Tom Nies: Core values for success

Tom Nies, Founder & CEO, Cincom

I recently received a very pleasant note from one of Cincom’s new customers who spoke of the software buying cycle he had just helped lead his company through and offered some words of thanks to the team of Cincom employees with which he had worked.

This customer had read a portion of my writing, which focused on a sales process as a “buy cycle” and being a “servant seller,” which I’ve discussed in previous columns. He also let me know that he saw the main values that I hope every Cincomer embodies — character, competence and commitment — in the employees with which he worked.

We have framed the following value statement at several places at Cincom, and we want all Cincomers to exhibit it:

“Character to act on our beliefs, competence to achieve our goals and the commitment to see them through.”

These core values drive productivity, resulting in profitability and sustainability for the benefit of Cincom and our customers. As an employee or an employer, they are essential minimums. But what do they really mean?

Character includes trust, honesty

Character is embodied by the behaviors and values that elicit trust and commitment. It is doing the “right thing” in a professional manner.

We make these demands of each Cincomer as it promotes an emphasis on seeking solutions instead of casting blame. It leads to a culture of saying “yes” instead of “no” when working toward a solution.

Hiring people with a good character allows you to foster an environment where honest communication is encouraged and differences of opinion are allowed. This is great for internal employees, but it also helps your customers because your dedication to seeking solutions will allow you to provide a high level of service.

Competence is business acumen

Competence is the business acumen and the knowledge required to manage the various functions of any organization.

A truly disciplined organization will continuously learn and consistently apply the best methods to achieve its goals. I’ve strived to make Cincom one such organization over the past 44 years by encouraging entrepreneurial ventures and allowing people to have the opportunity to grow and learn both in their positions and in other areas of the company in which they may be interested.

It is important to allow employees the freedom to fail. To truly have an initiative of self-growth in an organization and live up to the value of competence, employees must feel safe when proposing new ideas or attempting new skills.

You drive with commitment

Commitment may be the most important of the three core values. While it alone cannot be a measure of success, committing to a goal or idea provides the drive or force that will compel a company forward.

I’ve always looked at the value of commitment as a promise to do what has been asked and provide whatever assistance is required to meet a shared commitment.

This commitment can be a pledge to fellow co-workers, the community in which your company is located, or your customers and prospects. It is part of the character of saying “yes” first and always seeking a solution through competent business acumen.

As you can see, each of these three core values is a great trait to possess on its own, but the three work best together. A truly successful organization will be composed of committed individuals who have the competence to continuously seek to learn and the ethical integrity to work in an honest way.

I have been lucky enough throughout my career to employ hundreds of amazing people who embody these values to the fullest. And their importance cannot be summed up by more than that customer who wrote to me: Products don’t win sales cycles, people do.

Do you have the right people on your team? <<

Thomas M. Nies is the founder and CEO of Cincom Systems Inc. Since its founding in 1968, Cincom has matured into one of the largest international, independent software companies in the world. Cincom’s client base spans communications, financial services, education, government, manufacturing, retail, healthcare and insurance. Website: