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Values & Culture

Business Values & Company Culture: Why Have Them and How to Define Them

By 03/01/2022January 17th, 2023No Comments

We talk a lot about culture and values throughout our training and coaching- but what is the difference and why are both so important in their own right? They are inherently intertwined, but a basic distinction is:

Values are the standards that guide the way you do business. They are steadfast and do not change. A company should be able to make all decisions based on its values; they can be applied in all situations and should be a hard baseline for tough decisions.

Culture is the way in which those values are applied in the day-to-day life of the company. This can evolve and move with the times, but it will always be rooted in the company’s values. Our favourite way to define the idea is ‘Culture is what people do when no one is watching’.

So, now we have a basic understanding, let’s dig a little deeper and find out why both are integral to the success of a company and its employees:

Why Are Culture And Values Important?

Clearly communicated values and the culture that bonds your team together to apply them is massively influential to a company’s success.

Your values will influence everything you do- they drive how and why you do things and create something of a bottom line to help you make tough decisions. Values should help your business evolve and grow but without losing sight of what’s important. They are often a moral compass for business leaders.

Culture affects every employee. It’s what defines the ‘feel’ or ‘character’ of your company and brings your teams together- it also has a huge effect on employee happiness and therefore, very likely, your attrition rate.

A survey by Deloitte found that “94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.” while according to Forbes; “Companies with strong cultures saw a 4x increase in revenue growth.”

Those statistics can’t be ignored.

Deloitte’s survey also found a huge correlation between employees who believed their companies had a strong culture and those same employees feeling happy and valued at work.

Some Examples Of Strong Company Values

Most companies will be built on a base of core values, possibly without ever really defining them or sitting down to think about them. If you’ve not put much thought into it, chances are you already keep some of these basic values in mind when making key decisions:

  • Integrity
  • Boldness
  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Commitment to Customers
  • Passion
  • Fun
  • Humility
  • Continuous Learning
  • Ownership
  • Constant Improvement
  • Leadership
  • Diversity
  • Innovation
  • Quality
  • Teamwork
  • Simplicity

These are the building blocks for more in-depth values. We can see Apple’s fully fleshed core values in an email from their CEO, Tim Cook. They are clearly built on a few of the foundation values above.

  1. We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
  2. We believe in the simple, not the complex.
  3. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
  4. We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
  5. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
  6. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
  7. We don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
Top tip: Your core values only work if you can hire, promote and fire based on them. If you can’t do this, chances are they’re not clear or strong enough and you need to re-define them.

How Company Culture Affects Employees

A strong culture is what brings your employees together under one umbrella and in line with your values. It should attract and hold on to the right talent- and if you’re successful in attracting the right, like-minded individuals, it should bolster employee happiness and satisfaction.

There has been a lot of research into the correlation between strong company cultures and employee/business success. It comes down to something of a snowball or domino effect.

Strong culture leads to embedded values and a recruitment process that attracts like-minded individuals who can then work together and pull in the same direction. Teams feel valued in their work and like they’re part of something they believe in, which leads to employee loyalty and low attrition. Teams understand the ‘character’ of the company and will work with that in mind and with their best foot forwards as they’re personally invested in the company’s success.

Essentially, a company culture ensures everyone is moving in the same direction and with the same goals in mind.

The Importance Of A Purpose-Driven Culture

Gallup has some great insights into this and they ask a very simple yet far-reaching question:

When your organisation succeeds, does the world also flourish?

It’s an increasingly important question with consumers becoming more and more aware of corporate social responsibility and the knock-on effects of supporting businesses without a moral grounding to their practices.

But it’s also important to employees.

Gallup’s research found that only 27% of employees strongly agree that their organisation always delivers on the promises it makes to customers. Less than half of B2B customers (46%) strongly believe that the companies they do business with always deliver on their promises and only 4 in 10 employees strongly agree that the mission or purpose of their organisation makes them feel their job is important.

The effect of employees feeling out of step with the overall purpose of their companies can be pretty dramatic, as Wayfair, Pinterest, Google and others have infamously experienced through walkouts and public criticism from employees.

It may seem a hefty burden to bear, but in today’s world, the impact of everything your company does should be considered in the wider context- even as far as its impact on the world as a whole if your practices are that far-reaching.

Who Creates Company Culture And Where Can Problems Arise?

To create a genuine company culture that permeates all teams you must actively and mindfully shape people’s thoughts and beliefs around the vision you have.

Reading that back it may sound manipulative and a little creepy… it’s not, we promise!

What we mean is you must make the effort to get people excited and to make sure they feel proud and appreciative of the culture. Enlist them, empower them and encourage them. When they “own” it, the culture will thrive.

Culture starts at the very top. Your C-Level team must live and breathe your values and culture or it simply won’t work. The biggest mistake some employers make is to strive for all of the above without living the ideals of the culture themselves.

You have GOT to walk the walk, be the example and lead from the front.

How To Define And Develop Your Business Values And Culture

To first define your key values and then to foster the right culture to embed and build upon those values take some thought.

It can be tempting, especially for small start-ups, to assume that everyone in the team is just naturally on the same page and working with the same values in mind. But if you dedicate some time to a discussion around your core values, you may find some points of difference.

It’s never too late to actively sit down with your leadership team and hash out a list of core values that you can truly run your business by. Without a clearly defined list, you’re probably not fostering the perfect culture to uphold those beliefs which can cause a disparity in your teams.

By scoping out a selection of cultural thoughts and values, we help your leaders cement these down into values and culture that match the company strategy and purpose. The next, most significant step, is making these operational. There is nothing worse than a wall full of nicely framed buzzwords, which no one remembers or worse, no one aligns with. Through our quirky resourceful style and engaging workshops with managers, we will help you instil business values and company culture as everyday operational guiding principles.

For more information on how our team of culture change consultants can help, fill in the form below and we can start the conversation.

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