How to Bring Your Company Values to Life
Company values are closely related to the company’s culture. How to realize the company’s values in the working process and make it visible to others? Many companies focus on their goals and achievements but in the working process forget about core values.
Setting the right values for the company
Companies cannot start with setting the right goals if they are not sure about values. Values show direction and what is important for the company in the goal-reaching process.
The value statement should show what the company believes in. It’s the backbone that can be referred back to as context for what to do next, how to act, and so on. Think of it as a set of guidelines that demonstrate the “soul” of the company to whoever reads it.
The importance of core values
When the company has already chosen the main values – not only the ones that can be highlighted but also the ones that employees have embraced, they can make it ‘alive’ in company culture. Moreover, values are the soul of the company that needs to be integrated into the employee-related processes. Core values give employees the focus they need to do things the right way.
“Culture is living values. Values are written words, and your culture is how you actually live [them].” – Jeff Lawson.
The connection between the values and goals
“Values are verbs, things we do.” – Simon Sinek.
It means that values ‘follow’ each goal. The process of reaching the goal is made of many actions including the soul of the company – values.
If the value is expressed as a verb, it could be fulfilled in real life because it contains actions. Values that are defined as nouns, for example, respect, integrity, etc. are understandable but employees do not know how to fulfill that in their working process. For instance, within an organization, the value ‘respect’ should be replaced by ‘be humble’ as a verb.
In fact, 55% of all Fortune 100 companies claim integrity is a core value, 49% espouse customer satisfaction, and 40% tout team-work. While these are inarguably good qualities, such terms hardly provide a distinct blueprint for employee behavior.
Enliven core values
There is no reason to choose values just because you need to set them. Empty value statements create cynical and dispirited employees, alienate customers, and undermine managerial credibility. In fact, 80% of the Fortune 100 tout their values publicly — values that too often stand for nothing but a desire to be familiar or politically correct.
Meaningful values can set a company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. But coming up with strong values and sticking to them—requires real guts.
Understanding the values contribute to the performance of the company. Companies, therefore, should establish some basic definitions to ensure that people know what they’re talking about and what they’re trying to accomplish. There are 4 categories of organizing values.
- Core values – the ‘soul’ of the company or the main constant beliefs that an organization’s corporate culture is based on.
- Aspirational values – values that are opposite to practiced values, these are values that a company wants to fulfill in the future to be successful.
- Permission-to-play values – values of life (e.g. honesty, reliability, commitment) that need to be understandable to any employee.
- Accidental values – values that splash out spontaneously in the working process when a company generates new ideas, start a new strategy, etc.
What leaders can do to bring to life their company values:
- Communicate the core values with examples to your employees. And communicate with them often.
- Make an emotional connection between each core value and all employees.
- Show values meaning throughout the company’s actions.
- Show unwavering belief in the organizational values.
- Connect values directly with each employee.
- Place more emphasis on employee development.
- Recognize employees for living out the core company values.
Engagement of employees
Enliven values are possible only when employees believe in the company’s values and follow them. The best values are formulated by small teams that include the CEO and a handful of key employees. It is important because employees who worked at the company for a long time could spread the true values and suggest it to the CEO. Read more: The 3 Common Mistakes in Employee Engagement.
“Top managers also need to understand that a good values program is like a fine wine; it’s never rushed. It is far more important for a values team to arrive at a statement that works than to reach a decision it may later regret.” – Patrick M. Lencioni.