Having now already defined your organisations Purpose, Mission and Vision the next task is to set about defining the company values.  

Values: Values statements serve as a frame work to guide the daily actions and decisions; they represent the standards by which staff will be measured in all individual and collective actions. Most organisations will, understandably, be committed to achieving their goals, but how they go about achieving them is equally, if not more important, than the mission and vision themselves.

Why are company values important?

A company’s values are “The principles that guide behaviour at work.” That’s why you should care …you can set a course for reaching an objective …but would you prefer to do it in a way that would make your grandmother proud or would you be happy, as many a fortunately now defunct, financial firms, were in the 80’s and 90’s to set up systems and processes to systematically rip-off many an unsuspecting old lady?

A core set of company values makes it easier for a company to make decisions, quickly communicate principles to clients and customers and hire employees with the right attitude.

Creating a growing business is a bit like creating and growing a community and if you want the community to act as a cohesive group, you need a shared ethos that drives how the community functions and who you choose to invite into the community.

Conversely, if you don’t own, define, and care about the values of your firm, your firm will evolve on its own…potentially, in ways that you won’t like!
Defining values is important because they provide guidance for ambiguous scenarios and tough trade-offs.

Values guide behaviour.

There are four elements to crating effective core values

1. Lead with your vision statement

Your vision statement describes the impact a company will have on the world.

2. Ensure your values are unique

We’ve all heard values like “integrity”, “honesty”, ‘think big’ or ‘be curious’ from a handful of giants like Netflix and Amazon…even Enron!

As a result, it’s not unusual that smaller companies are influenced by them and end up having similar values.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but effective values should be unique to your company, your ethos, the things you do, the things you want to do and what you want to become.

3. Make values simple to understand and remember

We would certainly advocate adopt the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) principle…
There’s no point crafting the perfect set of values if nobody can recall them. A short, bullet-point list of simple, single-sentence values will be easier to remember and help guide your teams’ decisions.

4. Evolve your values over time

Be prepared to adapt your values …as your company grows, the values you initially wrote may need to change and evolve; the issues, dynamics and challenges change as the number of employees grows, and different things become more or less important.
So, re-examine your values as your team grows and get feedback from existing and new staff to help guide the process.

How to define and implement company values: 

1) There is no one right way to do it. While there are some guidelines, every company has its own story when it comes to values.
2) Also, it’s not just about coming up with your values. It’s about really living them.

Using the Mission, Vision and Purpose statements as a platform, a process that seems to work is:

  • Study (don’t simply review, but really study) the Mission, Vision and Purpose statement
  • Mull the question over …what are our values?
  • Jot your ideas down 
  • Throw out your ideas and discuss them
  • If there is potential in the idea make a note and continue to discuss
  • Repeat
  • Regroup and read aloud what we have so far
  • Discuss again to refine and check for overlap
  • Sit on your list for a week and refine again

Here are some questions that might be useful to guide your thinking:

  • What’s important to us?
  • What brought us all together and continues to hold us together?
  • What will help guide us when we are facing a difficult decision?
    • What are we rewarded for and what are we reprimanded for?
    • When is it appropriate to put the needs of the team above the needs of the customer?
    • When is it appropriate to put the needs of the team above the needs of the individual?
  • What are the things you like about what we do and how we do it?
  • What parts of our company are we proud of?

And, here are some questions that might be useful to guide your refining of your initial set of values:

  • Is this something we’ll still believe in 5 years? 10 years?
  • Is this something that we are willing to hire on?
  • Is this something that we are willing to fire on? 
  • Is this something we can apply to customer relations? Or internal development? Or product development? Or at all?

This refinement and review process may take a couple of workshops before you have your first draft ready to share with the larger team….best of luck…

Next article will be the last in this series and will seek to explore how the previous three blogs have sought to create a set of statements that become your North Star and how to promote the work done to deliver value.

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• Better strategies
• Better systems
• Better measurement and 
• Engaged people delivering 
• Better results

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