For any business experiencing growing pains, the following question is certain to arise: Is there any benefit in defining company values?
Looking at PaySmart’s own experience of growth, I believe corporate values are an absolute pillar for ongoing success. Like PaySmart, many SMEs begin life as an intimate, family-owned business. Those that thrive and expand can risk losing their family culture as the day-to-day running of the business takes over.
Without defined values however, it’s difficult to have a strong culture. And culture is the heartbeat of your customer service ethic, your brand, and your ability to attract great talent.
As highlighted in a recent Forbes article, employees are increasingly looking for companies that provide a supportive, motivating, team-focused and fun environment. At Twitter for example, staff appreciate the emphasis on ‘open dialogue’ and ‘fearless communication’. At Chevron, employees put ‘safety first’ and always look out for one another.
Drawing on PaySmart’s experience, we’ve recently gone through the process of redefining our own values, so while it’s fresh in my mind, I thought I’d offer the following thoughts for SMEs considering the importance of corporate values:
Depending on your rate of growth it’s worth reviewing and re-defining your values every couple of years so they stay fresh and reflect where your business is at
- Involving your employees as much as you can in this process can be really worthwhile and can ensure ‘your’ values reflect ‘their’ language – that way your staff are more likely to validate your values and brining them to life
- Ensure your values guide how you interact with customers, how you treat each other as colleagues, how you enjoy what you do and your professionalism
- Live and breathe your values so they become everyday actions:
- Partner with suppliers and clients with similar values
- Recruit like-minded people who demonstrate the qualities that fit with your culture
- Conduct appraisals based on both KPIs and values.
- Engage your senior managers in regularly ‘walking the talk’ and communicating the desired behaviours with their teams. And importantly, remember to acknowledge or reward those behaviours.
If you have any other thoughts to contribute, I welcome you to join this conversation.