“Main Street Values” for Small Biz Success

Kimberle Seale, Business coach, author, and entrepreneur
Mar 9, 2022

Business coach, author, and entrepreneur Kimberle Seale explains how leading with your values produces measurable results.

Are your values hanging on the wall, or radiating from your people? More importantly, does it matter?

Business coach, author, and entrepreneur Kimberele Seale reveals how leading with your values produces measurable results. She explains how to develop your values, incorporate them into your business, and measure their impact.

On this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [03:30 – 12:00] How to develop values with authentic respect
  • [12:00 – 21:00] Why values attract talent, even in crisis
  • [21:00 – 26:00] Ways to incorporate values into your business
  • [26:00 – 29:00] How to measure return on values

After you listen: 

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POPS Star Bio

A few years ago, Kimberle wanted more out of life. She wanted to make better use of her skillset, provide for her family, and leave a legacy. Her love for small business led her into coaching, where she empowers leaders to live purposefully and unleash sustainable growth.


Didi: On this episode of PIVOT, a POPS show by Zenefits.

Kimberle: If you sat down and curiosity was your value and you wanted everyone in your company to be more curious, to seek more opportunities so they can problem solve better. That more opportunities will actually come to you. And you will solve problems even faster.

You’ll get projects done even faster and your revenue and your net profit will go up faster by changing your values and building it into everything. And we can measure that and we can measure the return on that value.

Didi: The people ops podcast from Zenefits, the only show dedicated to small businesses, sharing stories of pivotal people, moments. I’m your host Didi D’Errico. Do you have a secret sauce for your business? You know, those maybe three to five unique things that give you a competitive edge in the marketplace. If you do now, ask yourself another question.

Does it come at natural? To you and your people to do those things. Is it part of your company’s DNA? In this episode, Kimberle Seale, author and business coach joins me to discuss this more. She shares why having a secret sauce for your business. Isn’t enough. If it isn’t anchored in your company’s values and your personal, why.

Kimberle: How can you build respect or curiosity into your vision? You know, where you’re going three to five years from now, are you going to use curiosity to explore all the opportunities to get you to your vision? Are you going to use respect for the human and for what they love and what they’re passionate about to go after your vision?

Didi: For kimberly, the key to strategic long-term success is integrating your vision, mission, and values across every aspect of the organization. As we dig into this topic, you’ll learn how to create, embrace and evolve a values first business goals. Which leads to finding and keeping the right kind of people for a sustainable, valuable business.

To kick things off. Kimberly shares a powerful story about seeing a company’s values inaction, take a listen.

Kimberle: You wouldn’t think that a tire and oil company would make such a big impact, but I was so touched by this company. I was there getting an inspection done. And while I was sitting there, This gentleman came in and he asked the owner who I soon discovered was the person behind the desk. And he said, Hey, I’m looking for a job.

Can you help me out? I’m in a situation where I’m on work release, I’ve been on drugs and I really need help and I’m going to change my life. And so the owner said, okay, I’ll give you a job. I’ll do it right. And we’ll get you trained up. I’ll show you what to do, and we’ll take care of you. And at the end of the day, come back and see me.

And that got my attention. I ended up needing to go back later that day. And it happened to be the end of the day. And I had seen the man that was getting trained. He came through and he was emptying the trash can, he was keeping the place clean. And I thought, I looked around and like, okay, this is oil and gas.

I expected it to smell like oil, but I didn’t think about the fact that it did. And I looked around, there’s no trash on the floor. The floor is spotless. The place was immaculate. And then the gentleman that had came in, it was the end of his day in the owner. He thanked him for his service. He paid him for the day and he said, I want you to stay after.

I want you to come back and see me tomorrow. And I want to share the story with you. This is a story of someone who used to work for me, and he’s no longer with us. He passed a couple of weeks ago from a drug overdose. I don’t want that to be you. So come back here and I will always give you a job as long as you come back.

I mean, just everything about that, man, and his employees and the way they treated everybody. Stories that were going on in that room. And the people would come in and they’d say hello to him. And they tell a story and they’d laugh and they believe, and I’m like, wow, I just had never experienced that. So, and that’s what compelled me to write his story.

Didi: In addition to writing your own book, you also write for entrepreneur.com. I love this story because it makes your point. So eloquently of you have your secret sauce. So the secret sauce of this place was part of it was the customer experience of being in place. It didn’t smell like a car and it was inaccurate and, and gave you a different feel from just being a customer in there.

But then if you stop to pay attention to the Y. That they’re doing what they’re doing and how they’re embracing each other and their opportunity. Wow. That hits you, right. That really hits you. And it’s like, that’s the, I think that’s such a beautiful explanation of what you’re talking about in terms of value.

That’s there’s no, woo. There’s human kindness, but also. In a way that sets up a successful business. So let’s talk a little bit about that resilience piece of it and what happens or what’s happened in the last 24 months, for example, that makes you need to really think about that. Just sounds like such a nice feel good, but it’s like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

But I gotta get to my business. So let’s talk about why that feel good. Makes sense for

Kimberle: business. So what happens when things get tough? COVID and the pandemic and the supply chain, all of that has been very helpful for some and not for others. The biggest pain that I see from the small businesses right now, the number one issue is all about talent and they’re blaming the great resignation.

The companies that I have talked to that I have seen values just exude out of them. They’re not complaining about. They have no trouble keeping their talent. In fact, the gentleman I talked to yesterday, he had 900 applications or 20 positions. People just come to him

Didi: and it wasn’t an engineering job.

Kimberle: Oh, where there’s other plumbing companies that are really struggling.

I mean, some of the trades they’re complaining that they can’t even get folks now to want to lift the two by four or want to work. But yet this plumbing company has no problem getting people skilled and unskilled wanting to come work for him. And it really does come to how they look and feel. And. On the surface.

It’s not the womb. This gentleman that I talked to yesterday, there was no Lulu in his soul, but he was just a kind person. And he put people first and he always goes with the people first in a lot of couples, a lot of companies do say that, but do they act on it and do they behave that way? When times get really difficult?

That’s when real human nature comes out, not when we’re at our best. When we’re at our worst. And so how are we training people? Are we still being respectful? Are we still being patient? Are we still training folks up in, how do we look socially, digitally on the internet all the way down to our job descriptions.

How do people want to come to you and apply for your job? Well, let’s talk about

Didi: that. Flipping the script. What are things that people can do their values first that will help them show what the, why looks like at your organizations to show what it’s like to work there? What does that look like for the employer to really show them value?


Kimberle: organization? But DDI call it cyber-stalking so people, people are doing it. You know, they are checking you out in every possible way to see if you’re worth their time. Do they want to come work for you? Glass door is a great place to see if someone’s getting bad reviews. They look at your job description.

And one thing that we tested with a couple of companies, one in Atlanta and one in, in Chicago. They were blue collar jobs, making $15 an hour all the way up to $125,000 a year. But they had lots of competitors for that talent. And so what we changed was how the job description was displayed and how it spoke to the individual, how many touches they had with trying to get the talent to actually show up.

I’m sure a lot of people here they’re getting ghosted on interviews. They get scheduled for an interview and nobody shows up. So it’s all about making the person feel like you care about them, you know about them and you want them to show up. You sincerely want them to show up and it’s all in the words you use and in how you approach them.

So we tested out a number of text messages in series two. When the individual applied, there was a three-step series and texts that we sent them to get them to want to actually show up to the job interview into that the training session or their first day. And it was reminding them not just the benefits, DD, if you’ve ever looked at job descriptions out there, it goes through all the company.

But it’s written from the company’s perspective, not the interested motivation of the person applying. So you can simply say signing. On your job description, but if you write it as a motivation, that is for your talent, you could write that job description with that line item that says earn $1,500 bonus to help you with Christmas gifts.

And it’s very different approach, but it gets them thinking about how they could use that money versus. How you think about providing it to your talent? It’s a marketing approach that companies use to sell their products and services to their customers, but it’s the same approach you need to use for the talent, because they’re just as important, if not the most important thing that a company has, if they want to stay relative and they want to go.

So you

Didi: gave an example a little bit earlier, at least the end game of 900 people applying for 20 jobs. Is there, if we take this example of the, okay, it’s $1,500 in your pocket for Christmas, which is coming up, talk me through that example of kind of two or three pieces of the digital equation to the personal equation.

That that makes a difference for, for companies that you’ve worked.

Kimberle: For a company say plumbing. There is this thinking either with talent or other plumbing companies that you must hire someone that has, that is skilled in plumbing and already has their credentials to be a plumber. This company took a completely different approach.

They are hiring. You don’t have to have any experience, but they have their own training program. They build their own. They build their own back individuals and they pay them to go to this training. And so while they’re an apprentice there, they’re paying them, they’re paying them the entire time. And so what that does is it opens up the job market, not just for skilled plumbers, but a police officer that doesn’t want to be a police officer anymore, or maybe a teacher who doesn’t want to be a teacher.

And so, yeah, they’ve widened the nets and they’ve made. Appealing to anybody when it comes to other digital ways to entice talent, to want to come work with you. Anything that I can find about you on the web needs to be written from the talent perspective. If you want to attract them here, a job descriptions where you put the job descriptions, how your website looks and how it feels, know the demographics of the people that you want to hire and what they aspire to and what their motivation is.

So now


Didi: maybe are starting to perk up and listen a little bit and think about their own businesses who are listening on this call. Can you suggest a couple of practical ideas for the listeners of how they might

Kimberle: incorporate

Didi: and measure

Kimberle: values in their business? It’s really starting with you. D what is the number one value that you have that you make all your decisions based on that one value?

Didi: What drives. My why is empathetic curiosity? I love doing this podcast because I get to talk to people like you who have a point of view that we can then share with others who are

Kimberle: in where a lot

Didi: of us are in a similar boat, especially the great leveling, I guess, of the pandemic. And so thinking about how can I be curious, find interesting

Kimberle: people that can help other people perhaps change and advance

Didi: and

Kimberle: get better at what they’re doing.

Exactly. You just talked about how you align this podcast. And if you weren’t authentically curious about people, you would do more talking than asking questions and you’d hear how someone would answer something. And you w you wouldn’t know how to ask the second question, and you wouldn’t know how to pull out the greatness of the individual that you’re talking to.

And so when you use that as your core, it becomes. Lack of better words, core to everything you do. Let me go back to respect, respect being one of my core values and authentic respect. If that were a business owner’s core value, or maybe it’s commitment, or maybe it’s something else, you’d take a look at your vision, your mission, and your goals for your company.

And how can you build. Respect or curiosity into your vision, you know, where you’re going three to five years from now, are you going to use curiosity to explore all the opportunities to get you to your vision? Are you going to use respect for the human and for what they love and what they’re passionate about to go after your vision and your why your mission.

So just kind of rolling in the description of your vision, your mission and your goals. You roll those values in there. So you’re not talking about them separately. They’re always front and center. You’re always talking about them without singling them out and making them siloed in your organization. So then you can ask, you know, on a quarterly basis, how does respect support your mission?

Are you continuously respecting your mission and is it showing up on a day-by-day basis? How would you take respect towards your vision? And you just constantly get better at it. And then how do you build respect into your goals? What’s it going to take to achieve your vision by breaking your goals down and being more respectful in what you do, and then build that into your performance reviews.

It’s not about just accomplishing the goals. It’s not just about doing your job and showing up, but how do you do your job every day? Do you display respect for the customer, for your, your peers? For the work that you do for yourself, if you can’t respect yourself, it’s going to be pretty hard to respect them.

Didi: That performance review piece is such a huge one, because I think we talked to quite a bit here about attracting people that share the same values as you do, but making sure you’re doing that kind of litmus test as you go through that, everyone in the organization is continuing to show those values show up, right.

They show up for the individual, but they show up for each other. And I think that that’s a really important piece of the equation that is that people ought to be paying attention to too, because it’s. There is a tendency, especially when you’re stressed, I think is to get, just get people in the door and kind of keep trying to keep the lights on.

Right. But it’s like beyond that of keeping them on, in a meaningful way. And to your points to this whole conversation about the resilience of your organization is doing it pulse, check on making sure those values matter and they’re happening. And, and that you’re checking in with each other. I think that that was a really brilliant observation, too, for those who are listening to pay attention.

Kimberle: Yeah. DDU you asked very key questions at the end, which was how do you measure this? The values can be, but don’t have to be subjective. And so when you roll your values into your vision, your mission and your goals, and into the performance review, you can go back and you can take a look at here’s. Here’s what I recommended.

Define what best in class values look like and write it down and then score yourself. And all your other stakeholders, maybe you’ve got four partners. Maybe you’ve got a leadership team. Maybe you’ve got a customer focus group that you could use. Have them all score you from one to 10, with 10 being best in class and define what a five looks like or a one looks like and have them score you on where you are today.

And we’re best in classes. You’ve got your baseline. Now you can figure it out. How you can get the gap. So mind the gap on your values between where your baseline is and where you know, where you want to get to by a certain date. And then you can also see what I call. I don’t know if this term is actually out there, but I call it return on value.

Just like you have a return on investment. You’re going to have a return on value because if you sat down and curiosity, Was your value and you wanted everyone in your company to be more curious, to seek more opportunities so they can problem solve better. That more opportunities will actually come to you and you will solve problems even faster.

You’ll get projects done even faster and your revenue and your net profit will go up. Faster by changing your values and building it into everything. And we can measure that and we can measure the return on that value

Didi: I’m Deedee. And this was pivot a pop show by Zenefits. If you want to hear more unconventional thinking like Kimberly’s on how to build up the people behind your small business checkout, zenefits.com backslash.

Dash podcast where you’ll find bonus resources, profiles, and even a link to order our book, people operations. Also, if you have questions you want us to answer on our show, check out the link in our show notes below and we’ll get you covered.

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