If someone asks you what your company values are, will you be able to give them an answer?
One of the first things you should do when structuring your business for success is to set company values. These shouldn’t be something you might come up with when you have the time – they must be part of the fabric of your business, influencing every decision you make and steering you in the right direction.
But why are these values so necessary and how do you go about choosing them?
Why Your Business Needs Values
Every large and successful business has a set of core values that they live and breathe by, and so should you. Why? Because values offer a defined base for your business so that both employees and clients know who you are, what you’re about and where you want to be.
With 80% of fortune 100 companies sharing their company values publicly, it’s vital your business doesn’t get left behind.
Values help to give your business an identity and stand out amongst the competition while also serving as a rallying point for your employees. The values you choose should also help determine how your business operates both internally and externally. Without values in place, finding direction and achieving success can be hard!
So take that first step and commit yourself to the cause – but to do so, you need to follow a few simple steps that could be the difference between creating good values and great ones.
Values aren’t something that can be chosen for you. You need to work them out for yourself, and to do that, a number of steps need to be followed so that you end up with relevant and actionable values your business really cares about.
Who Chooses the Values
Depending on your business, these values can either be selected by the business owner or determined collaboratively by a team of key decision makers in your business.
When coming up with values as a team, be prepared to brainstorm and start by throwing out what’s important to each person individually. When you’re making these decisions in a team environment, everyone in the group should feel comfortable expressing their ideas freely and know that their contribution will be considered.
How to Choose Values
As an individual, a great place to start is to think about what really bugs you and discover why those things bother you so much. It’s only here where you’ll find what really matters to you, and ultimately, what matters to your business.
For example, if dishonesty and unethical business practices really irks you, honesty and integrity may be good values to consider. If you avoid working with businesses that are unprofessional, professionalism could be a great choice for your firm. Do you hate having to deal with businesses that always seem to avoid or pass the buck when a problem arises? Accountability could be another excellent value choice to counteract this.
Cutting Down and Refining Your Values
Once you’ve chosen a set of values, the next step is to work out if these values are relevant and can be practically applied to your business. The values you choose need to mean something and resonate with your organisation. When people think about your brand, the values you have selected should be a logical fit.
After going through the process of picking values, you’ve probably ended up with a pretty long list of ideas. Keeping relevancy and practicality in mind, start cutting down the options and refine your vision. Most businesses end up with 5 to 10 key values, but the amount you decide to keep is really up to you.
How you structure your values can vary too. You could have a list of single keywords to represent your values or you could go more in depth with phrases. Another option is to consolidate all your values into one paragraph or mission statement.
Business Values Examples
Let’s delve a bit deeper into the three business value examples mentioned above. Do keep in mind however that rather than claiming these values as your own, every business is different and it’s vital that you put the time and effort in to create values that your business can take ownership over.
Honesty – No one likes working with a dishonest company that lies to and manipulates their customers. When your business chooses honesty as a value, you’re making a conscious effort not to fall into this category.
From here, you can put actionable steps in place to ensure that your honesty and integrity is maintained through all areas of your business such as your marketing efforts and customer service processes.
At the end of the day, if you’re not honest in business with the people you’re working with, then you shouldn’t be in business!
Professionalism – This speaks volumes in businesses. How you and your staff conduct yourselves in the office and with clients will rub off on your business image as a whole. Professionalism goes hand in hand with respect, as respecting your colleagues and your clients plays a huge part in being professional.
Professionalism can also extend further than each individual’s conduct and behaviour. It can also mean having a tidy and well-presented office as well as official branded company document templates and email signatures to clearly define yourself as a professional organisation.
Accountability – There’s no room for excuses. As a business owner, you have ultimate responsibility and accountability over everything in your business. When one element fails, the buck ultimately passes to you. But this value also extends to the rest of your team, and every team member has a level of accountability relevant to their specific role.
Everyone should know exactly what they are accountable for and how to handle the situation. If not, then when something goes wrong, everyone will keep passing the buck and nothing will end up being done about the problem.
When you’re entirely accountable for your actions, that’s when you’re in control. Being accountable for what you do and how you do it puts you in the driver’s seat. Without accountability, you’re just sitting in the passenger seat making excuses for things that have gone wrong, and you’re not in control of where that car is going.
Delivering on Your Values
Simply creating values isn’t the end of the process – you must deliver on them!
When values are selected appropriately, they should constantly be referred to when making key decisions about the business. It’s vital that the decisions you make are well aligned with those values, because if you can’t deliver on them, then they’re worthless and hold no weight in your business. Not following your core values also reeks of dishonesty, potentially tarnishing the reputation of your business.
These values need to be effectively communicated to your team. If not, how are they going to be implemented throughout the business? Similarly, if the wider organisation can’t identify with the values you’ve laid out for them, you can lose credibility and come across as being detached from the day-to-day goings-on of the business.
But despite the risks associated with creating and implementing values you don’t follow through with, the benefits of creating real and tangible values your company can really get behind is immense. Values can unify your team, and they will know exactly what’s expected of them and their teammates – making a huge and positive difference to your company culture.
Re-evaluate Your Values
As you probably know, developing values is just one small piece of a very large pie. Owning and running a business is a forever evolving process. So once your values are implemented, consider re-evaluating them every few years to see if they’re still relevant to your business and your direction.
Company values can change for many reasons such as a shift in overall focus, changing company culture, economic climate, new target market or new product lines for example. Once you determine the factors impacting your values, pinpointing the ones to change or remove should be pretty clear.
Even if you haven’t made any significant changes to your business, it’s still worthwhile to re-evaluate your values every few years. Sit down with your team or business coach to discuss how each value has been implemented in your company, and its significance in your current company structure. Looking at each value with fresh eyes can help you further perfect and refine your values.
Need Help Choosing & Delivering on Your Values?
There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it, and when it comes to developing values, there’s no better place to turn than a business coach.
A business coach has the unique perspective of looking at your business from the outside in, and this can be invaluable when it comes to developing your values. Having a new perspective outside of your organisation could help you and your team see the bigger picture and see things in a different light, to help create more relevant and practical values for your business.
At Keystone Executive Coaching, not only will we help you discover the values that matter most to you and your business, but we will also encourage you to put measures in place to deliver on those values.
Once company values are in place, you can then move on and focus on your broader processes and goals, and with our help, we can give you the support you need with an approach that puts your business ahead of the crowd.Tags: business coach Business Strategy business success