Drafting a Manager's Credo
A manager’s credo is a written statement of the guiding principles for the operation of the business. Everyone in the organization is expected to adhere to these guiding principles. The credo describes what kind of company the owner wants to build, how each individual in the organization should act in the course of building the business and what the company stands for.
When a company is very small -- at its earliest stages -- the owner or CEO will often interact with each employee on a daily basis. By observing how he behaves, employees will see what is expected of them. As the company grows, many new employees are hired and the organization acquires a formal structure, the owner may have very little contact with people in the lower organizational tiers. Unless a manager’s credo is in place, employees will not have a sense of what the owner considers ethical and moral behavior. They may not act in accordance with the owner’s core values, because they do not know what these values are.
The company’s primary goal -- its mission -- describes what it intends to do and may include how it wants to impact its market or society as a whole. A dude ranch in the Southwest, for example, could have the primary goal of “bringing the Old West alive for 21st Century guests and providing vibrant memories that will last a lifetime.” That brief statement clearly describes the overall guest experience the owner seeks to create and the lasting impact she hopes to make with the business.
The statement of ethics in the manager’s credo could also be called a code of conduct. The owner imagines situations employees will find themselves in that require moral choices -- the tradeoff between maximizing profits and maintaining the highest product quality standards for example. The statement of ethics provides specific guidance on how employees should navigate through these moral dilemmas in issues such as confidentiality and conflict of interest.
Values could be described as the company’s philosophy -- what it stands for. When everyone in an organization closely follows the company’s stated values, the business will create an image or identity in the marketplace that will be perceived by customers, competitors, suppliers, the press and the community. To draft a values statement in his credo, the owner chooses specific terms or concepts he wants associated with the company. He could solicit employee, customer or even competitor input to get a picture of how the company is currently perceived, then create an ideal image he wants for the company. Many companies use a variation of the theme, “the customer comes first.” The decisions the owner and his employees make move the company toward achieving this ideal. A business operated by individuals with shared values will have less conflict and they will be able to work better as a team.
The management credo helps employees act decisively. They know, for example, that they are allowed to spend as much time as necessary to resolve a customer complaint, because having the highest customer satisfaction in the industry is one of the company's core values. The positive image or identity that emerges from the consistent application of the credo helps the business owner attract employees of the highest skill and integrity. The credo can be a competitive advantage in acquiring customers. They seek to do business with a company they can rely on to be truthful and delivers on the promises it makes.