14 Reasons Why Your Company Values Aren’t Working
In a previous blog we discussed Why Your Lack of Clear Company Values Is Losing You The Best Employees. Perhaps since then you’ve started to put together a set of Company Values or have some that aren’t working as well as you’d hoped. There are a variety of reasons why this might happen. Going back to the drawing board will only improve the situation if you drill down into ‘why’. Find out where the flaws lie and recreate your company values into something that works for your business.
1. They are not memorable
The company values are your core principles. They should resonate with the people who work for you or wish to work for you. Without being unique to your company, they are easily forgettable, rendering them utterly pointless.
2. No one in your company can repeat them consistently
It’s all very well if your board members can, between them, just about remember the core values. But they need to be so identifiable with people within the company that they can reel them off with ease - or as close to perfect as possible.
3. They are too long/there are too many of them
See points 1 and 2 - if they’re too long or there are too many of them, they won’t be memorable and, in turn, they won’t be repeatable by employees. Keep them clear, concise, unique and memorable.
4. They are not actionable
Values are not separate from the work. They steer it. Your values should encourage the behaviours that achieve the results you want to see. You’re aiming for specific operating principles. Not over-engineered wordsmithery.
5. Your team cannot describe how your values guide their actions
The company values should be the overarching guide to how your employees act and how the company does business with other people. The creation of the values should be a team effort and should be a mixture of your company personality, the way you already do business and the way you want employees to do business. The only way this will work is if they are created as an engaged and representative group. Employees who are deemed to be at the bottom of the food chain are often the key to making this a successful exercise.
6. They are platitudes and not unique to your company beliefs
When shoe retailer Zappos came up with their company values they were able to Google each of them and the first results on the Search Engine Results Page was either their website or references to the company. That’s how unique they were. If you opt for run-of-the-mill, bog standard ‘values’ that could apply to almost any business, scout group or book club they are doomed to fail. “Do unto others as you would be done by” or “We work with integrity” are prime examples but are far too vague and not at all unique.
7. The founders and leadership team are not passionate about them
Are top level management and leaders not convinced by the company values? Then it is unlikely that the importance of the values will trickle down throughout the team, since staff will often model themselves on their leaders.
8. They are not a part of your daily culture
Company values are the fabric of your company. By nature they should be a part of your daily culture. They should be typical of the way your company works. If they aren’t reflected on a daily basis, they aren’t right for your company or your staff. When you’ve perfected them, communicate the values often; openly apply them to situations. Never underestimate the power of repetition!
9. They are not a tool that is used to attract the best talent
Our previous article about company values covers this topic quite comprehensively. There is a direct link between company values and attracting the right employees for your company.
10. They are not used to set employee goals or measure their performance
Are your company values referred to resolve conflicts or provide consequences for violations? Are they used as guidance for performance-related bonuses? If the answer is no to these questions, there is a failure to apply the values to the everyday running of the company and to actively encourage their abidance.
11. They are not part of your sales or marketing goals
Similarly, company values are the methods that you employ to achieve your sales and marketing goals. Accountability in alignment with company values is an excellent benchmark. Judgment can be clouded in a purely success-oriented culture. Small infractions can become the norm and soon you find that your company value about ‘integrity’ doesn’t mean much anymore.
12. They are not connected to your mission and/or vision
It doesn’t make sense that to have your so-called guiding principles detached from the path to your company mission/vision. Consider measuring your ROV (return on values) as well as your ROI. Proving how your values contribute to the overall earnings or health of the company can reinforce their significance. That could be something as simple as an increase in customer retention due to visible and measurable ‘integrity’.
13. Your values are not visibly integrated into the way you do business
If your company values are - rightly - visible on your website or in company literature or employee handbooks, it is prudent to live by them; lest you become the company in the headlines whose actions directly contradict its core values.
14. Your customers’ experiences do not align with your values
We all know how vital it is to listen to customers - especially their complaints. When what you’re hearing doesn’t ring true and bears no resemblance to your company values, it’s definitely time to have an overhaul
Your company values should be clear, concise, memorable, actionable, and measurable. They reflect who you are to your customers and suppliers. They should be the mantras by which you conduct your daily business.