Our values are a set of beliefs that make us behave in a certain way. It is our system of values that determine how important something is to us or how much value it adds to our lives.
We have both intrinsic values, such as fairness and integrity, and then we have extrinsic values which drive us to achieve certain outcomes, such as achievement, accountability and determination. Although deeply ingrained in us, our values can change over time as we go through life.
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.”
How do personal values differ from a company’s values? Very often, people look for a company whose values mirror their own. A company’s values are often based on its founders’ and will often evolve with its employees and leaders. Values will dictate the company’s culture and this will filter into how the company behaves internally and externally.
Decision making is intrinsically linked to your values, therefore the values of your company hugely affect your business.
Setting up company values is not an academic exercise. It’s about how you want your business to be perceived, how you want your operations to run, and how you want your employees to behave.
There are 3 key areas to consider when establishing your company values:
- Know your own values
Your business is an extension of who you are. Your values will dictate what feels right or wrong for you. When you go against your value system, you will find yourself losing energy and motivation. It is important to know yourself and your set of values before you begin developing your company’s values. This will make it easier to stay true to yourself and what you believe in.
- Engage your employees
It is vital that you involve those who are a reflection of your company. It is important to learn how they see the values of the business, and what values they would like the company to demonstrate. You want your people to feel that the business is as much an extension of themselves as it is of you. The closer the company’s values are to that of your employees, the more affinity they will feel toward the company and the greater their levels of job satisfaction. This, in turn, will lead to greater commitment and loyalty to the business resulting in higher productivity and greater business success.
- Find out how your clients and suppliers see you
It is really important to take into consideration how you are perceived by your stakeholders. This involves gauging how your business values resonate with them. This should be an interesting exercise and should help guide you as to how you want and don’t want to be seen. This can be achieved via an online or simple survey that checks in on the level of respect you have from your suppliers and clients or those who interact with your business.
When you feel your business is aligned with who you are, you feel confident about your company’s operations. When your employees have been part of your process, they will feel a greater affinity to the company. It carries their values and ethos, and they feel that they are a part of it. When your values correlate with how you want your clients and suppliers to see you, you will attract those with the same moral compass as you.
Company values are not a document or simply placed on the wall of the reception area. They are the fibre that holds the business together, each employee at a time.
To develop values that resonate with your business and employees, contact SA Business Coaches.