We all know someone that is a rule breaker. They love to challenge, push the boundaries, explore deeper waters and if determined enough show the quicker or better way to get something done.
These days organisations are encouraging entrepreneur spirits, creativity and innovation, and values can act as a barometer that keeps everyone in check, including the rule breakers.
Values create context rather than rules, it also gives staff purpose at work. Values are things that we do. They are what you are when you are at your best.
In the past week, I have delivered two workshops, one to a company that has defined values and one to a company that does not.
The company who had a set of values established quicker commonalities amongst each other which led them to help each other solve their own problems. They knew where they stood and made decisions with confidence. Overall their environment felt like a safe place to speak up and contribute and everyone seemed to accept each other more on an equal level regardless of the organisational hierarchy.
The company that had no values took longer to collaborate and see things from each other’s point of view. There was much confusion around what good looked like and it was obvious that it looked different for everyone; leading to greater risk of inconsistency. There was more judgement and defensiveness as people’s opinions held greater weight in the absence of any set values. There were too many different things to focus on when trying to engage their frontline staff and improve performance. They were desperate for clarity and direction.
Customers are no longer just interested in the value that you deliver; they are also interested in the values that you hold as an organisation. I get the sense in Australia in particular that values are still seen on the cheesy side of things. Hmmm, I think we need a bit more cheese actually, we aren’t THAT good!
Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks summarised nicely why organisations need values.
“The only thing we have is one another. The only competitive advantage we have is the culture and values of the company. Anyone can open up a coffee store. We have no technology, we have no patent. All we have is the relationship around the values of the company and what we bring to the customer every day. And we all have to own it.”
If you need a little inspiration to get started on setting values, I’ve provided a quick guide below from my recent experience with clients on what works and what is most effective.
1. Decide on them collaboratively
2. Socialise them with as many people as possible before locking them in
3. Make sure the words chosen are verbs. You want them to be doing words. Some words like ‘respect’ are both a noun and a verb.
4. Have a strapline or mantra to bring the verb to life (even if it’s a little bit cheesy)
5. List key behaviours of what the value looks like when in action
6. For quick recall give each value an image or an icon to help people remember it
7. Communicate them throughout the business to all levels (make the first time you do this a big deal, a celebration)
8. Refer to them daily when making decision
You will be surprised how much of a positive impact this will have on your organisation if executed correctly. We are at the end of day creatures who crave social bonds and connections. Values connect people.
Additionally, having values helps talented leaders decide if your workplace is right for them and if there is an alignment with their personal values. Speaking from experience when this takes place in your life you are in a serious sweet spot.
‘Why serve when you can inspire’