Your business is a good as the image it creates for itself. If you fail to maintain the right values by what you portray to the public, your public image and reputation can be seriously hurt and that can ruin your entire business. Business values help to create an image for your company and you should strive to have a good value system that builds confidence, encourages product trials and ultimately increases business growth.
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Business values encompasses all that your business cherishes, the practices, beliefs, philosophies that guide your business operations and activities. That will include its return policies, money back, support, delivery and complaints handling procedures as well as other practices that can be seen as the way your company works. For instance, if someone makes a purchase and later considers a refund, does he get it and how soon? When there are delays which are not clearly explained to the customer and does not seem clear in the return policy, it can create a bad impression which leads to negative comments and bad mouthing. On the other hand, if everything works as was stated in the company return policy, then confidence is built and overtime, it becomes clear to customers as a value your business cherishes and strives to uphold while dealing with customers.
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A key and very important aspect of making sure your business values work for you is in your communication of those values. It is important that from your website content to physical interaction with customers, your presentation and staff appearance and engagement with visitors and customers should reflect your values. Company value orientation should be communicated in relationships with customers and visitors. For example, it will be absolutely wrong for a front desk officer to raise her voice against a visitor who wrongfully go against the rules if you are an hotel that wants to portray empathy.
So, understanding the role and importance of values, we can now look deeply into how to develop favorable business values for your business. But before we delve into that, we should look at some aspects of the business values a company should strive to imbibe.
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The Importance of Business Values
Corporate Values are meant to reflect what is important to the business. In most cases, they can be dominated by our personal guiding principles or life goals, guiding our behavior in all aspects of life, including our home life, our work like, and our social life. The importance of values in the work place lies in their purpose, which is, in short, to guide our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors
If you continuously compromise your values in your decision-making, the detriments to your own morale are undeniable. Recognizing, understanding, and staying loyal to your values is therefore one of the most important efforts any human being can take, and is equally as important when it comes to the workplace.
Here is a list of reasons outlining the specific importance of values in the workplace:
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1. Values help you to gain self-respect.
Sticking to your values and choosing not to compromise them for demands is a guaranteed way to regain self-respect. For example, if you value punctuality, communicate this to your coworkers. If you feel you are being underappreciated or neglected by your superiors, speak up.
If you do not respect yourself by staying true to what you believe is morally sound, and what falls in line with your values, there is no reason for anyone else to respect you either. Communicating your values not only improves your relationships and happiness with others but builds self-respect.
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2. Values help you to be clear about your wants.
Personal values can serve an important function in the life of employees and management. They can be especially useful in the workplace, informing your job searches or career decision making.
In order to identify your personal work values, you should aim to sort values from most important to least important. These could include recognition, achievement, independence, support, working conditions, justice, and so on. By having a clear sense of which values are important to your work efforts, you will be able to identify the companies or industries that have methods and goals most conducive to your personal values.
The crux of this is in understanding which specific values are of utmost importance to us, in order to avoid compromising them in any way in our work life. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what your values are, you will have a lot of difficulties figuring out what it is you are looking for to be satisfied and happy at work.
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3. Values help you in decision-making.
The modern job market can make anyone feel like they have all the choices in the world, but with that opportunity overload, there comes the feeling that we have ‘forgotten’ how to make a good decision. There will always be alternatives, always different opportunities and paths you can take. Having a clear sense of what your values are can help you to navigate those options, eventually drawing out the ideal choice.
For example, if you have reached your maximum position for growth and advancement in the company you work for, what steps do you take? Are you meant to stay and compromise your desire for more stimulation for job security, or do you value stimulation more than security, and start looking for a new job where you can further develop?
Realizing and identifying our values are of utmost importance because when we understand them, we are able not only to communicate them when changes need to be made, but we can also draw on them when we decide to change paths if they are not being met.
4. Values help you enjoy your life.
Values are the ethical goal statements that drive our behavior, and while some may change over time, our core values remain intact from the moment they are conceived. Your personal values are directly connected to your contemplating conscience. When something spurs you to behave against your values, your conscience raises an objection and persists until it cannot be ignored without sacrificing your happiness.
Hanging on to a job or a position because of its potential you can see in it, sacrificing your own contentedness and value satisfaction in your work is not a healthy choice to make. There will always be a positive correlation between our values and job satisfaction. Seeking out a common denominator between your value system and your employer will allow you to reach fulfillment in your experience at work.
5. Values keep you motivated, focused, and engaged.
When you’re working for a company with whom you disagree with over their product, process, or mission, your productivity suffers. Living in accordance with values keeps us motivated and happy in all areas of our lives, including the workplace. Working towards a goal we don’t strongly believe in can leave us lagging in our efforts, losing motivation much faster than if we were to truly want to strive for the goal in question.
Good Business Values
Good business values are the stated principles about the organisation’s vision, mission and prnciples. These values should guide your business to achieve its growth objectives.
Business values are developed from the following principles:
- the principles you stand for personally – for example, integrity, perseverance, determination, innovation, respect, passion and fair-mindedness
- the beliefs and attitudes you and your staff have in common in the workplace – how people should behave, the way managers should act, how work should be done, how staff should treat each other at work
- your organisation’s standards of behaviour – what is acceptable business practice. From a customer viewpoint, values are the kind of service they can expect to get when they deal with your business.
So, basically, your list of business values can be really long, however, business scholars have agreed on certain key business values as good and dominant among the values most businesses want to imbibe and communicate:
- Integrity and Ethics
- Fair Competition.
Simply put, the principles of integrity and ethics translate into doing the right thing, in an honest, fair, and responsible way.
Building your entire business on the foundation of honesty and integrity goes a long way into building a strong, trusting relationship with its employees, stakeholders, and customers.
A truthful conduct on everyone’s part can create a strong, credible reputation of the company in the market, which is beneficial for everyone’s interests.
Without dedicated employees, a company is nothing. Committed employees form the backbone of the entire corporation. They work together with the system in order to achieve growth and profitability.
A company has a responsibility towards its employees and, if one of its core principles is showing utmost respect to its employees, it’s likely management will have a low employee turnover.
Respecting all employees means respecting their individual human rights and privacy, eliminating all kinds and forms of discrimination, whether based on religion, belief, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or physical disability. Moreover, ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for all employees is an important part of giving respect to them.
Many organizations across the globe adopt an attitude whereby the entire company interacts together like a close knit family. Such an atmosphere helps boost the confidence of employees and makes them feel like an important, even indispensable, part of the organization.
This inspires feelings of commitment and a drive to do even better.
The thirst to constantly improve can be achieved if one is never satisfied. Organizations that have this principle as one of their core values try to provide a dynamic platform to their employees, where they can explore their creativity and skills and further enhance themselves.
While celebrating successes is an important thing, just sitting back and getting complacent over them is unacceptable for such companies. The reason why some companies habitually do well is because they know that employees are the most valuable resource.
Nothing compares to an employee who is dedicated and willing to go the extra mile. This requires a company to cultivate an environment that promotes respect and frowns upon complacency.
Management and employees needs to be taught and encouraged to bring their best into the competitive world. Striving for the best results should be a business value and employees who excel in performance should be rewarded. Company needs to establish reward for performance as a value to encourage employees to give their best into competition and strive to win at all times.
5. Fair Competition
This involves an orientation to always serve the common good. Employees and management needs to hold to the ideal to compete fairly, not cut corners to raise profit levels, not tarnish the image of competitors to launch a new product or promote own brand and to ensure that the good of society is the ultimate purpose of business.
How to Communicate Business Values in the Work Place
Communication is extremely important to get your corporate values identified and understood by those who interact with your business.
According to the Harvard Business Review, businesses communicate a lot of things. Many love to boast when their revenues soar, or publicize the strategic restructuring of their organizational response committees (whatever that means). But often missing from a firm’s communications is something absolutely fundamental to its operations: its values.
If a company doesn’t take the time and effort to communicate its values in a meaningful way, then it’s like the old tree-falling-in-the-forest cliché: It makes a big splash, but no one is around to appreciate its impact.
High-profile scandals and crises have made it clear that many businesses do not properly or openly communicate their values. That has direct and indirect effects on the economy, which is made all the worse by rising fears of a double-dip recession and angst over the state of global markets.
What else can businesses do to better communicate their values? A few key ideas to keep in mind:
Ask employees what is important to them. Seek their input on how well the company’s work, and in turn, its employees, reflect their value system. Remember that generalized concepts — even oft-used words found in mission statements like “integrity” and “commitment” — have different meanings to people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Establish core values across the company, not just within management. If management sets values, who would own them? You need buy-in from employees; they have to feel a certain ownership over value creation.
Develop a values communications plan. Employee communications has to be at the forefront of your value-setting agenda; too often, executives fail to proactively seek employee input and buy-in before values are put in place. This leads to antipathy and resentment among those employees who don’t feel a company’s values align with their personal and professional aspirations.
Live your values. Embrace the corporate values and be mindful of them in every decision you make — both in good and bad times. Never forget that actions speak louder than words.
Forbes recommends 15 ways to communicate your business values:
1. Hold Collective ‘Sense-Making’ Discussions
As a company grows, its corporate identity matures and changes. That means core values and the way they are practiced will change as well. A simple value communication can, therefore, backfire. To move toward authentic, ethical and innovative growth, companies can focus on a culture of collective sense-making so people can discuss their values and how they want to practice them.
2. Live Your Values Through Action
Business leaders communicate values through action. Is service a value? Then offer to help a customer you see in your lobby. Is teamwork a value? Then don’t spend any time venting about colleagues. Is empathy a value? Then truly listen to a struggling staff member. Leaders who live their values exhibit integrity. That integrity encourages both excellence and ethical behavior.
3. Integrate Values Into The Employee Lifecycle
Integrating values into each step of the job cycle, from hiring to advancement to exit, prompts a pause to ask: With which core value does this decision or action align? This practice connects daily behavior to a company’s impact, exposing whoever does not subscribe to the values. Open discussions could then show how values are embodied in diverse ways, fostering more inclusion versus groupthink.
4. Simplify Your Mission, Vision And Values Statements
A company’s mission, vision and values need to be captured in single sentences. Most organizations fail because they create complex, verbose statements most employees can’t understand, let alone live up to. Once these have been simplified and captured, leaders should discuss them regularly with their teams using real-world examples. This will help companies stay true to their core values—and if these were set correctly in the first place, it will help companies to excel ethically.
5. Use Values As Your Decision-Making Framework
The core values of any organization act as a framework for decisions, actions and the quality of interactions between stakeholders. The best way for leaders to communicate these values to their employees is to A) refer to them on a regular basis (e.g. when they make a decision) and B) consistently live up to them, as actions speak louder than words. Employees will take you as a point of reference and live up to them too.
6. Create A Culture Playbook Around Your Values
Communicating core values is best done by creating a culture playbook around each of your core values. Each page properly crafts what “right” looks like, feels like and sounds like inside the walls of your company. What does the value really mean, and when and how does “right” show up? When we define it, build it and maintain it, it is easy to see.
7. Hold Quarterly Town Hall Meetings
By holding Town Hall meetings quarterly, leaders can use these opportunities to reinforce their company’s core values and ethics to their employees. This makes sure that the organization and employees are totally aligned and operating in an ethical manner. Those who are not aligned will soon deselect themselves from the organization.
8. Address The ‘Why’ And The ‘WIIFM’
In my corporate experience and as a coach, communicating for lasting, sustained impact needs the following to be addressed in the messaging: 1) The Why: Why are these values so important, and why do they personify the company? 2) The WIIFM (what’s in it for me/them): Here, both “me” and “them” have to be explained and established. 3) Then, identify and establish an emotional link within the message to the team.
9. Recognize Employees Who Demonstrate Company Values
Leaders need to visibly and tangibly recognize when company values are demonstrated by employees. Public praise highlighting the actions driven by values can be effective. Addressing actions that don’t conform to the values is also needed. Leaders who live the values daily and talk about how the values impact their decisions help employees to see the values in action.
10. Include All Employees In Your Strategic Planning
My clients who include every employee in annual strategic planning and quarterly progress course corrections have the most engaged employees. Each understands not just the planned trajectory for the year, but also how it necessarily evolves in real-time. Each also sees clearly how their role furthers the company’s plan.
11. Frame All Announcements In The Context Of Your Values
Frame every announcement and every decision in the context of the company values. If managers and senior leaders actually use the values in their work and decisions, articulating how the values fit will be natural and effective reinforcement. Employees generally struggle with values when their managers’ decisions and actions don’t align.
12. Pay Attention To Nonverbal Communication
Often, it is the nonverbal communication that makes the most impact on employees and other stakeholders. While there may be a list of the company vision and values in brochures and other collateral material, it is the behavior of leaders that loudly communicates those core values. Simply put, lead by example, take a stand against injustice and take action when necessary.
13. Create A Values-Based Awards Program
Create awards based on these values. They can be established annually or quarterly. The award or medal to the member who demonstrated “Creativity,” “Teamwork” or “Excellence” can be configured with the values, as companies like Domino’s Pizza do worldwide.
14. Make The Connection Between Actions And Values Clear
Sharing examples of values in action and describing the explicit connection to the company’s values can be helpful for employees. For example, a company that values serving its community can spotlight individuals who are doing community service projects, and specifically state that this is an example of the company’s values in action.
15. Tell The Right Stories To Your Team
Stand-out business leaders see themselves as storytellers of their companies. Values-based stories that share their unique value proposition in the marketplace, and how they do what they do even more than what they do, are both easily understood and shared. When employees share the culture and vision of a company through a repeated story, it supports seamless communication of culture as the company grows.
Business values are a very important component of the business environment and can affect how strategies are developed and achieved. But not all companies really pay serious attention to get all the components of their business values right. Value setting is a tough business, often fraught with multiple challenges and divergent agendas. But once those values are set, right or wrong, management should communicate them and live them as well for all employees to understand the stance of the company not to compromise on those issues and to appreciate their importance to company life.