Do You Recognize Your Company’s Values?
Values are desirable qualities and norms that form the pattern of the company’s thoughts and actions. Being aware of the own business values is essential to make important business influencing decisions. How to recognize and align your company’s values is described in this blog.
It is important for values to be created in a company and implemented on all levels. These values are directly linked to the company’s essence and join with it to form its foundation.
Values are not immediately visible. They are not revealed in words and proclamations but through action and behavior, especially in conflict situations.
Problems regularly arise when words and actions do not concur. From the employees’ perspective, this is often the case in companies.
How can a company really apply its values and how can it ensure that employees do not experience a discrepancy between its words and actions?
Leaders play a pivotal role in this regard.
They lead the way and their leadership team, and ultimately all executives in the company, will follow suit. The core values must be shared and actively practiced by all key functions in the company. Otherwise, staff will ask: “If ‘those guys at the top’ don’t observe them, why should we?”
Leaders set the pace. They create the standards. It doesn’t matter whether they are in charge of salespeople, engineers, or creatives. They will only be as disciplined, driven, focused, and consistent as the person leading them. The speed, quality and culture of the pack are determined by the leader. In other words, the most important, but also the most underused and most frequently violated, leadership principle is leading by example.
How do good leaders identify their company’s distinct values?
One way to develop them is by holding a leadership workshop involving not only executives, but also selected employees, or “culture carriers.”
At the workshop, answers to the following questions should be discussed:
- What values point to the origins of the company?
- What positive stories do people tell about the company?
- What values are linked to the company’s essence?
- What values do the leader and the leadership team represent?
- What values are important for the long-term survival and prosperity of the company?
- What values will tie employees to the company long-term?
This leads to the question as to whether a company must embody certain values to guarantee its long-term success. In other words, are there such things as “winner values?” The answer, according to renowned Stanford professor Jerry Porras in “Built to Last,” is no. He studied a large number of successful companies and found that each has its own individual value mix. However, two things are important in this respect:
First, values must be “embraced,” meaning that executives and their teams consistently act in accordance with these values.
Second, companies should not change their values every few years; rather the unique value mix should be part and parcel of the corporate culture.
According to Porras, this is an essential difference between the best companies and those that are less good. Only if a company embodies its distinct values in the long term will they be perceived by employees and customers as guiding principles.