Only a few years ago, many companies were questioning the interest of putting core values in place within their organization. These were deemed useless or even worse: “it’s useless, it’s a managerial trick that will not be applied anywhere,” could you hear in the corridors, sometimes even Within the Human Resources departments!
Water has been flowing under the bridge and today very few companies have not set up core values. But what are these values and, above all, how are they chosen?
Give people a common language
Defining values is not the creation of something new. Rather, it is discovering and highlighting those guiding principles or fundamental beliefs that already exist within an organization. Values are in fact statements that sum up who the company is and what it stands for — which are about to be rolled out across the organization.
Values are most of the time the result of several months of thinking by an international and transversal team. They are designed to define the company’s culture and support its employees as it grows. Most importantly, they aim to give people a common language with which to communicate about how we do business — and which they can use to judge their behavior and any decisions against.
If the values describe the guiding principles, then competencies, particularly the management competencies, describe behaviors that demonstrate adherence to the values.
“It is not easy to be a cohesive Group when thousands of employees are spread all around the world. Values provide with a common language and guide for doing our work, for conducting business, for making decisions, for ensuring that we are moving in the same direction and behaving in a consistent way, even when we are working in different locations, markets, functions and cultures”, explains Karen Rylander-Davis, President of Madyl Consulting and Organizational Development Consultant. “They are intended to give us another building block to engage employees, to describe expectations, and to ensure competitiveness.”
Ultimately, the company wants its people to always be asking themselves: “how does what I am doing fit with our values?” Whether it is a decision taken in a meeting, or when dealing with a customer or a supplier, values have to be in front of mind.
Because, at the end of the day, what makes the values alive is the behavior of the employees and not the communication made around them.