One of the benefits of working with so many clients over the years is you get exposed to an awful lot of company values.
And, sadly, far too many can be bland, insincere, generic and occasionally vacuous. If we had a pound for every time we’ve seen integrity, teamwork, care, customer first, …..… we’d be a little more prosperous.
So, if you’re ever involved in developing values here are 10 thoughts on how to give them some venom.
- Values aren’t consensually created. They’re a set of beliefs and behaviours fundamental to achieving your company’s vision and ambition. So never do them off the back of a HR sponsored staff survey. Involve your key leadership team or a group that you think reflects the best of the business but stop there.
- Kick off by mapping the language. Spend some time looking at other organisations and root out all those recurring clichés and ban them. Afterall you’re looking for a set of differentiating values.
- You shouldn’t need more than 5 values.
- Break the rules and consider using words that are out of context - they’re more sticky. We recently met a company who had “grit” as one of their values. There were 5 strong values but that’s the one I still remember.
- Invent words; they’re more ownable. We have great friends who have Happenability as one of their values – they get stuck in, they make things happen, they bring it to life. Get the picture.
- Do the joke test. Every company has it’s cynics so check out the obvious gags and avoid them.
- Do the longevity test. In 50 years will you still be proud of those values; live by them, swear by them. They shouldn’t need to change.
- Make the values part of the company DNA. Desk drops and mouse mats are not DNA.
- Make the values part of the performance metrics, measure them and build them into the appraisal, bonus and reward structure.
- Create teams across the business tasked with coming up with ways the values might change how they work. Implement the big wins and timetable the others.
Hope that’s of some use. It’s never an easy task but having strong, differentiating values that are embedded in a business will provide focus, help deliver consistent brand experience and align everyone behind the company ambition.
Posted by Paul Watson – Co-Founder and Managing Director