Start with a statement about the value, then clarify the value by adding the words, “which means that …” and add details about specific behaviours or attitudes that people can understand. Think in terms of behaviours that are observable. Describing values in terms of specific behaviours allows you to easily acknowledge and encourage employees who demonstrate behaviour that is in the company’s interest and to reprimand those that don’t meet your standards. Clarity of your values will dramatically improve your hiring and selection of future employees.
Here are a couple of examples.
A value statement may look something like this:
AT ABC company our focus is on our customers, or, we are a customer focused company.
This statement in it’s own doesn’t mean much. Here’s how you might add clarity:
At ABC company our focus is continually on our customers.
Which means that:
- In conversations with our customers, we seek first to understand, then be understood
- We put our customer’s needs first: we will interrupt the task at hand to connect with a customer, and ensure their needs are being understood and addressed
- We use an outside-in perspective – growth comes from looking at opportunity through the eyes of our cus- tomers, our partners and alliances
- We see through the eyes of those whose lives we affect, identifying unmet needs and producing innovative and lasting solutions. We bring to this task all our experience and knowledge as the unique individuals we are
Your values don’t need to be complicated. Here’s a simpler version of a value statement:
At ABC company, we believe that Reliability is critical to our success both personally and professionally.
We do what we say we’re going to do. It’s about action, not talk We show up on time
We say please and thank you
Or you may have a value statement about teamwork. You can clarify the term “teamwork” by adding:
Which means that …
- When confronted with a problem or new opportunity, our natural instinct is to collaborate with others whenever time and resources allow.
- We support and respect one another
- Team success means individual success
Which means that … we like clear conversations.
Here’s an interesting one I saw recently:
At ABC Co. we believe Success is a Choice. If you write 4-5 clarifying statements attached to this idea I think you would have a very powerful value statement for your business.
There are countless ways of writing your values. Start with a few that resonate with you that reflect how you expect others to behave in your company where these core behaviours will contribute to your long term vision for your company.
You could do a critical assessment of the core values that exist today in your company and think about the changes you would like to see in the future. Write your core values in terms of the new standard you want to see in the future.
Once you have a set of values that you are comfortable with, we suggest you review them from time to time. You will find that the descriptions you use will improve in clarity and understanding with each revision. Publishing a refreshed version from time to time will also keep this aspect of your business plan top-of-mind and relevant for all employees.