therefore goes out the window.
Working in this way has the tendency to raise the energy and empower your team and company. And after all, at any given time the CEO is the leader and determines whether there is either high energy or low energy to get things done in your business.
To thrive and enjoy your business’ journey requires ways to raise the energy of the team and having a solid Code of Honor goes a long way towards fulfilling this desire.
So what about you? Have you already got a Code of Honor? Want help creating one? Drop us a note and let us know as we’d love to support you.