value. plural noun: values.
The moral principles and beliefs or accepted standards of a person or social groups. Collins Dictionary.
Something I’ve learnt about myself is just how much emphasis I place on getting my personal values aligned with my working values.
I am at the age and stage now where I have absolute clarity on this, the things that matter to me and drive me.
Forming Sprout NZ with a team of people I didn't know was, I'll admit, a little scary. In hindsight, my fear wasn't around the questions of 'will it work?', it was ‘will we be on the same page?' in how we act and behave.
Two years on, I can now truly appreciate the importance of us being aligned and why it's absolutely essential that no matter who you work with, your underlying values are consistent.
I have now also worked with many other organisations on creating clarity on their values and I have to say, that’s been easier than trying to define your own!
Why is it so important to be aligned on values?
From my experience, being aligned on values has mattered the most when its come to the following:
Decision making - allowing creative thinking
Being able to discuss different perspectives, experiences and how they form the basis of decisions can only be achieved effectively if there is open dialogue. When you understand each point of view and the values of those individuals, it enables more creative and collective decision making.
Trust - you cannot be involved in every decision
While It’s not possible to be involved in every conversation, when you know you are singing from the same song sheet (i.e., you have shared values), you can have trust and confidence in the decisions being made. This is also empowering and motivating for other members of the team.
The future - riding the rollercoaster
We don’t know what’s around the corner and there will be many scenarios where we will be challenged. However, when values are aligned, there’s a greater chance of effectively and collectively navigating through these challenges and coming out the other end stronger.
Why should you care as a business owner?
Sadly, values are often considered as a 'nice to have'.
If you are a business that does not have defined values, here are a few thought starters, that will hopefully encourage you to consider doing this:
Honest conversations: Defining a set of shared values creates an environment that promotes healthy and honest dialogue within your business.
Alone you can go faster, but together you can go further: It will take an enormous weight off your shoulders knowing you can tackle challenges effectively as a team, rather than on your own. Clearly defined values give you the framework for this.
Clarity for everyone: Everyone from the MD/CEO to the most junior person makes mistakes. Pointing them back to the core values and what you stand for means that everyone is treated equally and is measuring themselves consistently.
In summary, business values are not defined to create parameters or rules, they are there to provide guidance and foster genuine team working. It's worked for Sprout and it's working for the many small to medium size businesses we consult for.
If you’re interested in learning more about Sprout’s approach to helping you co-create or reinvigorate your values, connect with me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I would love to discuss this with you.