THE VALUE OF BUSINESS VALUES
What do you understand about business values? I once did some work with a vehicle panel repair company that achieved improved loyalty and motivation from their staff agreeing to the company values. But it wasn’t easy, as staff had difficulty applying the values in a pressured environment where customers wanted their cars repaired quickly while trying to make the repairs within the quoted prices. However, the business owner was committed to his values, knowing that this clarity and focus would improve his business. He helped his staff apply the values through staff meetings, one-on-one discussions and emails. The outcomes included increased productivity and profitability, due to work being performed in the desired way, and the customers recommending the business to others.
Business values project your company’s personality, guide your business decisions and affect your work environment. Therefore, your values are valuable! They are not just some ‘fluffy stuff’ that only big companies can afford to do. They are real assets that can help drive your business performance.
Your values form your company’s DNA, your essence. They reflect your business’s, your beliefs, principles and criteria for making decisions. As such, they are critical to the success of your business. Their power to drive business leaders and their teams and the positive effect on profit are often underestimated. The sustainability and worth of a business is a long-game, and the values positively support that approach.
The benefits of having stated values are many. They help you attract and retain desirable customers. People who share your business values are more likely to be attracted to your company and become loyal customers. Your values will also help attract staff with similar beliefs to you, and this is a particularly good outcome as they are likely to be more productive and loyal to your business.
We all have personal values, be it kindness, honesty, loyalty, creativity. Things that are important to us. But what about defining the values your business has? A business owner’s personal values will often be reflected in their business, so it is worth bringing these values to the fore and applying them to the business.
Your values need to be relevant to your industry, business and what you genuinely value as a person. There is no benefit in having values that you don’t subscribe to. Some examples of business values could be:
- Integrity in business dealings
- Excellent communication
- Sustainability and care for the environment
- Innovation and creativity
- Inclusivity and accessibility
To help people understand your values and apply them, they need to be defined. It’s not difficult. Write down a definition for each value and provide one or two examples. An example would be:
Innovation and creativity – We continually look for new ideas to make our products better, improve our customer service and increase our productivity. We are open to ideas from our customers, suppliers and staff. We believe every idea should be heard.
The values then need to be communicated to your staff, contractors, agents and anyone that helps to deliver your services. Without clear communication and explanation of the values, there is a risk that individuals will interpret and apply these values in different ways. The best way to do this is in person, so they can experience first-hand your explanation and belief in these values.
Try to limit your company values to three. People generally have trouble focusing on more than three conceptual things at a time, so two to three values will help focus people’s attention and efforts. Having more than three can also dilute the importance of the total suite of values, so focusing on two or three is more effective.
It is important to incorporate values into the company branding, and marketing to let the world know how your company operates. It also helps to keep you, as the company leader accountable for your stated values.
Review your company policies, procedures, marketing material, contracts and the like through the lens of your values. If any part of your business requires or encourages people to act contrary to the stated business values, then those values will quickly lose credibility amongst your staff and customers.
Of course, you won’t see all the benefits from a ‘values driven’ company immediately, but over time, as your values are consistently applied, your business will reap the rewards.
For help with defining and applying personal and business values, contact me on 0402 843314 or email@example.com