If they’re too vague to understand, too long to remember and so far removed from reality that nobody believes them, then corporate values are pointless! But why are they important? And who gets it right?
Certainly, corporate values forge a certain culture and organisational mindset. If you know what your company stands for, you’ll have an easier time recruiting people who represent or share the same values. When everyone abides to the same code of conduct, it’s easier to achieve the corporate objectives.
Like a football team, everybody has a role and place on the field and if there is no teamwork, a belief that you’ll win, the game will be goalless. Corporate values help set the groundwork for establishing a great football team. Values represent an underlying set of principles that create team coherence and a winning attitude.
Lucy Kellaway (in her article “Finnish lesson on principles for Goldman”) provides an example of how two organisations approach their corporate values. One is extremely straightforward in what they want to achieve and the other perhaps somewhat misleading.
Lucy points out that Stockmann, the Finnish retailer, has “We are in business to make money; all our operations should support this goal” as their first principle. Well, that’s certainly the purpose of any business, unless your organisation is a non-profit of course. Is it too obvious?
Although simple, it’s still the primary purpose of any company. Without making money, there simply is no company! It’s clever to articulate the role of all departments and employees to support sales. Make it official and clearly understood: We’re here to make money!
For recruiters and employer branding professionals, the job of identifying the type of employees your organisation wish to attract, recruit and retain is made easier by having established corporate values. Make sure you spend that precious time with management (if not already clearly defined) to create or evaluate your guiding principles.
Nobody can deny that corporate values forge a corporate culture. But what’s important to stress is that those values need to be clear and simple, easily understood by all employees, and more importantly – believed in! Would anyone disagree with making money? Of course not, otherwise he/she will soon be jobless.