What are they, how to choose them and why they're important.
All too often these are generic and, quite frankly, pretty dull. When I worked in corporate, ours were innovation, ownership, teamwork and two others I can’t even remember! There is no personality behind these, they just describe ways of working that benefit the firm. They were given different colours, each part of a jigsaw, put on mugs and in frames around the office. This was considered implementation. Horrendous!
What are they?
Do you already have some? If so, do you remember them? The values of the business should be a kind of shorthand describing what you stand for and believe in. They should be memorable phrases that people can relate to, not just arbitrary words. If you’ve got it right they’ll describe the attitudes that people can expect when they work for you and buy from you. For example, Jamie Oliver’s are: Keep it simple. Give it your all. Enjoy yourself. Think fresh. Grow with us.
Why do we need them?
They give personality to your business. Because they describe what you stand for, you’ll attract the right employees, those that fit, those that stay. You’ll also attract the right type of customer. Both employees and customers will feel as if they connect with you on a deeper level, increasing loyalty. Values also help make you stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Don’t take it from me, take it from Steve Jobs, he said:
“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So, we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”
How do we choose them?
It depends on the size of business, but please avoid sitting round the board table and just deciding what they are then telling everyone else in a rather dictatorial fashion. It’s very difficult to implement them successfully this way.
Working on values is a great opportunity to run a series of small workshops involving every single employee. There are so many side benefits to these that they are often a great idea e.g. increasing employee engagement, breaking down silos, increasing teamwork and, in turn, productivity. Introduce the idea of values, explain how they benefit the business, ask the opinions of your team. They instantly feel more valued which will make the job of implementing your new values so much easier.
Create a cross functional team to drive anything value related. This will really help with implementation too. After the workshops are complete this team can be responsible for agreeing a first draft and then helping to implement once agreed.
Remember, values must reflect the experience the business gives.
What do we do with them?
Some believe these should be shared with employees and customers alike. Others think that these should be purely for internal use. Whatever you decide, clear communication is key. Marketing and HR are already working much closer together than ever have before, and this is another reason for them to continue to do so.
Do you have any values, what are they, when was the last time you assessed them? Are they true to life and how do you know? If you need help with answering any of these questions, please get in contact firstname.lastname@example.org.