How can you differentiate your business from the many others that offer similar products and services in your market? How can you earn “provider of choice” status with your customers by being in their “top 10%” of providers? It isn’t about a flashy new marketing campaign or a spin on what your product or service does. It isn’t, in fact, about external communication at all – at least, not at first.

The secret to creating a sustainable business that creates passionate employees who exceed performance standards and consistently wow your customers is embedded in the graphic at left, which we call the “Performance Values Matrix.” This model is the core of Blanchard’s proven, award winning culture change process.

This model comes from Jack Welch, who, while President/CEO of General Electric, was the first corporate senior leader to formally hold leaders and managers in his organization accountable for both performance and values.

The model is a simple X-Y graph with the vertical axis representing PERFORMANCE and the horizontal axis representing the VALUES MATCH. The quadrants represent the four possible combinations of high or low performance and high or low values match.

Starting Point: Clear Expectations

The first step is to ensure that expectations are clearly defined and agreed to by all parties. That means all employees have formal performance plans that outline project, goal, and task expectations and those expectations are agreed to. In addition, it means that values are defined in tangible, behavioral terms, and those expectations are also agreed to.

The best place for staff (leaders, managers, supervisors, employees – everybody) to exist on this model is the upper right quadrant. That means they are meeting or exceeding performance standards and are consistently demonstrating desired valued behaviors. You should wildly praise and recognize the high performance, values aligned players that reside here!

A not-so-good place for staff to reside is the lower left quadrant. If they are here, it means these players fall short of performance expectations and do not demonstrate desired valued behaviors. What should you do with the “low performance/low values match” player? Lovingly set them free. Or, as WD-40 President Gary Ridge says, “Share those employees with your competition!” It is unlikely that time and energy spent to raise skills (to improve performance) and coach to modify behavior (to increase the values match) will pay off in the short run (or long run). It’s best to let these folks go work somewhere else. “Lovingly” set them free because the way you treat staff – those that are leaving and those that are staying – says more about your values than any published statement.

The bottom-right quadrant offers an interesting challenge. What should you do with the values-led players who are unable to perform? Train them, build skills, and even shift their roles to leverage their talents as required. You don’t want to lose the values-match! If they are unable to consistently perform in any role, then you need to lovingly set them free.

The upper left quadrant is where the most damaging players reside. The high performance/low values match players are poison in your organization. They exceed performance expectations (good!) while demonstrating a very different set of values from those you desire (bad!). What must you do with these players? Lovingly set them free. As fast as you can. Their existence in your organization erodes leader integrity and trust among staff and customers.

Accountability for both performance and values can occur only after expectations (for both) are clear and agreed to. It takes intentional effort to build the necessary foundation for applying this model and creating the high performance, values-aligned organization.

Once you have embedded the desired values and are delivering consistent performance, your customers will become a tremendous positive word-of-mouth marketing force for your business.

Client Successes: Profit, Service, Passion

Our culture change clients have enjoyed hard dollar benefits from our proven process, including increased profits, efficiency, product quality, employee engagement, and customer service rankings. They have also enjoyed reduced turnover and reduced conflict across their work environment.

To what extent does your organization hold staff accountable for both performance AND values? Add your thoughts to the comments section below.

How can we help you create a high performance, values aligned culture?

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: Good Comes First (2021) and The Culture Engine (2014).
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