How your business values can help you succeed
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” – Roy E. Disney
When you are setting up your business you want it to reflect what you believe as it grows – and you also want it to stand out from the crowd. Values help with both these which is why they are the foundations of a strong business.
Having clear values that link to how you behave in every aspect of your business will ensure that you act consistently and this is the basis of creating a company that people trust.
As you grow and recruit staff they need to know how to behave and what is most important to you. This means they not only need to know what are the values of the business but also which is the most important so that if there is a need to choose, everyone knows which decision to make.
Say you are a designer then is ‘meeting deadlines’ more important than ‘being right’?
In one company, some managers thought ‘meeting deadlines’ was critical while others thought providing ‘perfect work’ was the priority. This meant that staff didn’t know what to do and customers didn’t know what to expect.
Of course, in a perfect world you achieve both, but when things go wrong you need to know your staff will make the decision you would in the same circumstances.
Being really clear about your values and translating them into how you act also means that you can show how you are different from your competition even in a very crowded market.
Your values and how they translate into behaviour give you a focus for your marketing and what you measure. For example, if your top value is speed of response then you can find ways to monitor it and put the results you achieve in your promotions ‘95% of technical support calls resolved within 8 hours’.
What to do once you know your business values
So you have used our free business values worksheet, you’ve selected your business values and ranked them in order, so what next?
Now is where the work begins you need to bring them to life and embed them across your organisation.
The first thing you need to do is to re-word them to bring them to life, for example, for ‘quality service’ Google has the value ‘Focus on the user and all else will follow’. This has much more meaning than simply we offer good service.
Once you have meaningful descriptions for your values that should bring them to life you need to look at embedding them across your whole business and every aspect of what you do from recruitment and appraisals to training, your policies, your branding and, importantly, what you measure.
If you fail to do this, (for example, you only measure and reward ‘financial results or sales’ while claiming that your top value is ‘good service’) then your staff will translate that your real value is making a profit even if service is impacted. Consequently, your customers will also conclude that your values are just marketing hype and potentially expose this on social media.
Being consistent and ensuring your actions or systems don’t undermine your core values is complicated and requires an objective review of what you are doing and saying.
Whatever the size of your business, from start up to multinational, acting according to your values is critical and will give you a competitive advantage.
Selecting and using your values can be complicated – seek out professional help and support from experts who benefit from their impartial relationship and experience of these matters.