Why are values important?

Do what you Say and Say what you Do!

Many companies complete Strategic Planning sessions, where company Vision, Mission and Values are determined. However, do you think all companies operate in a way that reflects those values? Do they indeed “Say what they do and do what they say?”

I have seen my share of companies, where Vision, Mission and Values are no more than just a nice plaque on a wall, and they have no real relevance in the day-to-day operations of the company. This is a risk for company culture, where senior management loses credibility with their team.

Employees can lose motivation when they are told that the company will be adopting certain values, which creates an expectation on their end, and then operates in opposition to those values. Next time senior management comes around with another big idea, the attitude of the employees can be one of indifference. There is no telling, how crucial the next big idea and its implementation will be for the company’s future. Since this is not a risk that should be taken lightly, organizations have to be genuine in the assessment and practice of their values.

The simple meme to practise is “Say what you will do and do what you say.” Don’t determine your company values because they sound good, lofty or attractive. Look within your organization and see where there are common threads. Stating a value that’s already being practiced is a lot easier than creating a new one. Use that momentum in your favor. Ideally, the values can be a mix of where the company is and where it wants to be.

The challenge comes when practising your values becomes inconvenient and even costly – monetary or otherwise. If you decide “Integrity” is one of the values you want your company to be guided by, then look for areas of operation that are in conflict with this value and change it. You might have to suffer a bit of loss initially, but it will earn you priceless credibility and that always pays off in the long run.

A company that adheres to its values has a team that’s more likely to trust its management, take ownership of the company, be more motivated and perform better as a result. I think these are benefits worth the effort.