Are the Value Statements on Your Corporate Website Real?
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Most of us have tried it - listening to corporate presentations supported by far too many powerpoint slides. One of these slides usually reveal the values of the company. But no one really pays attention to it because that slide together with the slide containing the mission and vision statement are only appetisers for the important stuff - the numbers showing how well the company is doing or the products or services the company is offering.
Have you ever asked, “Where do these values come from?” when you have witnessed such a presentation? If you have, it is very likely the answer was “From our website”.
Values Cannot be Defined
The reason why a vast majority get the values wrong is that values can’t be defined and communicated in a powerpoint presentation. It doesn’t work that way. Think about your own family. Do you have a powerpoint presentation describing the values in your family that you can show all visitors and potential daughters-in-law and sons-in-law? The values in your family are a result of your shared history, your actions and your priorities. The real corporate values are no different.
Values don’t come for free. A value is only a value if you are willing to sacrifice something for that value.
Companies who claim customer satisfaction is the most important value. But if you are not willing to sacrifice a slice of your profit in order to put customer satisfaction first, then it is not a value. Then they are just words in a powerpoint presentation and on a website.
On rare occasions we meet companies where everybody is pretty clear about what the values are. We recently helped a hotel group with assessing their cultural DNA. Almost all the employees and managers we talked to were clear about what the values were.
When we asked them “How do you know these are the values?” they were not referring to powerpoint presentations or websites. They were referring to the accepted, encouraged and rewarded behaviour in the hotel group. They explained the values by examples with great enthusiasm.
Values cannot be defined, values are the end product of the behaviour in the organisation.
The Right Values Will Save Your Company on a Rainy Day
When the values are right there is coherence between what you say, what you do and what you are rewarded for. In 1997 James L. Heskett introduced the Service-Profit Chain based on a comprehensive research. His conclusion is that increased employee satisfaction leads to increased customer satisfaction, which leads to increased profitability. Not surprisingly it works the other way too.
When the employees feel that the values are real and protected they will become more satisfied, provide better customer service.
When employees and managers have a bonding based on values with the company they are more willing to stay and help the company through difficult times than if they were only there for the money.
Values are Developed - not Defined
The values you have in your organisation are a product of your behaviour, history and priorities. If you don’t like these values you have to start changing the parameters that form the values. And when you have the right values you have no need to write them on powerpoint presentations and on websites because people will know them by heart.