Today, we are going to talk about values.
I sometimes think that when we talk about values, we tend to think of that group of words sitting on a wall and yes, they’re values. However, if they’re not activated, they’re not really true values.
And a word that hasn’t been used a lot recently is Virtues.
It’s kind of gone out of vogue, but if you think about values as virtues, those things that drive us and our personal way of doing things, it’s a lot more personal.
Values can be a bit company-driven and impersonal. However, if we think of our values as virtues - the way we operate, the way we choose to treat people with integrity and passion and whatever those values might be in your company - then it becomes a lot more personal.
Because, values are only valuable if they are true virtues and if they are impacting the way that we think and the way that we operate everyday.
Often, values are thought as a nice-to-have or just a soft set of words that we kind of have to have. But, if we’re in commercial organisations and we want a commercial outcomes or if you’re in a non-for-profit, there’s social outcomes or community outcomes that we’re looking for. This productivity is the holy grail of getting things done well. And the core of that, for me, is values. Sadly, it’s often underestimated.
If you have great values, great virtues, you create an environment where people are encouraged and being the best that they can be. They’re engaged and if they’re engaged, they’re productive.
Great culture really creates an environment where people want to be a part of what’s going on and, ultimately, that comes out as productivity. Getting the things done that you need to get done. So, there’s a definite link between virtues and productivity.
So, how do you create a set of values or a set of virtues?
You might be in a company that already has a number of those articulated and, for you, it’s really around having the conversations. Ultimately (we’ll talk about this a little later) it’s behaviour that are important. You can believe a set of values, but if they don’t impact your behaviour, they have no value to you nor the organisation.
Creating an environment where people can discuss and talk about how those values impact them as an individual is paramount. Because if you don’t translate those virtues into behaviour, then there’s no real point and they’ll mean different things to different people and they’ll mean different things in different roles.
Getting people together talking about your values, convincing them that those values need to be adopted individually as virtues that will drive behaviour that will eventually take your company to where it is that you’re trying to go.
So, if you do have a set of values in your company, take those, discuss it with your team. What does it mean to you as an individual? What does it mean to you as a team if you reactivated those values?
If you don’t have a set of values or they’re kind of old and dusty, then you can recreate those by having a broader conversation.
There’s a number of different ways you can do that, but, ultimately, it’s a broad conversation around what does it mean to be in a great company.
What does a great company look like? How would we operate if we operated in a perfect world, in a perfect environment, in a perfect company?
There’s never a perfect company, but having that conversation around what does best look like, what does the ideal company look like, team, project, what does perfect look like, there’s something healthy about seeing what their bar looks like and being able to work our way towards a great set of values that are activated in true behaviours and, ultimately, adopted as virtues by the individual.