If your company values were a language, would your employees be fluent in it?
Company Values are more than just a list of words we mention in meetings or on a website.
For values to truly guide an organisation, they need to be fully understood and embedded in the workplace culture, lived and felt by everyone. They need to be fully integrated into a company’s processes and decisions.
In other words, they need to become second nature.
Values act as a lens through which you and your people can clearly navigate situations, making decisions in alignment with the company Vision.
In a 2020 MIT Sloan study of 500 companies, findings show there is “no or weak correlation between company values espoused by the company and actual practices within the same organisations.” Basic Values like Integrity, Collaboration, Innovation and Respect can become buzz words overused by leadership and under represented in actual demonstrated behaviour.
These values are like ‘brushing your teeth’, they are an obvious employee hygiene factor. So now more than ever businesses have the opportunity to redefine their values and fine tune them to their specific company and what they aim to achieve.
If a company has been around for 50 years or 5 months, values are never set in stone, so feel free to change and redefine them. This is especially relevant, when the business environment is rapidly evolving. Creating company values that are unique to your brand is essential in ensuring organisational values have a point and are influential.
Without a continuous, conscious focus on your values your values will not be impactful. The process includes consultation, agreement, definitive definitions and integration of your values into every area of your business.
Here are some of our favourite company values that are clear and specific, related to what the business truly values.
- Customer obsession rather than competitor focus
- Passion for invention
- Commitment to operational excellence
- Long-term thinking
- Open company, no bullshit
- Build with heart and balance
- Don’t #@!% the customer
- Play, as a team
- Be the change you seek
- Work as one team, one Origin
- Be the customer champion
- Care about our impact
- Being accountable
- Find a better way
- Focus on the user and all else will follow
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well
- Fast is better than slow
4 things you need to do to ensure your company values are impactful
Focus and prioritise your values
Having too many values makes it harder and at times, impossible to cultivate. If you have more than 6 values it’s time to focus on the values that matter the most. When there is too much light in a camera lens it’s hard to focus. Talk to your team and involve the organisation in the company value focusing process.
Translate values into desired behaviours
Values are the beliefs and principles that drive your decision-making and actions for your business. They impact the experience of your employees, customers, and business partners.
A lot of the time, values tend to be abstract and seem two dimensional. When acting out values, behaviours can be measured and explained with more clarity hence adding a higher dimension to these words we define as values. This can better equip your people to let values guide their actions and decision making, as they now have a greater feel and understanding of what the company values actually mean.
Role playing specific scenarios when doing employee development work can aid in illuminating company values and identifying gaps between current employee attitudes or behaviours and what the company values would expect. Sometimes to define what you do want/value, you have to define what you don’t want/value. Using the process of elimination and compare/contrast method here is an effective way to communicate the value of values to your people.
To ensure your values are impactful, it’s important to translate them into desired actions and behaviours and ensure your people know what it feels like to live out company values, not just know the words.
Do they even know the words you use as values? Would you employees be able to name every single company value at your business if you asked them today?
If not you have to ask yourself WHY.
Is it because they are not important or relevant enough to their everyday work? Maybe they are outdated or not tailored tight enough to the specific company itself.
Integrate your values into the hiring process
One of the best ways to ensure your organisation adopts your values is by hiring people who understand and live by these values. Values misalignment should be a deal-breaker when it comes to hiring.
You can teach skill but you can’t teach morals. Morals uphold values.
Start by creating behavioural interview questions to help you uncover a candidate’s personal values to determine whether their values align with yours and the company’s.
Behavioural questions help uncover past actions and behaviours to ascertain the underlying values that guided the candidate’s actions.
> Here’s an example of a behavioural question.
“Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult colleague on a project. Why were they difficult, and how did you go about it?”
Make your values part and parcel of performance management
Too often, performance management is focused on business goals and results. In other words, managers tend to focus on “what needs to be done“.
And whilst that’s quite important, you need to also focus on “how something should be done“. Embedding your company values into your performance management will help you create a culture that adopts and values your values.
Now that you’ve translated your values into a set of actions and behaviours, make sure these behaviours are part of all job descriptions.
These behaviours can be measured and discussed as part of your performance conversations and will serve as a foundation for your ongoing 1-1 conversations with your employees.
At The Culture Equation, we’ve helped several businesses transform their culture, teams and leadership and it all starts with defining company values.
As your company values are a language, let us help your people be fluent in it. Reach out for a chat!