Or have you kissed goodbye to yours?
It doesn’t feel that long ago that the creation of a company vision, mission and values was a hot topic; every business you visited had a copy up in reception! If you were really lucky you might have been involved in the process, but for many organisations they were designed by the top team and introduced to the business. Probably with all the best intentions, but without the energy and desire to really embed them into everyday life.
So is it just me, or do values in an organisation seem to be old hat?
I don’t hear them mentioned in the same way as I used to, but wonder if this is because the words have changed and they’re now seen as competences.
So where do you stand on the scale of values being ‘hugely important’ through to ‘no use at all’ to your business?
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I’m a keen supporter of vision and values. Knowing where you are going and what you stand for is hugely important and this, to me, is what having a vision and values is all about. It creates a clear direction of what you want to achieve and how your going to do it. And once you have this in place, it underpins everything else you do in your organisation – whether that is the way you recruit people, how you determine your customer value proposition, your performance management systems, or the way how you communicate with one another.
It also gives people the permission to challenge what happens in the workplace. For example if you have a value of integrity, are you open and honest with everyone you come into contact with? If the answer is ‘usually’ or even ‘no’, you will find that people will start to question what you stand for and you may find that you will lose their trust and respect. And of course this isn’t just relevant for your staff but for your customers too.
I was recently reviewing the values that I set for my business -competent, love, unique and ethical and they are still as important today as they were when I started out. They guide me and help me to become more congruent in the way I work. especially if I have some tough decisions to make. When I’m meeting up with a new client, I ask myself, am I the right person to carry out this work? Will I love working with this client to meet their objectives? Can I create a distinctive outcome that meets their specific needs and finally is this a person with whom I feel that I will have an open and fair business relationship?
Whether you call them principles, values, ideals – we all have them! As we grow up we develop a set of beliefs as to what is right and wrong and these influence our attitudes and behaviours. When you don’t have business values, your people will fall back on their own beliefs to guide them, which creates inconsistencies in the way you are perceived by your customers.
If you don’t have values for your organisation at the moment why don’t you do this fun exercise. Sit down with your team and imagine that you are going to open up a new satelite office in some far off land. You will need to send some of your team to go out there and set it up. Who will you send and why? Agree on who you’d send and then determine the reasons why these people were chosen. What role model traits will they demonstrate? You may create a long list, but distill it to the ones that you feel really describe what your business stands for. And then involve your customers … Ring some of your most loyal customers and ask them to describe why they use you – what it is about your service that makes them return time after time?