I don’t think most businesses need them.
I don’t think most businesses know why any business needs them.
Most businesses are struggling with making a profit, or meeting a deadline or wondering where their next customer is coming from.
Most businesses don’t have time for values.
The staff gets stuff done and, if they’re lucky, they get to go home kind of on time.
These businesses don’t need business values.
They just need to make it through the next financial year.
And, hopefully, the one after that.
Values only have value if you have a purpose beyond making a profit.
If you have a defined goal, then you can identify the values you need to get there.
Values are those things you refuse to compromise on.
You want to climb Mount Everest.
You need to be fit. You need to be determined. You need to be cautious.
These are the things you have to value, because it’s a matter of life or death.
I want to play better golf.
But there are things I value above practice. My family. Making the mortgage. Finding new business.
Obviously I don’t truly value the things that will make my golf better.
I’m prepared to compromise on practice because there are more important things to do at home.
Values only have value if you are determined to reach a goal or serve a purpose.
If it’s something you’re prepared to compromise on, it’s not a value, it’s just a trait you admire.
Here’s a hint.
Don’t start with the values.
Don’t say you, as a business, value respect if your managers are treating some employees different to others. Or if the silos won’t co-operate because some have degrees and others don’t.
Don’t say you value innovation if you can’t point to your innovation engine or you haven’t done anything fundamentally new in the last six months.
By all means say you admire those things.
But don’t fool yourself into thinking you value them.
Start with the reason the business exists.
And figure out what you can’t compromise on if you’re going to succeed.
Values drive behaviour.
Values shape attitude.
It’s why great businesses have stated business values.
Not just personal values.
And why the demand to be judged on those values.
It’s also why a lot of well-performed businesses just have a good business model, highly competent managers and a bunch of feel good words most of the board agreed to in the ten minute “robust and fruitful discussion” they had before Barry had to get in his taxi for an important meeting at Madame Wongs.
Only say you value something if you’re prepared to make the entire company accountable to that thing.
Because that thing will help your business get where it need to go.
Business values are the common beliefs that bind purpose-filled teams together.
If your business doesn’t have an end goal or a purpose beyond making a profit, your business doesn’t need values.
Just remember, if you’re just in it for the money, chances are, your employees will be too.