How Employers Can Inspire Flexibility and Autonomy

Rules can only go so far, and there might be a human tendency to resist “rules” because they seem like limitations more than helpful guidance. Instead of writing voluminous rule books (like lawyers and legislatures do), I found that consistently communicating our Core Values is most effective in empowering employees. We list these values and share them throughout the hiring process, but we also define them, as we relate to them in our work:


We look first at our contributions to situations and change our actions before blaming others or expecting someone else to shift our circumstances.


We seek to leave each matter, person, and place better than we found them.


We err on the side of inclusion, inviting affected parties to participate in creating win-win solutions.


We are committed to continuous improvement, personal growth, and professional development so that everyone can live his or her best life.


We are mindful and respectful of others’ different beliefs, needs, and wants, even if we disagree with them.


We set aside our assumptions and base our decisions on tangible proof, such as sworn documents, photographs, testimony under oath, and video.


We do what we say we will do, correct our errors, do things as they are supposed to be done, and deliver complete work at every level on every project.


We are aware that others observe our behavior when choosing their own, and we are careful what we lead them to imitate.


We are not in anything solely for our own benefit, and we consistently seek win-win solutions.


We choose peace whenever possible, yet we speak up against injustice, unfairness, racism, sexism, and discrimination based on a person’s physical individuality (e.g., age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual preference).

Our values aren’t just buzzwords left to interpretation, and in our Operations Manual, each chapter begins with an adaptation of the Core Values to the specific topic, such as Client Relations, Human Resources, Finance, and Marketing. This reinforces the values and gives employees clear examples of how they might apply.

Do you have similar practices or tips for other business owners? Please share them in the Comments below. Thanks!

Nance L. Schick, Esq. is an attorney and mediator who also serves as the Main Representative to the United Nations for the International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). Her holistic, integrative approach to conflict resolution draws from her experience as a crime victim, human resources supervisor, and minor league sports agent, as well as her legal, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and ICERM training. She is creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, and an award-winning entrepreneur, who has been acknowledged by Super Lawyers (ADR, 2018), the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards), and Urban Rebound NY/Count Me In (Finalist, 2013 Pitch Competition).