Why is it important to have business values and, if you agree that it is, how do you ensure they are well understood?
Values can be defined as the lasting beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture and what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values have a major influence on a person’s behavior and attitude. Within an organisational setting there will be a number of value sets at play, personal, professional and organisational.
Organisations are becoming increasingly more complex, multi-cultural, multi-generational, multi-layered and in a constant stage of change. In smaller organisations business values are usually implicit and communicated by personal actions and conversation. As organisations grow there is a need for these values to be made explicit and communicated throughout the organisation so they can be used to guide decision making and foster the right corporate culture.
If your organisation does not have published values the first step is to start looking at the organisation, what are the implicit values? Talk to staff, clients, suppliers how do they describe the organisation? This is where you are now. Then take a look at the organisations future direction. What does that look like and are the values that came out of the consultation with the stakeholders the ones that will support the organisation to reach its goals?
There is no one uniform set of business values but there are some frequently stated ones. The top ten values most valued by FSTE 100 Companies are:
Once you have agreed the values you need to explain them. Start with a general description. This might be what you put on the company poster. Here are a couple of examples we use in our business game.
|Integrity||Doing what we say we will do, as individuals and collectively as an organisation, and doing it in the right way i.e. by living up to our values and the commitments based on these values. This happens across the organisation and in every activity and business decision.|
|Teamwork||Working with colleagues by listening to individual opinions and valuing what is said. Encouraging and supporting each other and creating positive solutions to individual or group problems through debate and discussion.|
However, this is not enough you need to break these down so they become real. Give examples that are relevant to the different groups within the organisation. In a large organisation a great way to do this is to use ambassadors working in different regions or with different segments of the workforce.
Once the business values have been broken down and communicated across the organisation they need to be used to underpin every activity. For example, recruitment. If the values are communicated to potential applicants then the organisation will have a much better chance of recruiting people whose personal values are aligned to those of the organisation. The result, happier staff, a more cohesive working environment and greater engagement and productivity.
We believe that an organisation with strong business values consistently used to guide decision making is better equipped to survive and thrive.
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