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Are Your Company Values Just Fluff?

Have you noticed how many companies have values like Teamwork, Integrity, Respect, Honesty, Compassion, Equality etc. up on their walls and on their company websites? I shake my head when I read these! Today, these one-word values are a ‘given’ for every company and should be what every employee embodies. To tell the world what kind of a company you are and what people you want, you need to transcend these one-word values.

So how do you go beyond single words to truly define and articulate your own company values and what you stand for? Well, you’ve got to dig deep into your company DNA and see what matters to you most and what makes you different. This deep soul-searching defines the kind of company you want to be and the type of people you want to surround yourself with.

Clearly articulating your values shows the world what you believe in and attracts the right people to you. Simply having one-word values doesn’t help achieve this. You need to clearly express the defining principles of the company.

Let’s look at some examples:

Facebook’s has included “move fast and break things” as one of their values. It has since been modified to “move fast with stable infrastructure.” In essence, what this implies is that Facebook values people that challenge the norm, fail fast and learn fast. This mantra empowers Facebook engineers to constantly test new things out and challenge existing processes and systems.

This is what powers innovation at the company and keeps Facebook ahead of the curve.This value is also used to filter out people during the hiring process. Facebook looks for people that are in synch with this value and who will challenge the norm and status quo. This is true hiring for culture fit.

As another example, MailChimp, the email creation and automation company, has empowering employees’ growth as one of its core values. They deliver on this by making sure every employee goes through The MailChimp University, their learning hub, which they developed with leading University professors.

The weekly coffee hour is when the entire company comes together to listen to inspirational speakers. This keeps employees connected and powered up for growth.

HubSpot, recently voted as one the best places to work has “We give ourselves the autonomy to be awesome” as one of their values.

This translates to, “We trust ourselves.” While other companies have lengthy policies, procedures, and rules, HubSpot’s policy is simply to “use good judgement.” This covers their social media, travel, sick days, and events.

Good judgement is simply clarified as favouring your team’s interest over your own, the company’s interests over your team’s, and the customer’s interest over the company. This edict empowers HubSpot employees with the freedom to work when, where, and how they want. What matters most to them, are remarkable results.

Once you craft your values, you need to ensure that you have buy-in across the company and that employees pledge to ‘live’ these values every day. Having your unique company values clearly spelt out and well articulated, helps build the foundations for a strong company culture.

So, take a long hard look at your company values. Are they just fluff? Or do they truly reflect who you are as a company and what differentiates you from the rest of the pack?

About the author

Ashok Miranda is a Business Transformation Architect and founder of Transform and Transcend. He is the author of the book; Culling Cuturitis: How To Rid Your Company Of This Toxic Disease and Build a Winning Company Culture. As a speaker, consultant, and trainer, he is passionate about architecting a better business world by helping build purpose-driven companies and exceptional workplaces that foster happy and engaged employees. Ashok's areas of expertise encompasses company culture transformation, brand and marketing transformation and customer experience transformation.

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