In personal relationships we tend to choose others who share our values—regardless of whether they are friends or romantic interests. This is because values help define who we are and what we stand for. When this is shared between yourself and another, it provides the foundation to maintain a solid relationship both can depend on.
In politics, Democrats and Republicans might make a lot more progress if they were to identify and build upon what values they share in common. Our representatives in congress should seek out and build upon what their constituents share in common with the constituents of other representatives in order to make progress. The process of differentiating oneself from one’s opponent may work well in campaigning, but it is detrimental to effective governing.
In any organization, values define what it stands for, how it makes decisions, conducts business and the type of people it seeks to attract—customers, partners and employees.
All too often I see an organization’s corporate values clearly displayed on a website, but not truly embraced in the way its people function. This is not only bad for the bottom line, it’s bad for attracting the right talent.
Core values should support the company’s vision and shape the culture. That’s because values are the very essence of a company’s identity, its principles and beliefs. These values should not be defined in haste nor should they be so generic or fluffy that they don’t really mean anything.
The best values are those that are unique and demonstrated so often that they are embodied rather than simply memorized.
Core values can be an important differentiator and build a more solid brand. They can:
- Enable better decision-making with regard to partnerships, employee engagement, quality standards, customer satisfaction, etc. The more values are integrated into the decision-making process, the easier it is to make hard choices.
- Educate partners and customers so they are able to invest in an organization that is aligned with their own values. Social media is building brand awareness like never before and, with so many options, today’s consumers will choose products and services from those companies who they can identify with most closely.
- Help recruit the right employees because they can see that these corporate values are congruent with who they are as individuals. This alignment is becoming increasingly important as Millennials are seeking much more than a paycheck in their careers.
Placing an emphasis on core values will improve every aspect of business, but only if these values are meaningful, fully demonstrated and embraced by every employee. Make an effort to ensure your organization’s values are the right ones and that they are more than mere words on a website.