What Do Your Values Say About You?

April 25th, 2016

Values led cultures can deliver amazing things!

We all have values whether intrinsic or stated that drive our choices and lead us to associate favourably or otherwise with people, organisations, colleagues, businesses and brands depending on what we feel they stand for and what that means to us.

Your values represent what is most important to you in how you live your life, work, behave in general and will drive your key decisions in life and work.

As a business it is becoming more and more important to be clear about your values and to ensure that you embed, lead and live by these and are willing to be held accountable to them. They impact on and drive the culture of your business and therefore who is attracted to working with you and how long you retain these talented people and partnerships.

I have worked with businesses who have no clear stated values, but who when working with them have an obviously values driven culture. These are often smaller businesses where the values of the leaders are clear from their behaviour and decisions and guide the key decisions made by the business and their team.

Articulating and committing to these values, ensuring that they are understood by everyone make it much easier as these businesses grow to continue to keep the culture that has successfully helped them to get to where they are, and engage more talented people.

I have also worked with businesses who have a set of values on their website and possibly in the building but when I speak to the people in the business, they don’t know what these are or if they do, what they mean, or how they affect them and in the worst case scenarios find them laughable given the behaviour or decision making that is normal or accepted in the organisation.

Having been privileged to work with a number of businesses in supporting and facilitating the development of a values based culture if you are setting out or developing on this journey, be prepared for this to take time and effort, the establishment of values is rarely achieved in one stage, and bedding these in and bringing them to life takes even longer. The impact however can be huge.

If you are starting to establish your values, you need to take time as individuals and as a team to really establish:-

  • What is most important to you and what do you really believe in?
  • What would you not sacrifice to grow your business at any cost?
  • What do you stand for?
  • How will you always work and how would you never work?

After much debate and discussion on what is essential and core and what might “be nice to have” you may come up with a set of words that you feel really describe your values, this is stage 1.

These words will mean something different to potentially everyone who reads them and will be difficult on their own to use to drive decisions and behaviours.

These need to be developed into value statements and become verbs, idaelly involving the wider team, so that people understand how these are brought to life and lived or not as the case may be. These then need to be communicated, developed, refined and bought into by everyone, lived daily and brought to life.

This extra dimension makes it possible for people to make decisions and know where they can compromise and where they can’t and to hold themselves and others accountable for the values and in the ideal scenario people will hold other team members accountable as they want to make sure they represent these values at all levels.

 If you have already have values or have started to develop your values try asking yourself the following questions:-

  • What are your own values and how do these align with the values of your business?
  • How clearly defined are these and who knows them?
  • How are these embedded into the business?
  • How does this impact on decision making?
  • Which decisions and behaviours do these drive?
  • Do you lead by your values and reinforce why these are important?

Values drive decision making and behaviours throughout the business when truly lived and embedded into the culture. They define who you are, how you work, what you believe and what you stand for.

It is often when the toughest choices need to be made that values come into their own in guiding these decisions and when the team look to their leaders to see that they do live these values.

They equally come into their own when they are used by the team to guide decision making, behaviours and to hold each other accountable.

Kirsty Bathgate is the founder of Gearing for Growth working with growing businesses and leaders to support them to perform at their best, with a clear vision, values led culture, less stress, better returns and more time for the important things in life.

If you would like to speak to Kirsty about building your values led culture, becoming more effective and confident with less stress and a better work balance call Kirsty on 07425 629816 or email kirsty@gearingforgrowth.com

 Image https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458/