Someone recently asked me ‘Why is it important to have defined values as a company?’ My answer? ‘It drives decision making’. This is something that many people don’t understand yet. Values shape a strong culture, and a unified workforce that defines who you are as a business. Without them, it’s like aiming in the dark and hoping for the best. You may get it right sometimes, but the majority of the time you will miss your target.
When employees join a company, they won’t refer to the corporate handbook or search online for how one should act. Instead, they will look at their peers for clues on how to behave. If you employ the wrong people, this will create a ripple effect. If you consciously employ people whose values match that of the company, this will create a greenhouse effect, cultivating the conditions that you need in order for your business to flourish.
Most successful companies have a set of values, but not all companies have defined values that have been formalised and are consciously used as a strategic tool for decision-making. Once you’ve established company values, this should lay the foundation for everything you do, from hiring to firing, cutting costs to increasing budgets.
Here are five examples of when the company values should be at the forefront of your mind:
- Recruiting talent: Everyone you hire will have their own set of values. However, their personal values should align with that of the company’s, or the relationship will be short-lived. If they don’t portray the same values, they are not the right people for your company.
- Letting go of the wrong people: When someone is just not cutting the mustard, ask yourself why. Are they portraying the company values? The answer is most probably ‘no’. Have they broken one or more of the values? The answer is probably ‘yes’. Therefore it might be time to wish them luck and say goodbye.
- Choosing a suitable supplier: Companies should choose suppliers that have similar values, or at least values that complement their own. If these values are polar opposites, working with them will not be smooth sailing. Keep looking for other suppliers.
- Deciding on promotions: The employees who best represent the company values through their daily behaviour and performance are those you should be promoting. If you want the corporate values to deliver the benefits of a unified company, then your leaders need to act as business ambassadors with a unified voice.
- Working with clients: If you are approached by a potential client whose business practices are unethical or dubious, but they have plenty of money to spend, you might consciously decide not to work with them if integrity is important to you.
Defined values help to create a strong company culture, and a strong company culture delivers a multitude of benefits, especially when trying to attract and retain great talent. Culture is among the top five factors people consider when applying for a job, according to Glassdoor. I’ve carried out hundreds of interviews at FDM Group for various positions in the past few years, and 80% or more have asked me about the culture. It’s is a factor that people consider and a popular reason why people choose to work for some companies over others. It is also a crucial element for building your brand and attracting customers.
Achieving ‘one for all and all for one’ behaviour is evidence of a robust community with a strong corporate culture. If your coworkers feel like they have a second family at work, then your values are aligned and are already making a difference.
Nabila Aydin, VP global marketing & North America HR operations, FDM Group