What are values?
Many find the concept of 'values' – in the organisational space - quite vague. However, company values are important to develop for employees as well as the organisation as a whole. In this article, we will look at why company values are formulated and how personal values integrate with company values.
The reason behind company values
Company or organisational values, much like individual values, are guidelines of behaviour. The purpose behind them is to define the identity of the company. The owners of the company or the founding members are usually responsible for defining what the company stands for, as well as what the role of the company is in the world. These types of values inform what managers tell their employees what they should be doing and how they should be behaving, as it is closely linked to the reputation of the company.
Values present a way to legitimise your company
By publishing these on your website, in your values documentation, or any of your corporate documentation, you are defining:
- Who the company is
- What identifies the company
- How the company operates
Values also serve as a way to attract customers. People want to work with a company, buy from a company, or contract with a company who values similar things to what they value themselves. In addition, values guide how people inside the company act, as well as how people from outside view the company. In some environments, it is unfortunate that some employee behaviours do not reflect what the company advocates. People merely pay lip service to these values and do not live these values. The values are just seen as something to enhance the image or reputation of the company.
Values are integral to the culture of an organisation
Literature has shown us that where a company has a good values culture and where there is good alignment between the worth that employees put on company values, employee engagement is that much higher. This means that it is critical to have employees in the organisation who have the same values that are at the core of your company. If these values are aligned, the company has more chance of success. The best way, that literature tells us, to enhance this type of value alignment, is through a sequential learning process. During this phase, employees are encouraged to:
- Know the values
- Identify with them
- Understand the reasoning behind these values
In order for values to ‘stick’, actual learning regarding these values needs to take place among employees so that it can be realised that these employees have taken the tenets of these values on board. Higher engagement from employees leads to lower staff turnover, higher levels of job satisfaction, and increased productivity. At the end of the day, this increases your business' bottom line. Values play a pivotal role in culture and engagement of people with that culture. The important thing is that whenever coming up with values, you need to be able to tie these into business outcomes and be very clear about why these values speak to what you want to achieve in your business strategy. Finally, you need to be able to couple behaviour to that value. JvR Psychometrics has developed the Corporate Values Questionnaire (CoVaQ) Values Culture Survey that can be used as a tool to determine the current value culture of companies. Through a consultative process, the company values can then be determined and aligned through a process of sequential learning. Specific behaviours, that are measurable, should then be allocated to the corporate values and can be incorporated into performance appraisals or development meetings.
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