There are three critical questions to ask yourself when defining your company values: are they accurate, are they meaningful and are they future-proof. If you can’t answer these questions, your values need some work.
Before I go any further into advising you on how to develop a good set of company values, I’d like to take a step back and talk about why values are important to a business, and what they have to do with your Marketing.
First off, they let other people know what you think is important. Is it profitability? Customer service? Satisfied clients? Secondly, it gives you a platform for making decisions within your business. Does the proposed item align with your values? Finally, clear values, properly implemented, make sure that everyone within the business is moving in the same direction.
So, with clearly defined values, it’s easier to convey who you are and what you stand for with your clients, prospects, employees, vendors and marketing partners to ensure your values are always top of mind.
You can follow these steps to write a great set of company values:
Start with adjectives.
What words would you use to describe your business? Honest and supportive? Bold and groundbreaking? Reserved and thoughtful? Put together a list of 5-10 words and then narrow down to the 3-4 that best describe your business.
Build out supporting statements to what you want your company values to be.
Write short descriptions of how you evidence these values on a daily basis. If there are more than a few people at your company, make sure to think broadly so that they are applicable to everyone. For example, you should say “we will use clear, simple language” instead of “we will speak clearly to our customers” – the first includes everyone from IT to customer service, while the second is only applicable to customer-facing roles.
Train your employees.
Values are irrelevant if no one knows what they are. Put together a short presentation to train your employees. Answer any questions and make sure everyone knows how the values relate to their role in the business. And while it should go without saying, YOU must be congruent with these values more than anyone.
Hold people accountable to your company values.
Build in accountability to your standard review process. Rate employees (and yourself) on how well they are living out the value statements. You can even bring in a fun element by creating an awards or recognition program.
Tell the world about your company values.
The last step in redefining your company values is to tell the world who you are. You can do this by updating your About webpage to add in elements of the value statements. Or you could make a company video or presentation. For small business owners with a limited customer base, let them know directly by sending a letter, email, making a phone call or even a sign in your location.
Writing a formalized mission statement is a great way to communicate your values in a simple way. In this article by Patrick Hull, he mentions 4 key questions to ask yourself when formulating a Mission statement… It’s a great place to start.
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- Whom do we do it for?
- What value are we bringing?
Take a moment now and think about your company values. Do you have any? Do they accurately describe who you are? Would your customers use them when describing you? Would you be proud to advertise it? If not, perhaps it is time to rewrite your company values.