Correctly identified values, implemented in daily operations, help companies. However, a set of values that are defined as that of the company, but fail to be relevant, may cause a number of problems. Similarly, with time the operations of the company change, adjusting to the current market situation, so the values of the company may no longer be relevant and should be reviewed. What are the challenges companies face?
Errors in identifying values
Look at this list of corporate values: Communication. Respect. Integrity. Excellence. At first, this set of values seems powerful, succinct and meaningful. It may even be similar to your own company values, but if so, it is worth reviewing. The above values are a part of the Annual Report of the company Enron from 2000, and, as the experience of this company has shown, this set of values has proven to be invalid because they have absolutely not been in line with the behaviour of the company’s employees and are generally self-evident.
When identifying values, you have to be very honest with yourself and your company. Because, for example, if a company that promotes global warming with its day-to-day operations by using large amounts of fossil fuel chooses concern for the environment as its value, the public will most likely not accept it. At the same time, if you choose self-evident values, such as respect, a question may arise: should such a self-evident matter really be put forward as a value of the company?
Defining ambiguous values
One company value that is put forward at times is “eagerness”. This is very understandable since every company wants its employees to work wholeheartedly, and employees also are mindful of these expectations. However, it is clear that employees cannot go to work with sparks in their eyes every single day, introverted people may not share their daily achievements and everyday joys at work with their colleagues, which in turn can contribute to others condemning you for not respecting such a simple value. When defining company values, it is very important to choose values that are applicable every day, and which are objectively measurable.
For example, the company Atlas replaced the value of “eagerness” with “interest”, which is much more realistic, can be observed daily by looking at employees – whether they are interested in the current events of the industry or whether they are interested in improving their own or their team’s performance. Are employees interested in dealing with customer problems? It is easier to measure, monitor and bring such value to life in your daily life.
Complications of implementing values in day-to-day life
Another challenge is the introduction of values, not only in theory but also in practice. Many companies in their advertising campaigns declare that they are inclusive, support minorities, but in reality, their company isn’t represented by a single minority, and candidates from the specific groups are not invited for interviews. This shows that the company values have been chosen mistakenly or have not been implemented in day-to-day life. Every company needs to make sure that the values of the business are a fundamental theme in terms of employees’ attitudes to work, customers, colleagues and people alike. Forming and maintaining a company’s culture is a constant effort, but it pays off in the long term.
For example, a company that has defined the importance of sustainability as its value, and demonstrates the daily application of this value with all its operations, employee attitudes and decisions taken, will be more popular in the eyes of consumers than a company that has defined communication and reach as its core values, but regularly does not respond to the phone calls of customers or partners.
Involving the entire company in representing values
All employees must be a part of the company’s culture. Sometimes more successful values can be brought to life by team leaders, rather than high management. Values need to be implemented in a natural way to ensure that all employees feel like part of the process. By involving employees in the process of value implementation, it can make those values an organic part of the company.
It is important that values are not “imposed” from high management, in which case employees may not be motivated to use them daily. In addition, employees may be able to work according to the values in front of their managers, but at other times they can be completely and automatically forgotten. If this is the case, it is more difficult for the management of the company to understand why the allegedly implemented company values do not work.
The need to review previously defined values
As time goes by, the company can change, so previously defined values can become irrelevant. All companies should be aware of this aspect: it is no secret that the business environment today is mercurial, so the principles of how companies work are changing rapidly. However, these changes should not be overlooked but should be used for your own benefit by reviewing the values of the company and adapting them to the company’s current objectives. It’s no secret – outdated values can slow down the company’s development too.
Why should you choose to define company values at all if they can present so many challenges? Identifying and implementing values in the company can contribute greatly to the satisfaction, loyalty, motivation and recruitment of employees. At the same time, an increasing share of society chooses to cooperate with companies that provide “added value”, not only in terms of company profits but jointly working towards a better world. Moreover, by monitoring the culture of the company, value-driven challenges are easily identified and solved.