Creating Business Values
You will learn
- The impact a value statement can have on your business
- How to work out your company values
- How to incorporate your values into your business
When considering how to develop business values, it important to remember that it is not just useful from a staff engagement perspective: it will affect how customers see the business, how it manages its processes, who it recruits in to the business and how staff are managed once they are in. However, it can be difficult to plan out how you intend to develop company values within your team. So, how do you go about doing this?
I have a client who has just gone through this exercise. The business is a social enterprise, selling new and used furniture, recycling old furniture, and designing office spaces. It employs about 12 staff, and the CEO is a value-driven person who wanted to find out whether her staff had shared values, and if so, what they were. To do this, she asked staff, customers, suppliers, any other stakeholders, to say what they felt summed up her business. She then put these in to a “wordle” (an app that puts words in size order according to their frequency of use) and she got this:
- Do things the right way
- Stand out
- Help people
- Have fun
These are the values that reflect the CEO and the business. Now the core values have been established and confirmed, they can be used in all the business processes, from recruitment to performance management. More information on this can be found here.
Asking key stakeholders to sum up the business is a great example of how to develop core values: from the bottom up.
There is no single right way to develop your business values; each business will be different and have different values. If you are a small business, any values are bound to reflect you; your vision for the business; what is important in your business to make it great; the image you want to project. You may develop these values yourself, or, like the example I used, ask others who have been exposed to the business.
Questions you could ask of trusted stakeholders are:
- How would you describe the organisation and the way it does business in three words or phrases?
- What do you see as the core values that underpin the way this organisation does business?
- How do you experience those values in action - can you give examples?
- Are there any gaps between what the business says and what it does - are there any specific examples?
- Does your experience of working with the business vary depending on the people you deal with?
Share the answers to these questions with your employees. Then, with your employees, decide on which words and phrases best reflect the company. If it is a larger business, perhaps use focus groups to develop the values from the information you have got.
If employees are involved in the development of the values, they are more likely to be engaged with them and to reflect those values.
Perhaps more importantly is, once developed, how these values are used. If they are just words on a poster or on a website, then they are meaningless. A CEO of a global US-based company which I worked at would always say he wanted the values to “live” and be used in everything we did. He never wasted an opportunity to say this, and when developing policies, the values were always something to draw on and point to.
In the “Best Places to Work” survey, 97% of the 100 best places to work had value statements, put their values at the heart of everything, and put their business success down to having values.
So, having developed your values, it is important to make sure that these are communicated properly and the behaviour of everyone in the business, including you, reflects those values. If employees see that only lip service is paid to the values, cynicism will prevail and business performance will reflect this.
Build your business around your values, and maybe you will be in the next top 100 best places to work.