Can writing down your values help eliminate chaos?
Your immediate answer maybe no, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Values that are clearly articulated and properly used in a business will remove many subtle hurdles. These subtle hurdles compound to create a level of chaos that is hard to remove without going down to the very base of a company’s foundation.
I am not the only one to think so. Harvard Business Review has almost 5,000 (4,951 on the day I checked) articles and case studies that focus on Values and Strategy. Some of the case studies are very intriguing. How does a food and beverage company grow rapidly during an economic downturn? I’ll give you a hint, it involves values.
Company values are part of the foundation needed to have a successful business.
Values should be defined and communicated by founders and senior leaders. Core Values should guide every decision in the organization. If the business moves in a direction that conflicts with the core or stretch values then it is time to re-evaluate either the strategy or the stated values. It is not wrong to change your values or change your strategy. But your values and strategy have to be in alignment for your business to succeed in the long term.
Defining values for your company doesn’t have to be difficult, although a few factors can cause the task to be burdensome. These factors include the age and maturity of the business, number of employees, size and diversity of the leadership team, and variety of the operations. A small, local business that is run by the founder can often work through the process in less than a day.
Different Types of Values
There are three types of values you need to think about for your business. You do not have to define each kind, but it is important to distinguish between them to understand the difference.
Understood Values: Values that are baseline to most businesses and understood to be in the market. Things like Honesty and Respect usually fall into this category. If a business openly advertised as not being honest, would you do business with them? It is best to define these and understand them but not to spend too much time dedicated to them. The open market and your company culture should actively weed out anything that is not congruent with understood values.
Stretch Values: Values that you wish to hold in your company but you do not currently have are called stretch values. These values can be aspirational and are good to hold in the minds of your leadership team and employees. Your current decisions and strategy may not reflect stretch values due to your business model, the economy, or other hindrance. Working these values takes time and effort and usually a culture change within your organization. Stretch values should be part of your vision casting and future dreams of your company.
Core Values: Core Values are deeply ingrained and not compromised in your business. These are the values you should spend the most time and energy on. These are above and beyond the Understood Values and are specific to your business. Core Values, when used and communicated properly, give your employees a sense of security and belonging. Core Values are the building blocks of your culture.
Defining and following your company values will decrease the chaos and increase your success and satisfaction. You shouldn’t let your strategy, culture, and success be left up to chance. Spending time on your values is the first step to reaping the rewards of a successful business foundation.
Not sure where to start on defining your values?
You can easily define values for your business. Use the form below to get my FREE list of over 475 values to begin choosing which ones are right for your company.