When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 it was close to bankruptcy. He told the employees that Apple would have to return to its core values. “What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done,” Jobs said. “Our core value is that at Apple we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”
Why are values so important
Even Steve Jobs, the successful business guru, emphasized it extensively. How is it that some companies are able to have such consistently outstanding employees across different situation and event continents?
Values are a real and rich source of individual and organizational pride. Having clear values benefits the company by offering a guide to behavior. And as the company grows some unspoken assumptions and founding beliefs need to be made more formal and explicit.
Some people recommend it's a good time to develop company values when the company has grown up to between 50-100 people. I disagree. A good rule of thumb is to develop them from the very beginning.
Creating the Right Culture
Values aren’t just conjured up from anywhere. They emanate from the mission and vision statements of the company. They are positive guidelines that motivate employees as they travers from the mission to realization of the company’s vision. Values are a powerful force in a business. Good, honed values can truly help make decisions. When they are well developed and implemented they even become a competitive edge and a unique differentiator from competitors.
Preparing to Create Company Values
So, before you begin creating these values here are a few steps to prepare:
1.Select who should be involved: No matter the size of your company, invite the key players to participate that have been involved with your company for at least a full year if not more.
2.Pick an excellent moderator: You should invite an external moderator to guide the discussion.
3.Schedule meeting: Schedule the meeting several days in advance so everyone has time to prepare. Openly toss out ideas of what was important to each.
Guidelines to Create Company Values
Here are some guidelines in developing core values:
- Keep the list of values ideally to three
- Articulate key words and describe what they mean
- Make these values specific
- Seek consensus from senior leadership
- Modeling behavior based on values is crucial: if the CEO and executive team don’t lead, the values will not stick.
Developing Company Values
Here are some steps on how to develop your company’s core values:
- Decide company’s level of commitment to running a values-based company: you must be willing to hire/fire people based on whether they fit your core values, even if an employee adds a lot of value in the short-term.
- Figure out your key members personal values: your company is composed of individuals; those founding individuals make up what your values are. Those key members should be partners, managers, and/or influencers.
- Combine the key members values: have a small select committee of 1 to 2 people work on this.
- Test values with stakeholders: this should be primarily focused on employees and ex-employees.
- Share results: ask for feedback from the entire company.
- Incorporate feedback: have 1 to 2 people integrate feedback.
- Roll out values: officially communicate to the entire company with a positive campaign of implementation.
Implementing Company Values
Finally, the most important piece, is how to implement them day-to-day:
- Recruit people with compatible values: attract like-minded people by being upfront about your values from the start.
- Communicate values day to day: actively talk about them in meetings, training events, one-to-ones etc. Have a 'Value of the Month' to focus on, or as an agenda item at meetings.
- Use values to manage performance: align your performance management processes with the values. Have performance standards and measures that clearly define what 'good' is.
- Train people to develop values: provide development opportunities for your company values in the same way as you enable people to develop their skills and knowledge. Set individual personal development objectives that relate to values.
If you want your company to be different from others and to truly become great, define your values and implement them positively each day.