Just like individuals, companies need core values. Any amazing company you have ever heard of has a set of core values, born out of its purpose, that dictates their cultures, policies, and overall behavior. These values matter. They help your company make hard decisions, take clear action, and avoid ambiguity. They’re more than great-sounding words to adorn plaques or company literature. They are thrashed out over time and with much thought and effort. They aren’t to be taken lightly.
Here is an ultimate guide to defining your company values.
What Are Company Values
Company values, also known as core values, have been defined as their set of guiding beliefs. These beliefs form the foundation upon which the company is built. Another definition of company values is that it is the very DNA that determines how the company looks and behaves.
Taking either of these definitions, or neither, company values are the set of guiding principles that govern your company’s choices, actions, and sense of right and wrong. They define your brand, dictate good work relationships between your employees, and determine how your company relates to your customers and community.
Why Company Values are Important
A happy, productive culture evolves when companies hold to their defined values. Following are some benefits that come from embracing company values:
- Company values draw (and keep) the right people. Even from the outside, prospective employees can see your values in action and want to be a part of it. Values also keep the great talent you have attracted. People are reluctant to leave a company whose values align with their own.
- Company values create community. Your values will develop a sense of fairness and unity among your employees. This makes the workplace somewhere people want to come and work.
- Company values help with decision-making. When you know what you stand for and have a sense of right and wrong, decisions are easier to make. The way toward your goals is more straightforward when you have taken the time to establish your priorities and beliefs.
- Company values set you apart. You won’t look like every other company on the block because your values will differentiate you.
- Company values show the world who you are. When you uphold your company values, your customers begin to understand what your company is all about.
How Values Shape Company Culture
Company culture is the attitudes and behaviors displayed by a company and its employees. It is how your company interacts with its customers and your employees interact with each other. Culture is a true reflection of your company’s values. While your company may say that integrity is a core value, if your employees are rewarded with recognition, praise, or promotion for dishonest behavior, then integrity isn’t your core value.
Defining what you want your company to be about, despite its current condition, can cause a turnaround. The right values can help you hire or fire the right people, find valuable customers, serve your stakeholders, and deal with challenges.
If you allow your values to saturate every aspect of your company, you will enjoy a more positive and productive workplace.
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Where to Apply Your Values
Some of these have already been stated, but here are where in your organization you can apply your company values:
- Hiring. When you know what you value, you can hire people who can work within those parameters. You can create a values-based recruitment process. So when you’re interviewing prospects, you can know what to ask and what responses to expect.
- Onboarding. Now that you’ve got the right talent, you need to ensure new employees know your values and how you expect them to behave within your organization.
- Corporate decision-making. Knowing what’s important to you as a company will help immensely to determine which path to take and which opportunities are suitable for you.
- Learning and development. The opportunities you provide for your employees and those you support are tied to what you deem important.
- Employee engagement. How your company interacts with your employees will result in the level of commitment and loyalty they have to you.
Defining Company Values
Here is how you can define your company values:
Begin with Your Purpose
Simon Sinek isn’t the only one who believes we should begin with our ‘why.’ Your values flow out of your purpose for being in business in the first place. Consider the impact you want to make in the world and how you want to do it. Your purpose is your ‘why,’ and your values are the ‘how.’
Keep Values Easy to Understand and Remember
As in all things – keep it simple. Having five short, carefully-crafted values is better than 20 long ones that you nor your employees can uphold or remember. You can be creative with how the values are stated. For instance, one famous company uses emojis to help everyone remember.
Make Your Values Your Own
Your company and its culture are different from any other, so make your values uniquely yours. It’s easy to look at larger, more successful companies and adopt their values as your own. You can use them as a guideline, but your company has its own purpose, so it should have its own values.
Values are Expensive
If your values are too easy to live with, they may not be enough to create the company culture you want. Your values should cost you something. They should create strict parameters within which you operate the company.
Revise Your Values
Over time you may realize that your values need to be revised. In light of current affairs or societal changes, you may notice that new items need to be included and others need to be removed. Every six months to a year, you should check to ensure your values are still taking you where you want to go.
Additional Points to Consider:
- Keep them brief.
- Avoid vague, corporate jargon – be specific and clear.
- Consider your internal and external impact.
Final Thoughts on Company Values
Coming up with your company values is the easy part. Once you have determined your priorities and how you want to express them, you will need to live these values out. But the good news is that when you commit to your values, they will, in turn, create a company culture that supports a happy, productive workplace.
Need Support Knowing or Implementing Your Company Values?
We can help!
So many companies have a nice list of values typed up, but don’t know how to implement those values in practice. Exemplifying company values within your culture means creating habits of attitude and behavior that match those values! Most teams operate with the habits that individuals bring to the team, but implementing company values means creating habits as a team and sticking to those habits by holding yourself and each other accountable.
Our consultants can help your team create habits that exemplify your company values that your team can stick to. Schedule a complimentary call with us today to find out exactly how we can help your team create new team habits.
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