How to Design Company Values that Last

The number one challenge we hear from clients most often, isn’t about financial modelling, growth strategies or cash flow; it’s about leading people well. Each individual employee brings their own strengths and complexities to the table. The natural intricacies of human beings, makes leadership challenging and requires purposeful care to do it well. Overlooking its importance can be a costly mistake.

What are the pain points that consistently bubble to the surface when it comes to effective people management? It all ties back to three things:

  1. The challenges of managing people and getting them to take ownership and accountability in their role.
  2. The difficulty in maintaining an employee base that consistently stays self-motivated to take charge and work independently.
  3. The frustrations that come from employees who are not proactive, who don’t take pride in their work and who don’t self-evaluate how they can improve, or do things better.

Those are difficult hurdles to overcome and can’t be taken on lightly. As the leader of your business, you have a lot on the line, and you’ve put a lot of sweat into getting to where you are right now. The reality is, your employees don’t innately have that same level of personal attachment or deep-rooted investment in the business. They just don’t, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find the right people, with the right traits and the right talent. The right people will align with your goals and will find a rewarding career within your company.

So, how exactly do you make it happen? Well, it comes down to understanding your non-negotiable company values. The process might seem daunting, but it’s not as complex as you might think, and getting it right will save you in the end.

Start by identifying all the values you deem important for your workplace and for this specific role. If you are in finance, trust and honesty would be obvious, fundamental values. If you’re running a design business, then curiosity and creativity will likely rise to the top.

The best way to tap into what’s important in your company is to think about what’s important to you individually. Write down those descriptors and then step away to look at the collective list. What you’ll soon find is that there will be a common thread between the various adjectives you have outlined. Seeing that collective list will help you can begin to merge and condense the descriptors down. Typically, what started out as a massive, laundry-list of values, gets boiled down to a few non-negotiable values that you hold as priorities. Use that list, evaluate it, really dig it apart, and then ask yourself which are the few that you are unwilling to waiver on.

If you can define your company values and the specific values that are non-negotiable, you will have an easier time identifying the right people for your business. But don’t just apply these values in your onboarding process. Put in the work to embed your values into your company culture. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Communicate the values to everyone in the organization – not just the words, but what they mean to you and why they have helped you as a professional.
  • Integrate the values into the employee review process, but don’t stop there. Use your company values in everyday situations to encourage successful outcomes.
  • Create signage around your office building that keep your values top of mind among employees.
  • Reward people who are exhibiting those values with praise and recognition. Explain what they did and how their efforts improve the business and their career.
  • When an employee is not exhibiting those values, tell them. Give them clear examples of what is missing and advice on how they could tweak what they are doing. For example, showing them that when you follow up with clients within a certain timeframe, the client feels important and is more likely to work with you.

When employees understand the values of the company, they also understand the expectations and how success will be measured.

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