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We all know that company values are critical to any organisation that is committed to team alignment and engagement. They are put in place to guide internal behaviour and drive a successful culture.

Over the last few years we have seen company values move from the traditional and predictable choices of honesty, integrity and customer service to more of a trendy casual feel, like hustle, think big or fun! Not forgetting the regular use of swear worlds to really funk them up! These cool company values are spreading the walls of ‘cool’ office spaces around the world. I’ve seen them displayed in lights, hanging from ceilings and carved in to walls!! Company values are well and truly ‘in’!

As a big believer in the importance and power of company values I’m all for this, however the coolness of the word and the way it is displayed is ultimately just aesthetics. They often don’t really do anything other than wow visitors and new employees.

The real power of company values is how they are actually used on a daily basis. Just like our vision and mission, the values are not just fancy words on a wall, they are a tool in our business toolkits. If we can’t pull them out to use them when we are stuck what’s the point?

Let me explain!

At wattsnext we spend a lot of time helping clients create their company values, in fact it’s probably one of our most sought-after services and the reason is because we are not a marketing department. Company values are not about marketing to our customers or employees or presenting a brand. They are about guiding an employee when they don’t know how to behave or what to do. Which means it may not come naturally! They also must be a behaviour that is critical to achieving the company vision and mission.

Time and time again we are guiding companies away from words that sound cool but actually have no connection to what their company is trying to achieve. Meaning that even if they lived that value day in and day out it would have no impact on achieving their vision!

Secondly companies seem to want values that they are already awesome at living or is a given. What use is it having values that are natural behaviours (or at least should be to stay in business) like honesty and customer service! It’s a waste of wall space!

When choosing values, we should be looking for behaviours that we are weak at or find challenging in times of stress but are absolutely critical to the company’s success. This is when they really become a tool that guides behaviour to get results.

For example, we implemented a value at wattsnext very early on because I noticed it was a weak spot for us. The value is ‘we have the confidence to tell it as it is’! I was finding that being extroverted consultants more than anything we wanted our clients to be happy and to like us. Fair enough! Unfortunately, this was leading us to sometimes tell our clients what they wanted to hear rather than what they needed to hear! This was not only making it very hard for us to get results for our clients but was also doing them a disservice. Whilst at the time they may like us more and we can all be friends, in the long run their business would suffer and we wouldn’t achieve the results they actually need. So now as we work with our clients and have to deliver advice or news they don’t want to hear, we know we must have the confidence to tell it as it is because that is actually what they are paying us for. I have called upon this value many times for myself and my team when naturally we want to shy away from the difficult conversation. We are committed to living our values, and this one, like the rest, is there for a reason and it absolutely makes sure we deliver upon our mission and vision.

What are the critical behaviours in your business that must be lived to achieve YOUR company vision that are not natural expected human behaviours?

Any company I run I expect people to be honest, have integrity, and give excellent customer service. But courage to get on the skinny branches which is a critical wattsnext value is not as important in my kids tech platform business. Being playful and silly in our thinking is more important so we can put ourselves in kids shoes! Values should be as individual as your business is.

When creating your company values, before you start brainstorming funky words and wall designs first do these three things. Then you are ready to get your creative juices flowing (using another wattsnext value!)

  1. take the marketing department off the values creation team
  2. List the behaviours you currently live and breathe perfectly, give yourself a pat on the back and then cross them off the list of possible company values
  3. List what attributes you MUST display to achieve YOUR company vision and mission and put them on the ‘our potential values list’…and if you aren’t living any of these now put a big red star next to them as they should be shortlisted!

Now you can start!

Coming up… I will share with you how you then go about actually implementing these into your company DNA…in addition to the cool wall art!!