V Is for... Values

V Is for... Values

24 June, 2021 - The Purpose Index · Defining Purpose, Organisational Purpose

Values in a personal context guide who we are and what we do. But how do values operate in the context of organisations? Is there any power to a good set of values that emanate from a business's core?

TLDR:

  • Organisational values are the core principles of the business
  • These values are increasingly vital for businesses to be successful
  • Businesses should choose values that reflect who they are now and who they are working to become
V is for Values 

What Are Organisational Values?

These are fundamental principles often tied to the ethics of the business. They give direction on the business strategy at a very deep level. Values can exist as something identified, often written down in employee handbooks and external brand communications, but they often operate more organically. In other words; organisations might state their values, but their actions will demonstrate more effectively whether they practice what they preach.

In companies that have effectively understood and nurtured the values that best reflect their employees, customers, and business goals, it’s easy to identify the principles that everyone operates by. That doesn’t necessarily mean that these principles are the work that the organisation does; an organisation could champion ‘community’ as a value, despite being a food and beverage producer and doing very little with community projects.

Why Are Organisational Values Important?

Some startups are quick to skip the ‘build your values’ part of company creation, whilst larger companies tend to pick buzz words that mean more on paper than they do anywhere else. In both cases, the power of organisational values can be massively underestimated.

The most well-oiled organisations run on alignment and coherent comprehension of why each employee does what they do. The values are the essence of the team and become a unique character trait that attracts long-term employees and life-long customers.

Employees understand their employers better when they know (and mostly agree with) the values that the company champions. They get a stronger sense of security and also are more likely to feel more fulfilled.

Common Organisational Values

Integrity and Ethics

In practical terms this means behaving in a manner that is fair, truthful, responsible, and kind. Businesses that are inherently good will have strong, lasting relationships with all their stakeholders, and will be viewed as a trusted business in their sector.

Respect

Another fundamental value is respect. This is demonstrated consistently by the organisation in the way it treats employees, customers, partners, suppliers, and itself. An organisation practices respectful business when it invests time, effort, and care in protecting workers' rights, speaking out on behalf of the community it serves, and always choosing to treat people with dignity.

Authenticity

Businesses that are true to what they say they are, are considered most authentic, even if the product they sell is a knock-off from the original. The fundamental principle here is that businesses must speak the truth about who they are and what they do.

Accountability

Organisations that hold themselves accountable for their actions are greatly respected by the general public, because it rarely feels as if apologies for mistakes are genuine. By assuming responsibility for actions and decisions, good or bad, businesses can hold themselves accountable and remedy their mistakes as soon as possible.

Growth Mindset

Employees who feel scared to make mistakes, take the initiative, or step out of line tend to leave quicker than those who are encouraged to grow in their role. Organisations that invest in employees' well-being, development, and growth tend to develop a healthy 'stickiness', in which juniors become directors over the span of a career, and customers become ambassadors for the business.

Community and Unity

Without a community, businesses would struggle to exist. Today, community values intertwine strongly with community expectations of good business behaviour. Communities, made up of employees and customers, work best in harmony and when they feel valued, heard, and part of the team.

Which Values Work Best?

There are thousands of values to choose from, and companies sometimes won’t even pick from the most common ones listed above. Instead, obscure, but well-fitting, principles are outlined, applied, and used to identify the business’s unique character and purpose. The best values for the best are those that are authentic to the business and those that push the business to grow and improve.