Since first hearing about values-driven companies, I’ve been a real advocate of this as a central core of your business life. After all, I’ve experienced personally the undermining conflict that working within a business that does not share your values first-hand, and it is a miserable existence, constantly trying to fit yourself into a space that sucks your energy, passion and commitment. You can do it for a while but eventually, you become exhausted by it.
How many organisations have their values plastered all over the website but pay lip service to it? Seeing it as the latest thing to do to attract customers, employees and positive PR. Over the years I’ve recruited for hundreds of companies, and I believe that you just know when you walk into an organisation where the values are lived and breathed and you can absolutely tell when they are window dressing.
Take the tale I heard recently about a company whose core values included respect. And yet one of the senior managers was observed loudly berating the receptionist about something that had not been done, in the reception area in front of visitors – the behaviour belies the value and undermines the whole system.
It’s difficult when you embark on values as your core leadership measure, agreeing on the common language and set of behaviours, engaging your teams, being relentless in following through and learning through the process takes perseverance, commitment and engagement from everyone.
However, the benefits are like a ripple from a stone in a pond. In my experience better decisions, better engagement, happier people representing your brand, a team that is bonded, able to challenge effectively and achieve better collaboration, shared purpose and better productivity.
Working as a recruitment partner with my clients, I see that a key benefit from living a strong values-based culture is the ability to hire and retain great people, in a more sophisticated society where talent is scare and opportunity abundant, hiring is difficult. In my experience, those organisations who lead with values and demonstrate these through the recruitment process, have a fuller choice of candidates AND retain their new talent.