Recognizing The Purpose Of Company Values In Business Planning

In today’s segment I would like to talk about company Values, which is part 2 of your business plan.

Value Statements, we’ve all seen them, typically posted on the walls of the reception area, and elsewhere around the office or plant. So why do companies do this, what purpose do they serve?

A friend of mine calls them the “Rules of the Village”. I like this analogy.

Value statements are most helpful when written in a form that describes key behaviours and attitudes that you require from all employees as a condition of their employment. They are important because they help everyone understand how to “behave” on a day to day basis under any circumstances and changing situations.

As your company evolves, these values influence the culture of the company and add to your overall brand.

Unfortunately, most of these Values documents are written in terms that are vague, unclear, and open to wide interpretation, which is not at all helpful to your employees. And mean nothing to your customers.

At best they are simply ignored or seen as irrelevant. At worst they can lead to conflict within your company, as each employee may have a different interpretation of what is expected of them.

So the key to building a widely understood set of values is being crystal clear what they mean. I also suggest you start with a few, maybe three, that really matter to you, and add as needed over time.

The “Values” section of Plan Genie will help you do this.

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.

Here’s 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 customers, 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 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

Or communication

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 you 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.

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.

Thanks for listening. Please let us know if you have any questions about the Values section of your business plan.

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