Most business leaders are people-and-culture-savvy enough to know that ensuring their company vision and values exist and that they are visible and well-communicated, often. For most it now rings true that having a set of core company values strengthens teams and businesses and results in bottom line impact (of the positive variety). As a result, what used to be considered very much on the ‘fluffy’ end of the spectrum when it comes to business initiatives, is thankfully no longer such a hard-sell for HR and we’re seeing ‘values’ initiatives frequently discussed and prioritised at the ‘top table’.
Just how we arrive at a core set of company values that get maximum ‘buy in’ and that strengthen workplace culture is different for every business. As is often the case, is all in the execution. We’d like to share our observations on what ‘good’ looks like when it comes to creating core company values that strengthen your team and your business.
Recap – why values matter.
Core values define the behaviours that you want in your business – the behaviours that will create the culture you want and that will take your business in the direction you want it to go.
A strong set of well-lived, well-aligned values will support in attracting ‘like-minded’ people to work for you; they’ll set clear expectations with your people as to just ‘how we do things around here’ and after a time of people deciding whether they resonate and they’re bought in or not, you’ll have a more cohesive and effective, and engaged team – operating on the same page, headed in the same direction.
So you know you need them. How do you create a set of values that resonate?
What you don’t do is take this all on yourself. Sure, the vision and “the why” of your business should be dreamed up and owned by you as the leader. The trick is then in disseminating this effectively throughout the business so that everyone knows what it is, believes it, gets how they contribute to it and can get behind it. It becomes about effective organisational communication and your skills as a leader in getting the desired ‘buy in’.
When it comes to understanding what your company values are, this is something you as business owner/leader don’t have to – and shouldn’t – do alone! Quite the opposite – this is about your team, and ‘picking their brains’ as to what brings them to work each day, what they believe the essence of the business to be about, what they’re proud of and what they believe they do well as a team to contribute to the business’s success. The ‘words’ should be their voice, their tone and in language that they ‘get’. A top down approach, where you as leader articulate what you would like the values to be and give everyone a copy for their desk… is a start… but it’s very unlikely to get anyone very excited, let alone achieve what you’re setting out to achieve: setting and changing behaviour, strengthening workplace culture and ultimately, determine business direction!
Beware of ‘death by committee’ – where great initiatives go to die! This is what happens to so many creative and innovative ideas that aren’t properly project managed through a process. So, we are saying consult with your team and get their ideas to have the best shot of getting their ‘buy in’ to your values. But, we’re not saying let bureaucracy take over! You’re still in control and have the ultimate say on what your ‘values statements’ will be, as it’s important the behaviour aligns with your business direction.
A great ‘values discovery’ process could take many forms depending on how big your team is, where your people are located (ie: can they physically be in the same room together, at the same time?), how much time is practical to invest in the process and many other factors. You may be able to have a trained facilitator run a series of interactive workshops with your team(s), you may do a ‘DIY’ version of this or you may be able to simply ask for your team’s thoughts and suggestions. A survey is another option. Whatever the option you choose, the key part is to consult and talk with your people!
Coming up with the words is then just ‘Step 1’ in strengthening your team and your business. Integrating your values into your ‘everyday’ is ‘Step 2’ to really bring them to life – through your recruitment processes, induction processes, in your team meetings and performance appraisals and discussions, as well as within your rewards and recognition programmes and team celebrations.
So here’s a challenge for you: take action to ensure your company values exist, and do so far beyond just words.
Of course, our team of HR experts are always here to help if you need a hand. Call us on 0800 4 POD HR.
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