The discussions surrounding company values have been a hot topic in recent years. Surely, you’ve seen words like Integrity, Honesty, Accountability, and many more on nearly any front page of companies’ sites. But what are they really like? Do they work or is it just buzzwords?
The inspiration for writing this article was taken from a recent poll on LinkedIn where we asked business professionals to share their opinion on the importance of the company values. In the poll, 41% of you share an opinion that company values are necessary and very important and 33% of you think that great values are nice to have. On the other hand, 15% of you see them as just branding and don’t care much about them.
So, what are these company values everyone’s been talking about? Company values can be seen as a set of guidelines that reflect a company’s beliefs, principles, and philosophies. They have an impact on employees, new recruits, shareholders, customers, and partners.
Company values are what define a company and make it stand out from competitors. They reflect what you and your employees stand for and they are the basis for how you want to be perceived by the outside world. They are the indicators and defining factors of your appearance in front of others.
Some say that the core company values can be described as the company’s DNA, something that has an impact on how you are perceived differently from your competitors.
Why have them
When you choose the right company values, they can be a huge help for you and your company in several aspects.
Firstly, they help to show others what you and your company stand for. This way you can get recognized for your authentic self and stand out from your competitors. Others can get a sneak peek of what you’re like and what to expect from you. It’s easier to build new relationships with people who think alike so good values will bring you good business partners and customers who have similar beliefs as you.
Not just in regards to customers and partners, but good values that are close to your personal ones, can also attract new employees. When you stand for what they stand for it is easier to cooperate and everyone feels more motivated since you share a common understanding. This motivation can lead to higher productivity, better performance, and results. People feel more dedicated and committed to what they do and this creates a healthier working environment.
Having the right company values can also help set the right direction in a decision process and can help you see where your company should head next.
What not to do
Now you’re aware of why corporate values are important, and why it is good to have them but that’s not all. It is equally crucial to be aware of what not to do when setting up the core values for your company.
First and foremost, don’t set the values just for the sake of setting them. This will not help anyone. Seriously, take your time and think it all through. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bunch of meaningless words that no one feels committed to, and for you, it will be a waste of time in the end.
Secondly, similarly to the first point, it is important to really think it through and brainstorm different options in this process. By doing this, you increase the chance of choosing better-fitting values for your company that are in line with what you do and how do you want to see yourself presented.
Thirdly, when going through the selective process for your company values make sure that you align your personal values and what you truly stand for to the company values. This will help you to be more authentic, and honest and it will be easier for you to communicate these values with others.
What happens when they’re misaligned
Well then it can lead to one or more of the following things:
lack of trust from your employees, business partners, etc.
decrease in employee satisfaction
decrease in motivation to perform well
possibility of having an unhealthy work environment
higher risk of poor communication
lower dedication to work and lack of accountability
problems with reaching business goals
Seeing all of these reasons grouped altogether states it clear that it’s better to align your personal beliefs to your corporate values. Now you’re ready for the last step - that is to learn how to successfully align them.
How to align them
Now that you know why it is crucial to have the right type of company values, let’s go to the part on how you can align your corporate values with your personal ones.
First things first, analyze your current state of the company, and the overall environment, and start thinking what are the things that represent you the most. Are there any changes you’d like to make? Or is there any particular example of a company whose culture you look up to and whose values you like? Take this as an inspiration and try to adjust your vision and corporate values in this way.
One of the most important things in this process is to be open and transparent about what’s going on. Try to involve your employees in the creation process and ask for regular feedback. This situation can help both of you and can improve communication between you. Your employees will feel more involved and trusted and will see that you are open about what’s happening. For you it has the advantage of getting more ideas - you never know what ideas can come out of a group debate.
Next, it is vital that you agree on values that are realistic and achievable. Don’t strive for something too complicated and hard to achieve. It’s better to aim for something that can be easily implemented.
Lastly, even after this process is finished, don’t forget to run regular tests to see if you’re fulfilling what you agreed on and if the values are aligned in all processes and in all parts of your company. It’s like teamwork, so everyone plays their part.
The right company values in action can make a difference and improve your company’s environment, performance and results, but you’ll have to commit to them and live them out at all levels of the company. Now you know how to improve your current company values or how to create new ones. The only thing left is to put what you just learned into practice.