Stop sacrificing values for short term wins
It's not easy to turn down ROI in favour of maintaining values, writes MediaCom's Josh Krichefski - but if we don’t have courage in our convictions industry progress will be undermined
The media industry isn’t the only sector that has seen incredible transformation over the last decade, but we have certainly been dealt our fair share of disruption in the form of new technology, the rising importance of data, the impact of AI and automation and the need to deliver more representative, inclusive and diverse ad campaigns.
In the face of such profound change, it is concerning that 80% of business leaders admitted that their companies had compromised their core values for short-term wins over the past year. This figure, from the Lighthouse Company’s Shipping Forecast, is undoubtedly a cause for concern and an indication that the long-term business values are being compromised; presumably for short-term monetary gains.
While we may be moving in the right direction when it comes to brands putting purpose at the core of their business, clearly there are still strides that need to be made to ensure these values are upheld in the face of every challenge; rather than when it can simply deliver ROI or greater profits.
What values mean in practice
The report led me to wonder why C-suite execs feel their business values are being compromised. Is it a sign that these values were never right in the first place? Or is it that implementing these values was an act of lip service, rather than a true commitment to steering the business in a certain direction?
Whatever the case, it’s clear that many have lost sight of the fact that values are genuinely vital to building a business – from the point of view of consumers, but also your employees. As the media, advertising and marketing industry continues to go through widescale disruption, much of this change is designed to make our industry a more responsible, authentic and transparent place. Something that matters to employees and consumers.
Consumer demands and expectations are constantly changing, but we need to keep up, be responsible and affect change. After all, we work in an industry which is all about engaging with people. And the people now want ethical brands, which requires strong, internal values from the company. For example, Sky’s Ocean Rescue Campaign is a great case study of how a company hasn’t had to compromise its ROI, while at the same time investing in an environmental cause that many consumers are passionate about.
Your people value values
The risk of neglecting core values goes beyond the effect on the consumer, and the bottom line. It also effects your employees, many of whom likely joined the company because of its values and purpose. But the problem is that values don’t have a hierarchy. Generally, the more senior employees will know your values; let’s face it, they were probably involved in deciding them. Yet in many cases, this is where the communication and understanding of the values stop. The trickledown effect doesn’t happen, and the values get stuck at a senior level rather than embedded into the entire business.
This may not seem important, but strong business values have a knock-on effect in so many areas – skills and talent, staffing and retention, client servicing and management, social life and culture… I could go on all day. Ultimately, it’s important we ensure every employee knows what we stand for; which will help us reach our business and industry goals, while also making every individual feel part of our success.
We need to stick to our promises
Sacrificing values for a quick quid might seem like it’s benefitting your business, but that is only a short-term benefit. By compromising values, companies in turn compromise their long-term success; and the long-term success of the industry as a whole.
At the end of the day, the media sector shouldn’t view temporary wins as the priority – rather it should be the shared values they have created from the ground up. Our industry isn't just transforming, it's becoming more and more competitive and that means it's sometimes tempting to forgo values in favour of winning a project or cost-saving on a campaign.
It isn’t easy to turn down ROI in favour of maintaining values. But if we don’t stick to our promises, have courage in our convictions and refuse to compromise on what we actually stand for, the progress made in the industry will be undermined. Therefore, as a leader, amid all the tough business decisions I’ve had to make, I’ve found that putting values above ROI has always been the smartest approach. It’s not easy, but it’s delivered the biggest long-term benefit.
Amid all the tough business decisions I’ve had to make, I’ve found that putting values above ROI has always been the smartest approach. It’s not easy, but it’s delivered the biggest long-term benefit."
For 80% of executives to say that they have compromised core business values in the last year is a reason to pause and question the reasons why. It’s not a blame game though; if we’re honest, many of us have either compromised our business, or individual, values – or have been very close to doing so. It’s easy to put down in writing what your business stands for. But the challenge is sticking with it.
Essentially, values must be the foundation of everything we do. Or else we risk failure. A business that continually goes against its values will not retain the best talent, deliver the best work and can never improve our industry. These values embody a company; they separate businesses from the persona of a traditional corporation and add that much needed human touch. After all, businesses are built up of people, and exist to serve people. So, having humans at its heart is critical.
The need for business values must also be clear to those at the top. These values aid us as we grow, and they should be a filter that lets us decide how to work, what to work on and who to work with.
In short, values, whatever form they take, must be the foundation of everything we do. If we don't stick to business values, behaviours and beliefs, we can't hope to make real difference. 2019 needs to be the year we all, as leaders, stand up for what we believe in and stick to it.
Josh Krichefski is CEO MediaCom UK