Remember that great TV commercial by BUPA in which people met the healthier version of themselves. Fitter, healthier and happier. Who wouldn’t want to be that version?
As we start 2020, it’s time to ask ourselves if our business is living it's best life? Is it the best version of itself? Or is it straying from best behaviours and as a result suffering?
Assessing or setting your company’s values could be the first step toward bringing everything back into line. Resetting your company chakra, so to speak! And what better time to do it than the start of a New Year!
Values can look and sound like a load of tripe
Most of us have seen company values looking very much like a pie in the sky ‘wish list’ of words that don’t mean much at all to the people associated with the organisation.
The reason those words look like a load of ‘codswallop’ is that they are often broad, clichéd, cover-all terms that don’t relate to what the company actually does, how it operates or behaves. The employees may have had nothing to do with the development of the values and feel no positive sentiment around how the values relate to what they actually do, day to day.
In short, these values are wrong for that company. Nobody’s living them, and nobody’s celebrating them.
So how do you set Values that are right for your company?
Bring the leaders and some of your trusted workers into a workshop. This is integral to the process of setting the right values, garnering buy-in and then living those values to ensure your business benefits with enhanced employee engagement.
Congratulate everyone in the room for being influential in how the business operates. Address the fact that ‘values’ can be seen as awkward and pointless, but the people in your workshop are the trusted few that will decide how your business behaves and ultimately, what drives success. Act as the moderator and ask for input and discussion around your business. What it actually does, how it best goes about doing that, and what makes it great to work there.
The goal of the workshop is to boil down ingredients that make your business great and extract a number of values (no more than 5) for the entire company to embody.
You’re looking for values that everyone can remember and recite. Values that you can reward employees actively delivering upon them. You want values that can be celebrated!
Behind these keywords should be a short sentence as to why that value is important to the company. An example might be "Nimble": We will be nimble in our problem solving, decision making and correction of error in order to best serve our clients and business.
The workshop should deliver up to 5 Values that your employees have devised themselves. They should reflect the behaviours of your company and its people when delivering success.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of setting aspirational values (i.e., how you’d like to be) rather than realistic. Your values must reflect the best version of you, NOW. Otherwise, your employees will not feel engaged with them, and they’ll be meaningless.
"Innovative" may be an example of an ill-fitting value if your company pumps out the same products that have been produced for 30 years, without substantial development or enhancement. While you’d like to be innovative, you may be better served with a value such as "Reliable".
Whilst "Reliable" sounds boring, it’s important that your product lives to this value and your team does too.
Present your Values
It’s really important that once your values are agreed upon and locked down that you make a big point of presenting them (and the thinking behind them) to your organisation.
Consider having everyone from your workshop take part in the presentation to help buy-in.
Put your values up in a common area and encourage people to remember them. Remind your team that you’ll be rewarding those living the values and helping your business be the best version of itself.
Celebrate your Values
The great thing about company values is they’re easy to encourage through celebration. Your employees will be honoured to be rewarded for living and breathing them. Present small gifts of appreciation to those living your values at company meetings, or develop a broader Recognition Program that celebrates your values. It’s easy to find examples of employees being Nimble or Reliable... or whatever your values are.
Positive reinforcement is the best and easiest way to drive more of this behaviour across your business, ultimately driving it toward success.
Review your Values
The only real constant is change. Change in competitive markets, product improvements, technology or operating models. All of these can affect change in your business and what the best behaviours look like when considering success.
For this reason, we encourage you to set in place dates to review your values. This might be annually or every second year in order to decide if they’re still fit for purpose. Don’t change them just because you’re reviewing them. Do ask yourselves if market conditions have changed to a degree that any of our values are redundant or in need of improvement. If so, it’s time for another workshop and presentation to the organisation.
We understand how busy work-life is and how much of a drain on time such exercises seem. However, if a team is engaged, feel like they’re helping steer the company forward and are heard by management, real magic can happen. So make time to set or review your values, make them meaningful, then celebrate the hell out of them! You’ll enjoy it as much as your employees will.