The value of values
Values are a set of beliefs, the norms of a culture and measurements of integrity. They are rules, guides of expected behaviour and promises of service...
When running a business values can form your identity and provide a way of ensuring everyone is on board and are therefore integral.
They can be created from scratch or may exist subconsciously, but for them to work and be engaged with they must be agreed and accepted by all. Plus if they’re to be memorable they need to be clear and succinct. Oh, and they must be written down – they’re there to help make everyone accountable and if they’re just floating around in your head they may as well not exist.
Business leaders want their teams to be as productive as possible and there’s a plethora of case studies out there that tell us that a happier worker is more productive. Having a shared understanding and recognition of values allows people to know what to expect and what is expected of them. Having this transparency is one way to increase the chances of being happy in the workplace.
It’s fair enough (and probable) if some people don’t meet all criteria when you first present your values. In the long run you’re aiming to have everyone on board and values are a positive way of finding out who’s pushing and who’s dragging. People engaged with the values will be extremely motivated by them whereas anyone that doesn’t fit with them will stick out - they’re unlikely to enjoy working there and there’s little doubt this will in turn affect those around them, destroying the environment that values are there to support. After committing to your values it’s unlikely any disengaged people will remain in your employment much longer.
Values can also be used as a marketing tool. Promoting what your business stands for acts as a promise of what will be delivered and what a client can demand. Having values that a prospect or client respects may well be as influential in the decision making process as features or price. Therefore having the right values can give you a competitive advantage.
If this is all new to your business be prepared that it may take time to implement fully. Do not rush the process and do not force a set of rules on people. It’s not uncommon for management to come up with completely different criteria than their staff but everyone must be listened to and included in creating the final set of values. You might be lucky and already have a shared belief system in place but when you finally start living by an agreed set of values the improved atmosphere in your office may be the greatest surprise of all.