The Value of Values
In a recent conversation with the CEO of a prospective client, I asked whether they had a statement of corporate values. He proudly answered in the affirmative. So far, so good. I asked what they were. Not only was he not sure what they were, he was equally unsure about where they were. We can do better.
If your organization does not yet have a list of corporate values, creating one can be a worthwhile exercise. Before you begin, however, it’s important to plan how you’ll put these to use for the betterment of all stakeholders. Here are a few examples.
While working with a client to help them fill a key executive position, we were discussing key questions to ask applicants. While job related responsibilities and experience were on the list, there was nothing to indicate whether and to what extent the prospect’s own values align with those of the organization. We also decided to ask finalists about the corporate values at their most recent workplace (we didn’t expect much of a response here, but we asked anyway). It opened the door to a robust discussion of why values matter and what they mean for my client’s company.
Stated values also have a rightful place in performance evaluations. Work related behaviors are often a major reason employees are fired. Yet, they rarely appear on performance review forms. They should.
Organizations that do have values statements often place them prominently on their website and with good reason. But without a comprehensive rationale for the meaning behind them, they can pass for little more than a promotional slogan.
Here are a few questions that are best addressed by a well-crafted, rational statement of values.
- Based on our values, what are our expectations of our stakeholders (our employees, investors, customers, suppliers, and the broader community)? And how do these values shape our commitment to them?
- Are our values referred to as we deliberate key strategic issues, opportunities, problems, and obstacles. Are they front of mind, and do they shape our decision-making process?
- How are they communicated and demonstrated on a day in, day out basis? Are they an essential factor in our evaluation of our working relationships with our employees, our customers and our suppliers?
For more information, including a guide to developing your organizational values, contact me at email@example.com.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.