Many companies claim they’re value-driven. They have values displayed on websites and intranets, they’re printed and hung on walls and repeated at conferences and in advertisements. But displaying values and living your values are two very different things.
Values are meant to guide the owners, managers and employees of a company when doing business. But for many companies, values appear to be something to strive for, rather than something to live by. And the difference is important.
For example, a common value is honesty. Now I believe that companies with this value want to be honest, but what happens when things get tough? When telling the truth means losing a large contract or having the company’s reputation ruined? Will the owners, managers, and employees still tell the truth?
Remember, values are meant to guide the employees. If we can’t live our values when things get tough, then our so-called values aren’t values at all. They’re simply wish-list of how you want to be perceived by those outside the company.
So if you are in the process of choosing your values – be careful! Well-chosen values can give the company both strength and guidance, but if they are not followed, you might as well do without them.