Every business is unique, and the underlying values that guide their actions are no exception. Company values act as a compass for how a business behaves as a collective, as well as how individual members conduct themselves amongst customers and each other.
While there may be things you feel are common knowledge, the reality is that each individual comes with their own core values and past experiences (including business values adhered to in previous employment), which may differ greatly to what you are trying to achieve. Instilling your company's values is about involving your team in all stages, from development to acknowledgement.
Develop a distinct set of values
While you may have a general understanding of your own values in business, when trying to instil them in others it is vital that these values are specific and concrete. It can be a good idea to involve your team in the development of your company's values. Not only does this act as a way of encouraging involvement and commitment, it also allows for existing underlying values to be discovered rather than manufactured. In other words, rather than imposing your own values on others, provide an opportunity for the team to discover and develop their own collective core values.
Makes these values clear to all team members
The key to instilling business values is meaningful and consistent repetition. Use them in every meeting or gathering, reminding your team of what drives decision making. Make values part of your business's everyday functions and be sure to highlight company values at all stages of an employee's business timeline, from induction to promotion. In order for values to be clear and memorable, it is vital that they are relevant and meaningful to your team. This means recording them in your team's unique 'voice'. Rather than using generic business jargon, record your company's specific set of values in a language that suits your business.
Make values part of your company's public persona
Another way of encouraging internal alignment to company values is to make them visible to your customers. This further emphasises what is expected of your team. Your business values can be displayed on your website, form part of your mission statement and generally influence communication with customers and the public.
Set a good example
Nothing encourages employees to ignore values more than a boss who ignores them. When you are able to set an example of how to adhere to company values, it acts as yet another way of repeating them to your team to demonstrate what is expected of them. It is also valuable for owners and managers to incorporate company values into mentoring and training opportunities, using values as a guide for where you want to go.
Reward good behaviour
Although certain behaviours are expected of our employees, this does not mean they should go unnoticed. It is important that staff members are rewarded for working in line with business values. You can again involve the team in this process. For example, your business may like to focus on one value each month and encourage the team to nominate those who have best demonstrated it.
When it comes to company values, it is less about memorising a list and more about understanding the principles that underlie them. Rather than fixating on the memorisation of the specific words or phrases, encourage your staff to develop a deeper understanding of what they truly mean.
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Nick Petrovic is a registered psychologist and head of clinic at the Mind Profile Psychology Clinic and has more than 10 years' experience in the allied health and business. Nick has contributed to regular columns in more than a dozen business magazines and newspapers, advising on issues such as mental health, work related stress, strategic planning, business analysis and human resources.