What are organizational values?
Organizational values are the set of behavioral norms, beliefs and principles that work as the guide and core foundation of the organization’s code of ethics and conduct. They help define an organization and serve as a blueprint by which employees and management address problems and solve issues.
Organizational values guide employee behavior, day-to-day activities and the objectives you set for your business. They also serve to strengthen your employee value proposition (EVP) and employer brand to help you attract the right candidates to your open roles.
Building organizational values
The actual process of building values can vary from company to company, but there are some essential steps that are beneficial to almost any organization:
1. Why did you start your business?
The first step in building values is identifying the factors and motivations behind why you started your business. Depending on the nature of your work, this could be a desire to help other business owners or to provide specific products and services to consumers. These factors that have led you to establish your business can serve as the blueprint for establishing your company values.
If you set up your business with the goal of providing an honest service to customers, for example, one of the core organizational values you decide on might be integrity. If your goal is to provide environmentally-friendly products, one of your organizational values could be a commitment to eco-friendly practices.
2. Define your personal values
The next step is to define values that are authentic and true to yourself. Your organizational values should generally reflect your own personal values as closely as possible. Although the values you decide on should be relevant and significant to your industry, making sure they align with your core values is just as important.
Customers and employees can often tell whether or not the organizational values conform to the founder’s own beliefs. Basing your corporate values on the principles that you practice in your personal life will help establish your authenticity and trustworthiness among employees and the public.
3. Determine the most important values for customers and clients
Next, ensure that the organizational values you present resonate with your customers and clients. Regardless of the type of business, your customers will always have expectations of your company. Strive to align your values with these expectations in order to increase your chances of connecting with a broader base of customers. Think about the values that are common in your niche, and figure out which are most closely aligned to the expectations of your target market.
4. Outline the ideal values for your employees
Draw up a set of values that you feel exemplify your ideal employee. The organizational values you come up with can serve as a guide for employees, enabling them to live up to their full potential while making sure they remain positive, contributing members of your company.
Remember to outline relevant values for an ideal team as well. Employees almost always work as part of a larger group, so they will benefit from an established set of values that apply to teams as well as individuals. Values that guide how groups of people work together and fulfill their roles will make it easier for individual employees to achieve their goals.
5. Get employees involved
Conduct employee focus groups or send out surveys to get your employees involved in building your company’s organizational values. Ask them what they believe your business stands for, what their personal values are and what they think makes your company unique. This can help you generate ideas for your organizational values and make sure they reflect the values of your workforce.
6. Ensure that your values are actionable
Actions speak louder than words when it comes to organizational values. Ensure that the values you present are realistic and actionable. Try to go beyond the theoretical and the idealistic, and come up with values that everyone in your organization can practice and put into action in a practical and relevant manner.
Take time to outline the steps that will put each value into action and the specific procedures involved. This will ensure that everyone in your organization — from individual employees to teams and management — can fully demonstrate and live up to the values you establish.