Alun Jones, Managing Director of Menter a Busnes, says that during the pandemic it is perhaps understandable that companies have focused on the technical skills of their business or organization, to ensure they have the skills and infrastructure needed to provide responsive services in a changing environment. However, it would be an oversight not to pay attention to the underlying skills that make businesses run well – the core values of business.
Establishing core values supports a company’s vision and shapes its culture. They show what the company considers important and are the essence of a company’s identity.
Company values should not be flashy phrases or buzzwords confined to the pages of corporate strategic documents, but should be embedded in the company culture and visible in the daily actions of the hand -work. They should be apparent in the behavior and interaction of staff with each other and in their dealings with customers.
Leaders have faced relentless change and disruption over the past two years. Empowering staff to make decisions in line with company values and culture provides focus and encourages strategic decision-making.
Decisions made now will affect how people view a business or organization for years to come. If these decisions are based on company values, they can send important positive messages to customers about what the company stands for.
Employees will also be influenced by how the company treated them during a difficult time and convey their feelings to other potential employees. The company’s actions in times of crisis will define the company’s image and brand for years to come.
Now more than ever, businesses need to lead by example and show compassion to the people they work with, the people they employ and their customers.
So how do you determine company values?
Identifying and establishing corporate values can be a difficult and important exercise. They will become a central part of the principles of the company, its behavior and will serve as a guide to make the best choice in any situation. They should reflect the behavior of the current team and future recruits, and they should eventually unify diverse viewpoints and opinions.
Companies that embark on formalizing corporate values will likely find that some form of corporate culture or values already exists and will have evolved on an ad hoc basis. They will also appreciate that these are rarely ideal or fit for purpose, and that they are the product of the “loudest voice” or voices that have since left the company. Not being set in stone, they tend to waver and cannot be easily communicated or shared with staff or customers or reviewed on a regular basis.
Some companies make the mistake of picking core values from scratch and trying to embed them into their organization. However, core values are not “off the shelf” buys or “industry best practices”. They will be somewhat unique to each company and should be authentic to the company and its employees. Determining core values shouldn’t just be about copying someone else’s statement. Ideally, this should involve the entire workforce, as broad consultation will ensure maximum ‘buy-in’ and ownership. There will undoubtedly be a level of compromise along the way before agreeing on a set of corporate values that can be adopted.
Once a set of core values has been drafted, companies should ask themselves:
- do they say what the company considers important?
- describe the behavior of the company?
- describe the company’s priorities?
And if they meet these criteria, companies can ask themselves the following questions:
- Do they make you feel good about yourself and your company?
- Would you be comfortable and proud to publish these values?
- Do you want to defend them in the face of adversity?
Some decisions are really about figuring out what you or your business values the most. Faced with several options, it is helpful and comforting to be able to rely on your values and use them as a powerful driving force to steer you in the right direction. You will also know that what you are doing is best for your business, your people and your customers.
Once established, some would say that new employees should not be expected to “buy in” to company values, but should be recruited on the basis that they already share them, and a once recruited, you must make a concerted effort to retain them. . Therefore, measuring potential staff against company values is increasingly seen by HR departments as an efficient and cost-effective way to recruit staff. Those who don’t share your company’s values, regardless of their seemingly glowing resumes or credentials, would be better off seeking employment elsewhere.
Some of the most common company values include: integrity, boldness, honesty,
Fairness, reliability, responsibility, learning, customer experience, passion, balance… but each company must establish its own set of values.
Benefits of Establishing Corporate Values
- Allows staff to make their own decisions
- Improves employee relations and communication
- Improves employee motivation and engagement
- Helps customers understand what the company stands for
- Attracts and retains top talent
- Attracts new customers who have similar values
- Makes life easier for marketing and PR teams
- Can give a competitive advantage
- Improves employee engagement
- Improves employee performance (role clarity)
…and much more!
Communicate and implement company values
Communicating company values shouldn’t be just about sharing a PowerPoint once in a blue moon or sending an impersonal email, but they should be visible every day in internal communications, creating synergy and improving the employee engagement in your workplace.
Remember to reaffirm your company’s core values regularly at staff meetings and perhaps post them on the office wall. Strong core values will strengthen your business relationships and help employees and management conduct business fairly and ethically.
Take the time to reflect on your values today. How do you model them on a daily basis? How do you ensure they are more than words? How do you communicate them to your staff and customers?
I conclude with a quote from the British Medical Journal:
“Values may seem outdated, but they are as new today and as necessary as our heartbeats.
They are our spiritual fuel, our stamina. They become our motivation and our commitment.
They allow us to achieve our goals.