This article gives 3 tips to help with creating your company values. We have also included a downloadable template to help complete the recommended steps for building company values.
Your company values communicate the “how” behind accomplishing your company’s vision and mission statements. Clear set values help your employees to understand what your company stands for which gives them guidance for their work. As a result, employees are most likely to make decisions that align with the company’s goals. Each of your employees — from top leadership to entry-level — can become accountable for those decisions by asking a simple question: “does this decision reflect our values?” Let’s take a look at the 3 BIG tips we have for building your company values!
1. Ask Important Questions
When you are first beginning to think of your company values there are many questions you can think about and answer to help with the process. As values are not something that should change throughout the course of a company being in business, it is important that this process is not rushed. Rather than starting by thinking of specific values and how your company could fit within their definition, we recommend thinking of your company first and what values fit within your definition. Here are some questions to consider that may help in discovering company values:
- Why are we doing what we do?
- How do we want to accomplish our goals?
- What behaviours or actions would our company value over profit?
- What types of behaviours would exemplify the employees in our organization?
- What is the mindset of our organization?
- How do we make decisions within our company?
- If our company were to grow very quickly and exceed all financial goals, what else would we want to be able to say we accomplished in growing in the organization beyond financial success?
- What are we willing to make significant sacrifices for (i.e. time, money, effort) to uphold our business standards?
- What is something we expect our employees to live by, even when it involves some level of sacrifice?
2. Define Your Values
Once you have decided on your company values, make sure to pair them with clear and concise definitions. This is an essential tip that many companies miss, which ends up taking the value out of their values. Simply having a list of words is not likely to have much impact on the culture of a company or the behaviour of their employees. While employees may be able to list out the company values, they would not have much success in explaining exactly what that value looked like within the company.
Not having a definition for each value also leaves the values themselves open to interpretation, meaning you could ask 5 employees what the value means to the company and you could receive 5 completely different answers. Most of the definitions you receive would not necessarily be bad, however they would not be consistent. Values are unable to guide consistent behaviour if they don’t have consistent definitions. It can also be extremely helpful when communicating company values to pair the definition with stories about everyday behaviours that align with specific values.
Once you have clearly defined values, it is important that you prioritize them by listing them in order of importance – then keep it consistent! This tip becomes especially critical in tricky situations where one value comes into conflict with another. If the company values aren’t prioritized, your employees could find themselves at an impasse, where they are unable to move forward due to the conflicting values and a lack of understanding on how to proceed when this happens.
Disney’s values are prioritized for employees as follows:
A great example of prioritizing values at Disney is shared in an excerpt from “Getting Service Right” by Jeff Toister:
“Everyone had just belted into their seats when a young boy started crying and protesting that he didn’t want to go on the scary ride. The cast member playing the “demented elevator operator” immediately broke out of his character and invited the boy to step off the ride. He assured the boy’s concerned mother that he’d keep a close eye on her son while she enjoyed the ride. When we returned and the elevator doors opened, the cast member was waiting with the now-smiling boy standing next to him.
Disney’s priorities clearly guided the cast member’s actions. Safety is the first priority, and this was evident when he delayed the ride and made sure the boy exited safely. The second priority is courtesy, so the cast member momentarily paused his scripted routine to politely address the young boy and assure the mother her son would be safe. The show is Disney’s third priority, so the cast member quickly resumed his act once the first two priorities were addressed.”
Are Your Values Truly Valued?
You now have our 3 BIG tips on building your company values. It may seem like an easy task to create company values; however, the importance comes in the next steps of living your company values and reinforcing them within your company culture. After all, is there truly any value to your company’s values if they are not believed, embraced, and used to guide decisions?
If you have yet to create your company values, we hope that this article has provided you some important insight into discovering your values. If your company already has their values, then we challenge you to ask the following question: “Are we truly valuing our company values?”
Please download our “Building Company Values” template to start building your values today!
Download the Building Company Values – Template and Guide.