Here at Benefex we are currently in the process of relaunching our Company values. Our new set of values have been revamped, realigned to our business direction, and are designed to give everyone who works for us the best possible chance of succeeding in what they do.

Corporate values have historically been given a bad name – and perhaps not unjustifiably so. We have probably all worked for organisations where the list of values was literally no more than the writing on the wall. Almost all companies will include a series of values statements as part of their strategic checklist. Very few companies, in my experience, do a good enough job of taking these off of the wall and really bringing them to life.

Driving your culture forwards

Because values, when you get them right, can be one of the most powerful tools in your armoury when it comes to proactively driving your culture forwards. For your leaders, for your HR teams, for your people managers and, indeed, for all of your people, they should become the framework around which all business activity should hang. And, when you do get your values right, and when you do truly embed them within your organisation, they will form the path which takes you directly to your business goals.

Too many organisations dismiss corporate values and choose to see them as little more than a whim of the HR team, designed to showcase the fluffier side of the company culture. Yet, ironically, it will be those self same organisations who can be found ruing their gaps in delivery, their frustrations at a prevailing culture which isn’t really delivering what the business needs. Your values are your blueprint to filling that gap and to getting to consistent delivery, every time. It simply comes down to how you choose to use them.

Bringing values to life

To truly exploit the value of values, then, what we need to do is to bring them to life within our organisations. It is about spending time and investing in them – first with your senior leaders, then with your people managers, and then directly with all of your teams within the business. Allow them to own them and allow them to lead in the process of incorporating them into the day to day. Don’t take either your values or your people for granted. However you word your values, they will be interpreted in slightly different ways. Spend time to align that interpretation, to take on feedback, and to allow them to become something more than just a top down diktat which is being enforced. By taking the time to obtain buy in from your teams, you maximise your chances of them being successfully assimilated.

A continued integration

Once the roll out is completed, you might think that the hard work is done. Not so. For values to truly deliver for your business, it is about a continued integration of them within every single business activity which is carried out. Employees should be rewarded against them and developed against them. They should be used for criteria for promotion and for recognition; conversely, where an employee persistently and deliberately chooses to act in a manner not aligned with them, employers should be unafraid to take appropriate corrective action.

In the very crudest sense, you should hire against them, and you should fire against them. If you have your values right, they should form a complete listing of the single most important attributes you expect any individual who works for you to have. Where you compromise on your enforcement of your values, you compromise on your organisational culture, and that means that, ultimately, you compromise on delivery. Which is surely a risk that no organisation can afford to take.

Values matter. Over a series of blog posts I will be exploring the roll out of our revised values here at Benefex, explaining the rationale behind the change, and looking at what each of one of our new values will mean for our operational and strategic delivery.