How to Fundamentally Transform Your Business Part 2: Values
I kicked off this blog series by looking at how vision is one of my top five tips when transforming your business. That is, creating a clear and exciting ambition or future goal that everyone in the company can get behind (although it may be slightly different for employees and stakeholders). If you missed that post, nip back and read it here before we move on to top tip number two – values.
People don’t value values, and they’re also a bit confused by what organisational values actually are. Think of values as guiding principles, the bedrock of your culture. All organisations have them whether they like it or not.
An organisations’ values are just a mix of the values of the people that work there. If you haven’t hired or fired on your values then they aren’t values. If you’ve never thought about this before then you’ve either been doing this intuitively and brilliantly, or you’ve got a mess of different people.
Quick note: If someone asks you what your company’s values are and you have to think, then they aren’t values. Try again.
If you’re a small business this process is much easier as you can just think about what your personal values are and project them into the organisation, but when you’re a bit bigger you can’t help but think a bit ‘bigger’. Here’s what failure of this exercise produces:
‘Integrity’ - Hmm... This is what we call ‘permission to play’. Everyone in life needs to have integrity to do pretty much anything, so what’s the point in saying your organisation has ‘integrity’? Reputations are spread at the speed of light and acts which lack integrity propagate like lightning. You don’t need this as a value, as it’s there by default - along with hundreds of others. You wouldn’t list ‘hygienic’ in a dating profile would you?
‘Innovation’ – Or as it’s otherwise known, ‘Stating the obvious’. Name me one business that doesn’t prioritise or at least invest in innovation? I can name loads, but they are now only in management consultants’ case studies of failed business models. Saying that, you can have this if you’re desperate, but only if it’s absolutely at the core of your business.
‘Kindness’ - So you might be a ‘kind’ organisation, if so - awesome, but you might be a ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ style money-grabbing business. Just because a client gave you a bit of feedback doesn’t mean that you can chuck out a new ‘value’ and think people will buy it. They won’t, and it’ll harm your culture. This is called an ‘aspirational value’ and while aspirations are probably why you are reading this article, you need to think long and hard about what it might mean to live this new ‘value’. Square peg, round hole.
Ultimately, having shared values means that your people will work together better. As well as your PR department speaking in one voice, your people will behave in a similar way. This makes you consistent and predictable as an organisation, and that makes you easier to cosy up to.
- In this series of blog posts, I’m going to give you some awesome insight into what some of the biggest organisations still fail to do effectively, and give you the five top tips to fundamentally transform your organisation.