What are your business’s values? Do you know? Have you articulated them to anyone?
Any business book you read these days will ask if you know what your business’s core values are. It’s a bit of a step on from mission or vision statements, although these things are still talked about.
A business’s core values are defined as the philosophies or principles that guide its internal conduct as well as its relationship with its customers and other stakeholders. They are the guiding principles that help to define how the business and its employees will behave.
I find all this airy fairy talk a bit hard to follow. Much of what people say are core values are just basic must haves to me. For example, to say we act with honesty and integrity. Of course we do; that’s to be expected.
Another definition I’ve read says, “Core Values are the essence of a company’s identity; they support the vision and shape the culture of an organisation. Core Values cannot be plagiarized and made to fit an organisation. They need to be developed from within to be authentic to your company and employees.”
It’s the word “culture” that hooked me. What is the culture of a business and how do you shape it to be what the business needs it to be? In my experience, culture always come from the top, no matter the size of the organisation. It’s particularly true in small and medium businesses. But the more people you have in a business, the more important it is that everyone is pulling in the same direction. If your team aren’t behaving the way the business needs them to be, you’ll struggle to grow and move forward, let alone maintain where you are now. One way to make sure everyone is aligned is to make sure you all understand the values of the business.
We worked on this this year at our team day last month, while focusing on looking outward to our clients.
We talked about our “why”. Why are we each Accountants or work in an Accountancy firm, why are we in business, why is BW Miller Dean any different to any other firm?
Then we went on to work on what our values around our clients are. We did this as a large group and broken down into smaller groups. Every person on the team was involved. I found it fascinating and invigorating to hear what other people came up with, how they perceived what we are and how we should be. There’s truth in the saying that, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” (Aristotle).
The other great thing about this is that even though what we came up with is just a set of sentences that may not have meaning to anyone else, they have meaning to us. We were all there, working on them together, so we all understand what they all mean!
Here are the client focused values we came up with on team day:
- We maintain a friendly, comfortable, and professional environment
- We work alongside you to educate and aid in the development of your business
- We take care of the details to free you from the worries of business so you have time for the things that matter to you
- Your success is our success!