I’ll get straight to the point: company values become harmful when they are not enforced.
This happens more often than you would imagine, and usually because of good intentions. But the harm is always greater than the perk.
The wrong way to use values
Let’s say you claim a core value at your business is collaboration. You encourage people to share information and projects and review their performance based on that value.
Except for that one guy.
The sales guy.
He is a rockstar. He is selling more than you hoped for. Everything he touches becomes new business. You love him.
He is awful at collaboration: nobody ever knows where he is, what he’s working on, what new projects he is about to close.
But the sales! So good.
So you say “hey, he is doing his job. Why should I bother him with improving collaboration when he is doing so well anyway?”
What is the harm
You should bother him because the values have to outweigh the person.
Values should be universal, they should be reflected in everything that happens in your business. If you can pick and choose who has to live up to the value, then it’s not a real value.
And you know, deep down, what is happening in the background: other employees see that what is expected of them is not expected of everyone. Although you keep saying collaboration is important, they know it isn’t.
And, slowly but surely, they start to wonder what else you are saying that isn’t really important.
Slowly but surely, you lose credibility.
The right way to use values
Values should be both a promise and an aspiration.
Something you exhibit every day and something you always strive to live up to.
How to: You have to be able to describe each of your values.
Try completing the following sentence.
“I know that we are good at [VALUE] because …” and write three things that you can see in your business that prove the fact.
Have you tested your company values?
Contact me to discuss a review and update of how you use values in your business