Learning how to create company values is important to both your business, your team and employees. In this article we’ll show you the method to use to get buy-in from the start and increase the chances of values being deployed every day.
Here’s a quick answer on how to create company values that last: Focus on Implementing what we call the 5R Method. This is a step by step process, that allows you to build and embed company values, together with your employees. The 5Rs stand for:
- Render: Brainstorm and create your mission and values – with your teams. Get buy in and ownership from the start
- Remind: Create an internal promotional campaign to communication and make these values a habit
- Reinforce – Celebrate and reward employees who demonstrate these values
- Recruit – Use your values to recruit the right people, whose values match up to yours
- Revisit – Returning to the start (render) to ensure your values consistently change to suit customer needs, your organisation’s and your employees’
Why The Need for Company Values?
Today, we have entered a phase where the employees of an organisation seek something much beyond mere financial benefits. They often look for the organisational values that largely mirror their own.
And by choosing businesses that match their own values, it can create increased happiness and engagement levels. Quite frankly, employees can feel more at home and at ease in a workplace that suits their own views and beliefs of the world around them.
We know that employee engagement has a huge positive impact on business’ financial performance, productivity and customer satisfaction, and so, learning how to create company values that resonate with your employees, is important because it creates a compounding effect of better business results.
Values also give a company’s employees a means to show everyone how to work together in order to be effective and achieve their objectives. They provide a compass for leaders to make the right decisions, too.
It’s safe to say that creating company values that are embedded in your organisation is an important tool in building a successful business.
How to Create Company Values Using the 5R Method
Following a clear path often helps create clarity in a subject. Creating company values is the same too. Here’s our 5 step process to make compelling company values with your team, so you can increase the chances of them being sustained, even in times of crisis.
STEP 1: RENDER – Create Your Company Values
Learning how to create company values starts here. It is the first and most important stage to creating compelling values for your company. With your employees, brainstorm, streamline and converge upon the core values that will define your organisation / team.
This process is a team building process too. So, get them together, make it fun, and allow them to express their opinions and ideas in a risk free environment.
Your role as a leader is to facilitate the event, not direct and dictate your thoughts.
Here’s how to approach your facilitating session:
Know Your Mission
Before you set about establishing your organisational values, you first need to have a good understanding of your mission.
If you don’t have a mission, then now is the chance to create one before you design your values.
- Why does your company exist?
- What gets you out of your bed everyday?
- What problems do you aim to solve?
- How do you want people to see your organisation?
- How can you serve your customers better than anyone else?
Great mission statements are clear and concise. They explain why the business is doing what it’s doing.
For instance, Tesla’s mission statement reads – “To accelerate the world’s transition to clean energy”.
With this mission statement, it is obvious that “innovation” and “being environmentally friendly” will be a part of Tesla’s core values.
TED’s mission statement is to “Spread Ideas.” They exist to share ideas and concepts across the world and are famous for their Ted Talks.
Paypal’s mission statement, “To build the web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.”
Pretty clear what they are trying to do, right?
To help create your mission statement, Fond.co has an excellent guide to help you get going.
If you already have a great mission statement, though, then move on to the next step.
Once you know your mission and have ensured that your employees have either taken part in creating it or they already know it, it is time to engage them in the process of creating the core values.
- Think of your mission as the main headline goal for what you are trying to achieve.
- The values show how people will work on a day-to-day basis, to ensure this mission is achieved.
To get started, encourage your teams or employees (depending on your preference) to brainstorm ideas of values that they believe would fit with the mission statement.
This session can last from 20 minutes to a few hours, depending on the engagement levels of the team and how detailed the discussions are.
Just go with it.
This session allows you to ultimately build important values that your employees will create and buy into.
Once the team have expended all of their brain matter, you may find similarities in values. When this is the case, group ideas together under a common theme.
For instance, you may have the following which are similar values:
- Continuously improve our people and processes
- Never be afraid to make mistakes
- Encourage risk taking
- Constantly learn and share ideas
- Encourage mistakes so we can learn
All of the above are ideas based around continually learning and encouraging risk taking. They could be grouped under the heading – “Learn and improve everyday”
By doing this, you make it easier to sort and process all your values at the next stage. In fact, by grouping, you may go from 100 ideas, down to 50-60, or even less.
3) Align the Values to Your Mission
At this stage, your goal is to facilitate the team to pick up each shortlisted value and examine it to see how closely it aligns with your mission statement.
For instance, if your mission is to drive free access of information to people across the world, this would be reinforced by choosing something like the following as core organisational values:
- Free flow of ideas
- Reliable information
- Expert storytellers
- Everyone collaborates
One of the simplest methods to choose your values is to pick a preset number (anywhere between 3-7). This number will represent the amount of core values your team will choose and live by.
Now, give each employee / team member that number of votes. So if you chose 5 company values to find, then give each employee 5 votes.
Let them analyse the list of values.
“If we practiced them every day, what 5 values do you wholeheartedly believe in, which would help us achieve our mission?”
Once everyone has voted, count them up and share the top 5, with the most votes.
Now sense check them with the team to ensure they absolutely fit with your mission statement.
When they do, you have your company values that have been created by your employees.
This is a big barrier overcome. Your team have created company values and have been part of the process from start to finish.
For further information, you can see the relationship between company values and employee competence in this research by Mitja Gorenak and Marko Ferjan (University of Maribor, Slovenia). In it, they identify that good company values have a statisitcally positive impact on a manager’s performenace.
STEP 2: REMIND – Begin your Internal Promotion Campaign
Once you have agreed the core values for your organisation, it is time to set them in motion. At this stage, learning how to create company values is about communicating and repeating the message you’ve defined in step 1.
That is, to embed them into the very heart of your company.
For this, you must never let your employees lose focus of these values. They must be constantly reminded of them until they become second nature to your employees. This can be done in several ways:
- Display your mission and values prominently at strategic positions, such as the main entrance, the door to the pantry, on LCD displays, throughout the workplace and even in the Loo!
- Include a slide or two about your company values in your presentations.
- Displayed them on the company intranet
- Give away office memorabilia such as stress balls, t-shirts or key rings with one or more of these values printed.
- Encourage your employees to keep sticky notes at their workstations with the values written on them.
- Refer to them at every 1-2-1 employee review you have
- Any internal team boards should display them, too
Now is your chance to visually promote the good work the teams have done and to keep them in plain sight.
Acronyms are Good Too
Make them visual. If you have a designer or design team inhouse, I would advise that they turn these values into a visual masterpiece. They can then be turned into posters, team boards, newsletters, displays, etc.
The fact is, we learn faster and retain more information if we are presented with words and images in our messages. Now’s your chance to do the same to embed company values that mean something to your employees.
One interesting way to make sure that your employees remember the values is by coming up with an acronym for them. This acronym should ideally connect back to the mission or the main theme of your organisation.
For instance, if your company provide healthcare solutions, you could perhaps come up with a set of values as
C – Compassion. We shall be kind and caring towards everyone we meet and greet
A – Accountability. Each of us will be personally responsible for our words and actions
R – Respect. Dignity and Respect shall be the cornerstones of all our relationships
E – Empathy. We shall strive to provide the greatest emotional support to those in need
Here’s an example of our information business’ acronym of values.
Further, you should also give a brief one line description of each value. It is recommended to personalise your values by linking them directly to you and your organisation. In order to do this, you could use words like “We”, “Us”, “Our” etc.
STEP 3: REINFORCE Your Company Values
Merely splashing your values all over the workplace will not help until you follow up with some positive reinforcement. In simple terms, you need to walk the talk, both in your personal capacity as a leader and also as an organisation.
For Instance, if punctuality is one of your core values, ensure that you reach your office right on time, every single day and that meetings are attended on time, too.
A few ways to reinforce your core values:
- Practice what you preach: Your everyday activities must reflect the values that you hold dear for your organisation. If you have “Free flow of ideas” as one of your core values, you should think of holding open door meetings or more brainstorming sessions to see how your team can work this value and consistently get more high value ideas as a standard way of working
Your organisational culture should develop organically out of your organisational values. This will help to reinforce them in the minds of your employees.
- Reflect your values in business deals: While you preach about certain values to your employees, you should not sacrifice them when it comes to making deals. Be firm about holding true to your values even if it means a probable loss of business.
This will show your steadfast dedication to your values and elicit respect from your employees.
For instance, if you hold “environment friendliness” very close to your heart, you should walk away from a deal that you know would cause damage to the environment. Always stick to your true values.
- Reward your value-able Employees: Perhaps nothing works as a better motivation for employees than recognition and reward. Make it a practice to regularly reward employees who have shown exemplary dedication to your organisational values. Ideally, these rewards should be personalised to match the preferences of your employees.
You could create a practice of declaring the “Most Value-able Employee” of the month and celebrating him/her at company meetings.
Be creative here, and think of as many ways to reward people when they demonstrate that they have worked to the company’s values.
It doesn’t all have to be about monetary rewards. Think creatively:
- Perhaps a day off in lieu
- Breakfast on the business
- Half day friday
- Vouchers for a course of their choice
- Vouchers to spend on Amazon or in shops
- A humorous reward
The list is endless.
Reinforcement of the values will lead to a greater convergence between the employees and the organisation and allow you to embed company values so people are inherently following them in their work.
The 2015 Industry Ranking report by Tinypulse shows a clear correlation between the convergence of the employee’s and organisation’s values and the level of employee engagement, so think of creative ways to reinforce positive behaviour.
STEP 4: RECRUIT Talent That Match Your Values
Once you have established a set of values for your organisation, you need to make sure that your prospective employees also fit into this set of values.
When you are scouting for new talent, do not limit your search criteria to their professional competence. Instead, focus on their values and personality traits. Is that they are conveying, in line with our company or team’s values?
Values have a great impact on the thoughts, actions and decision-making capabilities of an individual. They affect the employees performance in the organisation, too. While a sync of the personal and organisational values leads to greater employee engagement, a divergence of values lead to increasing difference of opinions, dissatisfaction with the workplace and higher voluntary turnovers. This can be costly for an organisation.
This is why value based recruitment has gained greater importance in recent days.
Instead of the traditional interview based recruitment, there is a growing focus on activity based recruitments that bring out the inherent values in a prospective employee. Harver provides a good introduction on how to get started with values based recruitment.
STEP 5: REVISIT and Repeat if Things Change
This the final R in how to create company values and embed them. This involves reviewing and revisiting this process to create new values as and when needed.
The values you and your employees have identified, are not cemented in time. As your organisation evolves, there may be significant changes in your operational strategy, organisational structure and even the mission itself.
Customers may change. You may move into new markets and opportunities.
All of these triggers may mean that today’s values could be superseded by new and more appropriate ones tomorrow.
It’s necessary to revisit your values over the lifetime of your organisation or team and revise them to reflect the current status and needs.
An organisation is not much different from a living organism.
It has a decision making head, several functional parts, a culture and even a value system. Hence it is to be expected that it will grow and develop over time.
And just as our value system changes through our experiences, the same holds true for the organisation as well.
It starts and ends with getting your team to take part in this entire process and learning how to create company values that support this process, so they can work with them every day.