When someone is described as having “No Values”, it typically has a negative connotation. It usually indicates that the person has no moral compass or scruples - that you don’t know what to expect from them.
The same holds true for a business or organization. Without clear values that define a company’s operating principles, it becomes difficult to recruit top talent, to lead existing employees, or to explain the special sauce that differentiates your business from others.
As more people are on boarded and a company grows in size, employees want to know what to expect from the executive team, managers, and their colleagues. Are people dedicated to providing a great product/service or are short cuts and go arounds the norm? Are the processes in place respected or randomly ignored? Do people own up to mistakes and learn from errors, or do they seek excuses and scapegoats?
As a customer doing business with a company, you want to understand what to expect from those delivering a product or service. How does working with your company make a difference? Is this difference consistent across the board no matter whom you are dealing with in the company?
Values are the foundation of a company. They are the core of what makes the company tick. They form its personality. To be authentic, values should come from within. Picking company values from another company’s website, may get you a list of values but they may not resonate and be actualized by employees.
To create a list of values, look within your organization. Think of the people who have made the company to date and the characteristics and traits they possess that have made a difference. Begin the discussion with your executive team who sets the tone for the rest of your organization. What do they respect about each other? What values are important to them? Often values are ingrained early on from our experiences and from the people closest to us. Sharing what values are important to us and how they are demonstrated leads to an authentic list of values from which to build. It also allows for stories to evolve that bring life to values.
Once you have a core list of values, share them with others in your company. Provide actual accounts of how they are demonstrated in your organization on a regular basis. Seek feedback on the values and input on where others have seen them in operation. Then, narrow and refine your list to a reasonable number, preferably 5, and bring them to life with a brief narrative that clarifies their importance in the way you operate. But, don’t stop there, identify ways to recognize these values in day-to-day internal interactions and in the interactions with customers, suppliers and partners.
By dedicating time to discuss and recognize values, you send a strong message that values are taken seriously. Regularly recognizing the values creates a mutual understanding and alignment in the way people work, allowing more time to be spent focusing on the growth objectives of the company.
What strategies have you used to make your values come to life? We would welcome your thoughts at info.ArtScienceGroup.com.