As a consulting firm, we frequently facilitate strategic planning workshops. Company values are one of the key outputs of the sessions. As a result, we have seen a diverse range of outputs, but what is the point in having values? What value do they add to your organization and how do you utilize them?
Well, according to scholars (Shalom Schwartz, 2012), values have the following characteristics:
Values transcend specific situations.
We prioritize our values in order of importance to us.
When values are activated, they evoke strong feelings.
The impact of values in everyday decisions is rarely conscious.
Values enter awareness when contemplated actions create conflicts among our values.
One thing is for certain; we have never come across a client that is happy to adopt another organizations values. However, we have noticed common themes in the numerous values we have established. With the majority falling into the following five categories:
Personal and organizational enhancement/success
Adaption to change
Betterment outside of the organization
And well… hedonism
You may notice some of these categories do not align with your preference, and that is a good start in defining your own personal values. Our company values align with these categories. So why not just copy ours, print your strategic plan and be done with values? Truth is, our values probably would not work for your business, unless you have the same objectives and culture as us. If your values are not aligned to your business, it is difficult to gain the benefits of having them to begin with.
Here are the top 5 benefits of defining your values and how you can utilize them to empower your organization:
Understanding who you are
While the Delphi technique can be useful in helping to determine values, the temple of Apollo at Delphi proclaims an additional piece of wisdom; know thyself. Your values are a vital component in defining who you are. Understanding your organizational values and who you are, clarifies and simplifies your ability to make decisions inline with your organizational objectives.
Advancing organizational culture
As mentioned in our partner Pavestep's blog, an important element of scaling company culture is for leaders to embrace and promote the organizations values. Values are your organizations foundation, one that needs to endure growth, change and scrutiny. When done right, utilizing values as a foundation, creates an environment where culture can be built, thrive and last.
Values can help provide guidance on the suitability of potential employees. For example, one of our values is that we are respectful and inclusive. If potential candidates did not exhibit these behaviours or agree with this value, then they are not likely a good fit for our business. Values are a consistent and rigid filter for vetting potential staff, regardless of the position they are applying for.
Personnel performance management
As with onboarding, values should be utilized during performance evaluations. This is a great opportunity to get feedback from staff and they are embracing the values of the organization. Staff will usually align with some values, as opposed to all of them. This is typically dependent on roles/responsibilities. Rewarding these alignments, as opposed to punishing a lack there of, results in an increase in employee engagement and role satisfaction.
Your organization is likely working on numerous projects and delivering a range of services, which can be initiated and prioritized by a range of methods. When prioritizing services and projects, your values should be considered. Which align best and which conflict. Working in alignment with your values will allow you to achieve your objectives sooner.
Based on the above points, there is definitely value in values, though they need to be well defined and utilized. So revisit, revitalise and restore your corporate values, and reap the benefits of streamlined focus and enhanced culture.