How can a business Craft and live a values statement that resonates with staff and clients?
20 February 2023, By Chris Schutte
“We are going to see companies increasingly assume that what they stand for in an enduring sense is more important than what they sell.” – Jim Collins – Co-author, Built to Last.
What are Company Values?
Every organisation has a set of Values, whether they are written down or not.
Values guide the perspective of the organisation as well as its actions, which are generally driven by a minority—typically the owner or senior management team. Writing down a set of commonly held Values can help an organisation define its culture and beliefs. When members of the organisation subscribe to a common set of Values, the organisation appears united when setting goals and dealing with challenges.
Values can set a company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. However, producing strongly defined Values and living them, requires real willpower from the senior management. An organisation considering a Values initiative must first come to terms with the fact that, when properly applied, it can motivate, but may also inflict pain. Values can make employees feel they belong, but some employees may feel like outsiders. Therefore, an organisation’s set of values may be seen to limit its strategic operational freedom and constrain the behaviour of some of its people. A set of Values could leave executives open to heavy criticism for even minor violations, and they demand constant vigilance.
Why are Company Values Important?
Values at work are increasingly important because:
- We work in stressful times, and they provide guidelines for our behaviour.
- It is a highly competitive world, and they help show our customers how we are different from other providers and potential staff how we differ from other perspective employers because they say, ‘This is what we value here’.
- People are increasingly aware of organisational Values and look for them, frequently choosing one organisation over another because of their Values, when they make job and career choices.
- They provide the basis for achieving culture change.
- They help enable people and organisations to succeed.
- They impact on professional practice.
- They can provide a measurement of success for individuals. (Some organisations include them in people’s performance reviews).
- They can provide some stability through change, i.e., which Values remain, how do we implement the change in line with our Values?
Living Values in an Organisation
Values are the essence of corporate culture because they set out the ‘dos and don’ts’ around the organisation. Living them is what really counts. They are not made to be put up on the wall and forgotten about.
Some organisations think of their Values as their ‘guiding beacon’ directing the process of organisational development and growth. Others describe them as the components of their philosophy. They relate to how organisations deal with their beliefs about people and work. They define non-negotiable behaviours. More and more studies show that successful companies place a great deal of emphasis on their Values. Any organisation which promotes their Values will tell you they underpin their vision.
There is not a universally spot-on set of core Values, the guideline is simply to limit your Core Values to a maximum of three to five. Your Values should also be an authentic, exhibiting characteristic that exists within your organisation. Do not create or set a core ideology, discover the core ideology. Do not deduce it by looking at the external environment, understand it by looking internally.
Measurable values facets and a properly constructed values statement makes it a lot easier to manage the flow of the Values set through the organisation and its people.
To illustrate this point, we used the InterACT system to define the most important 21 current values of our company—InterACT-Global. We use one of the prescribed methods from three alternative methods to determine our company values ranking.
The outcome was as follows:
Achievement, Ability Utilisation, Variety, Financial Rewards, Concern for Others, Creativity, Business Ethics
Risk, Physical Challenges, Physical Activity, Cultural Identity, Close Relationships, Predictable Environment, Prestige
Creating a Values Statement From The Results
Once we had reviewed the results, we then integrated our top 7 values motivators with the 7 bottom demotivators (or effectively rejected values) and with the assistance of a wordsmith we formulated the following statement using the results:
“We are driven by professional standards (Business Ethics) for psychometric assessments to minimise the risk (low or rejected risk) of people management for our clients (concern for others). Our approach for our clients is creative (creativity) yet practical and filled with passion for our products and services (business ethics and achievement).
Our people are encouraged to grow and develop (Ability utilisation) in a culture of trust where we value variety (low on cultural identity) and entrepreneurship (financial reward).
We never compromise our business ethics and always ensure we listen to our clients and save them risk and money.”
Discover Your Own Company Values
Want to compile your own set of company values and create a values statement that speaks to your staff and clients?