Setting Off in the Right Direction

Setting Off in the Right Direction

Wondering Why Values Matter

Your company faces all sorts of options, alternatives and decisions every day that you’re in business. If you take the time to define your company’s values, these principles and beliefs can guide your managers, employees, or just you (if you’re in business for yourself) as you face complicated issues that don’t have easy answers. When the unexpected happens, you can react quickly and decisively, based on a clear sense of what’s important.

Avoiding being lost and unprepared

Our list of examples could include episodes involving companies of every size in all industries. Faced with unexpected events, unprepared companies often react as though they’re in total disarray. When a company lacks a set of stated values that everybody subscribes to, the interpretation of important issues is left up to anyone and everyone in the company. Then the company is likely to find itself speaking with many voices and going in several directions, resulting in confused employees, unhappy customers, an angry public and maybe, disappointed investors.

Identifying Your Organization’s Values

Values statements often address several audiences. The Johnson & Johnson Credo (refer to the preceding section), for example, speaks to doctors, patients, customers, suppliers, distributors, employees, stockholders and the community at large. As you begin to work on your own company’s values, you need to think about different groups, each of which has some relationship with your company.

Considering the rest of the crew

If you think about it, you may be surprised at how many types of people are involved in what your company does – everyone from suppliers to distributors and from bankers to customers. Each group has its own set of interests and looks to your company to fulfil a series of promises. The explicit promises that you make may take the form of legal agreements, licenses, freelance agreements, or purchase orders. Your implicit promises represent the unwritten purchase orders. Your implicit promises represent the unwritten expectations of the various groups that have dealings with your company.

Putting Together the Values Statement

When you’ve a good idea of just who your company’s stakeholders are, and when you’ve got to grips with the general beliefs and principles that your company already holds, you have to bring these two worlds together. But how do you create a written statement of values based on those general beliefs and principles that also guide your company toward doing the right thing in the eyes of all your stakeholders?

First, keep in mind that your company’s values statement represents more than a quick to-do list. Your values reach beyond quarterly goals or even yearly targets. They’re meant to guide you through those tough decisions as you build a sustainable business that lasts and grows over years and decades.

Developing a values statement

You may not have the luxury of spending weeks or months to develop a values statement, so we show you a quick way to create one to set your company on the right track. If your company is small, you can follow the steps yourself or with one or two of your colleagues – no need for long meetings and careful review.

Lastly Comment

Why is the quick way to create a values statement not always good enough? If you’re part of a large firm, the quick way relies heavily on the ideas and suggestions of people at the top of the organization. Yet the best insights on company values often come from employees themselves – people from different backgrounds and various levels in the company who can draw on a range of business experiences. The long way to create a values statement takes a little more effort, but getting these employees involved usually is worth it.

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