Why do companies have values? As a business leader, have you articulated your values? Are they remembered, ingrained and reinforced?
We know that visionary companies that succeed for decades are guided by strong values. They create a sense of purpose, energising and inspiring people throughout the organisation.
Let’s look at why values matter, how to identify them and successfully embed them in your company.
Why have them?
- Values define and differentiate your company. They’re unique to your company and set you apart from your industry peers.
- Values are a communication tool. They explain what behaviours are important and help you employ the right people. They provide a glimpse into what it might be like to work for you or do business with you.
- Values guide behaviour and shape company culture. Your values influence how your employees act. The more they live out these values, the more the company develops its identity.
- Values contribute to the overall success of the organisation. A team that lives and breathes its values will create a stronger team, while improving retention and contributing to better overall business performance.
Identifying and defining your values
The good news is that defining your company’s values shouldn’t be hard. You should be able to identify them easily.
Values aren’t future goals but positive markers that guide the people in your company today to its success. They should be ingrained in the best work and the best people in your company today. What’s most important is that your values are easy to understand. This is particularly true when you have employees around the globe. Keep them short and simple. They need to be clearly explained so that employees understand what’s expected of them.
A good starting point for defining your company’s values is asking groups of employees and/or clients these questions:
- What behaviours are important at your company?
- What makes your company unique?
Once your values are defined, don’t hide them in your company handbook. Simply posting company values on noticeboards in the office isn’t enough. They need to be constantly communicated and embedded in everything you do.
How do you go about continually embedding values into the culture of your company, while ensuring your employees are living and breathing them? Here are some suggestions:
- Simple and clear explanation. Make sure your employees and clients understand your values system. Vague and generic values are as good as having no values at all. Take time to explain what they mean internally and externally.
- Recruitment. Companies should hire people who reflect their values. You can always train skills, but a candidate who demonstrates your values will most likely integrate better into your business and maximise their potential at work. Recruitment interviews should include questions which help to assess required behaviours or demonstrate examples of living specific values.
- Performance appraisals. Performance reviews or appraisals should incorporate a review of your employee’s performance against your values.
- Reward and recognition. Consider how you currently recognise and reward your employees. An idea is to introduce a scheme where recipients receive a tangible reward and recognition for actions aligned with your core values. Announcing winners across the company, stating reasons why they have been nominated, will also help to reinforce your values.
- Share stories. Sharing stories is another great way to embed your company’s values. This could include any people-related social media activity where you highlight company culture through your activities, events, onboarding videos, company newsletters, quarterly meetings and team meetings. Bring your values to life whenever you can.
Values matter when they mean something. When valued, they help clarify your company’s identity and serve as a rallying point for employees. Make no mistake: coming up with strong values – and sticking to them – takes work.