Values – why you need them

In business the values are the standards and the uncompromising set of behaviours. Values are what we measure up to and don’t bend. When the values aren’t clear then the standards and boundaries are blurred which causes inconsistencies, frustrations and a fragmented culture.

Your leaders can’t lead effectively if they can’t hold their team accountable to the expectations of the business. Here’s why you need values in your business.

5 key roles the values play in a business:

1.     Set’s uncompromising standards

A value is a defined expectation of behaviour. The value is there for the entire business to live by and align with. These standards or values are ones that are not compromised. If they are compromised and that’s accepted by the leader then others will quickly follow and make a judgment that they are meaningless words on the wall. I strongly encourage my clients to have the values visible as a reminder to everyone this is who we are. However, that is only valuable if the leaders live and breathe it themselves. One of my clients asked me if it’s okay to put them on the back of the staff toilet door. Why not? It’s guaranteed to be seen by the team.

2.     Gives purpose to everything you do

Values give the team a beacon to follow and be guided by. Once the value is defined every system that operates in the business operates in alignment with a value. A client of mine has a value “Developing skills and creativity”. This is then defined by continue learning and improving our craft, share and teach others around you, speak up and value other’s opinions. As a direct result of that value the team has dedicated times throughout the year to play with their creativity and share their ideas, the business owner also brings experts in to teach new skills on a regular basis. This has become part of the culture.

3.     Reflects your brand in the market

Values and what you stand for define your brand. Values help create a community within the business where everyone plays their role collaboratively and respectfully and hopefully with some fun thrown in. This will be reflected to your customers and suppliers and the greater market. There is a local Geelong drive through coffee business called Bean Squeeze that I was telling a client about in a discussion we were having about values. I said to them that I love going there as no matter which of the 8 or so stores I drive through they are always vibrant, friendly and engaging. We decided to look at their website and clear as day their mission is “Leave Happier” and they have four core values. The value I love that is truly felt by me as a customer is ‘uncompromising service’. As a customer I feel it and it clearly defines their brand. They also make it clear to not apply for a job unless you have read the Culture and Values of the business. They know what they stand for and are not willing to compromise.

4.     It pushes you and the team to do and be better

The values are there to constantly raise the bar. I encourage all my clients to talk with their team about the values. What are we doing well? What areas can we do better? And how can we raise the bar? This creates a culture of proactivity rather than complacency. Complacency in any area of our life is the death. One of my clients has a team meeting every week and each team meeting there is an agenda item on a value. One value is picked for discussion. They ask how they have demonstrated it and how the business as whole can do better. The team engage and have open and sometimes frank conversations with each other holding each member accountable to living the values.

5.     Creates ultimate accountability

Values make people accountable to their actions. Are they saying they live the values but go and do something different? A client of mine has a value of Exceptional Professionalism that is defined by being well presented in their uniform, well mannered and respectful in every interaction with a positive attitude and be a collaborative team player. One of her team members reported to her that another team member had been quite aggressive, intimidating and rude to her on a number of occasions. Immediately she was able to have a conversation with the team member and ask how her actions reflected the values. She asked under what value is speaking like that acceptable. She was able to very quickly hold the staff member accountable to the values that she had agreed on.