Honesty, integrity, trust should be a given in any business but not what defines its core values.*
Too often we see these words featured as part of a company’s catch cry. They’re stuck up on walls, listed on websites. They even make appearances on logos and taglines.
These words, however, are not the values your company needs to entice new team members or drive your business toward success. They are a philosophy, a way of living and of business. People who don’t embrace these fundamentals are suspicious, underhanded, mean-spirited, closed and in extreme cases should be in jail!
Don’t be mistaken. We place an enormous amount of value on honesty, integrity and building trust within organisations – and written extensively about it. But the core values of an organisation should be word descriptors that really mean something to the people of the company, to be held in high regard, and most importantly, define your point of difference.
The values you put out there are the ones that give you your edge. Human Behavior expert, Dr. John Demartini speaks a lot about the importance of defining personal values because when you live according to your highest values, you become an inspired and awaken genius.
Here’s how Demartini described the importance of values to the team from I Quit Sugar.
“Each individual lives by a set of priorities, a set of values, things that are most important to least important in their life. And whenever they’re living in alignment with what they value most, we increase the probability of living an inspiring and meaningful life.”
When it comes to setting guiding principles for your organisation, it is important to align your personal values with the values of your company, and its culture for success. To do this, your purpose needs to be clear and you need to articulate how your values are actionable on a daily basis.
If you can’t articulate how your purpose, your why or how your values are lived out then you do and will have discord in your organisation. You will have churn, burn out, unhappiness, and you will be almost guaranteed not to have a successful culture. Because when everyone isn’t living and breathing the fundamentals you will be fostering a culture of negativity.
Recently I worked with an organisation where saying good morning on entry has become too hard for its people. Specifically, the senior leaders were not acknowledging the team.
When this becomes the norm, the daily action, it becomes the culture and those who are trying to stay positive will lose their enthusiasm. They may not leave, but they will not be working at their optimum. See how important it is to live your positive values?
We recently highlighted examples of companies living out / demonstrating their values when we wrote about when customer service drives company success culture. One organisation we wrote about is Marriott whose teams are guided by their core values of Putting People First, Pursuing Excellence, Embracing Change, Acting With Integrity, and Serving Our World.
Note: although there is a reference to ‘integrity’ the values are strong, directional and actionable values, and something teams can connect with.
At WYE? one of our values is passion, live your passion. I don’t mean dance on the table passion. I mean love your job/role so much that it drives you to be of great service to your team and ultimately the customers. Another driver in our business is generosity. Being generous with your time, expertise, information, feedback, attention, and curiosity of others. Not thinking of ‘what’s in it for me’ but rather ‘what can I do for them?’
If you’re an accounting firm ‘stability’ could be a great core value.
*We work with hundreds of organisations and sometimes there is a need to highlight the more general ‘vanilla’ values, that keep you out of jail. Often this is because someone in the organisation has acted without integrity, honesty or trust.
Values are how you do things to make you successful and they take time to develop. Start with defining your personal values then the reason – the why – the company exists for you, your team and your customers. Connect with the people in your organisation from your team to your customers, and ask questions. Find out the why and what really matters.
It’s here where you will find what will lead your company to success.