I had a conversation this week about company values, which went along the lines of “what’s the point?” Now this leader leads a large organization and the amount of new business and people awards they win shows how well it is run. So many businesses play lip service to company values; it’s a fair question really. It’s something we think we should do, we create a few, communicate them to everyone and then hide them somewhere in our company website. Job done. So, exactly what’s the point?
It seems easier with personal values you can’t escape them, they run through you like the letters on a stick of rock. We know what is important to us and they help us navigate our way through the world.
The challenge: when we come together as a company we are a wild mix of values; no one’s values are better or worst then anyone else’s but we are all trying to figure out how we can work together. Values work when there is a clear reason for them and people can see the benefit. We need to be able to answer why are we all here? What is this business trying to contribute to the world? What difference are we going to make? We need to get really clear on the why.
When we have done this, then values describe the way we do things around here. The moral compass, which guides the way we work together. People need to buy into them at a heart level as well a rational level. They become the what, which helps to distinguish us from our competitors. When a working culture is pretty special it is because we have figured out our unique way of working together. Without a common backbone to the way we do business then an organization becomes a little like the Wild West and with them it can help become a talent and client magnet and that is the point.