In a world with so many alternatives available every time we make a business decision – be they operational, financial, structural, or other strategic decisions – the importance of well-defined, guiding core values should never be underestimated.
A genuine set of well-defined core values can guide all behaviours and decision making of an organisation. Involving all members of a business, the result can be a sense of unity and cohesion across all members of the team.
They assist in providing the members of an organisation with a purpose as to what they do every day, enabling a definition of not what they do, but why they do it.
For you, as a leader
Values should be at the core of all business leader’s decisions. They define what your business stands for in a way that will allow it to grow in a meaningful and clearly-defined direction. They should therefore be weaved into your processes, policies, strategies and relationships.
For your employees
Your values allow your team to unify and forge ahead as a community with shared inspiration and purpose. It also helps to guide them in their everyday decision making to ensure their actions align with your business’s overall strategy and vision.
For your customers
Your clients – who have their own set of principles and ideals – will need to consider your organisation’s values when deciding whether or not to partner with you. If you have no evident set of goals or standards, it will be more difficult for them to work out if you are a good match. Shared values will bind you and promote mutual understanding.
For your suppliers
Your suppliers need to be able to form a collaborative relationship with you, adding value to procurement that goes beyond price negotiation and short-term opportunism. An alignment of objectives will help you to become a customer of choice for your key providers.
For investors and lenders
Investors and lenders have a part of their financial future tied up in your business. It’s in your interest to attract them at the outset with your brand values, and then continue to give them confidence and reassurance as they go on their journey with you.
How to define your values
An organisation’s values must be more than vague, feel-good platitudes put into print. They need to be founded on deep consultation and analysis, to say something genuine and fundamental about who you are and what you stand for.
Defining values requires a deep level of consultation. Once defined, an education and engagement program will help ensure that everyone understands and embraces them. Moving forward, the values must be imbued into, and demonstrated by every level and every arm of the business.
Start by consulting your community. This will involve speaking with all team members, from junior employees to the chairman of the board. Then consult with clients, prospective clients, suppliers, shareholders and all other stakeholders. Consider using round-table discussions and market research to identify ideas, to gather different perspectives and to understand perceptions.
Once you have completed consultation, you should arrive at a concise set of statements that identify and crystalise the shared values that are meaningful to the organisation and unites all of its stakeholders.
Rectify perception gap
You may find that you run up against a ‘perception gap’ – the mismatch between people’s perception of your brand and your value propositions for it. In simpler terms, it’s the difference between the way people see your company, and the way you want them to see it. You will need to carefully analyse this divergence, and adjust your communication content and mechanisms to fill in the gap.
Then, with your brand values defined and understood internally and externally, use them to support your vision, prioritise development initiatives, and drive the organisation’s strategic direction.
How to utilise your values
Your brand values should never be merely a set-and-forget page on your website, or a framed adornment for your premises’ reception area. They need to be firmly embedded in your organisation’s mechanics to support decision-making at the highest level. There are further actions you need to take in order to achieve this.
Hold further discussions
This second round of consultation with leaders and stakeholders will help you identify where your values can be embedded into policy and processes.
Develop the culture
Brand values should assist in building a strong and coherent culture within the organisation, via team-based initiatives and rituals, and by hiring for characteristics that affirm the values.
Eliminate the negative
Having clear values helps to determine what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour. Any internal practices or attitudes that fall outside the strategic framework of the brand values need to be identified and dealt with.
Measure and reward the positive
Individual and team key performance indicators will help you and your team to measure and demonstrate your success at implementing, upholding and being guided by those values. Consider performance recognition and incentive programs for staff members who genuinely get on board.
Adopt continuous consultation
Your values cannot be set in stone. Be prepared to actively seek and listen to feedback from all stakeholders on an ongoing basis. Revisit your brand values often, to keep them constantly relevant in a fast-changing world.
Lessons learned from Bentleys’ values refresh
Here, at Bentleys, we understand the importance of brand values, having recently embarked on a values refresh process ourselves.
Our previous set of values was out-of-date. So, we went through the consultation process already described, determined to identify what was unique about our organisation – our personality, sense of humour, openness and accessibility, as well as the aspirational elements of our business and our genuine care for our clients’ outcomes.
We defined four key values, each with its own subset of behavioural guidelines. After road-testing with our team, we refined them and undertook further significant consultation to confirm that they resonated with our wider community. These values will help to support Bentleys’ growth trajectory.
This is what we are.
We are committed to building relationships, and acting with honesty and integrity. We are real, genuine, loyal, passionate and enthusiastic. We are respectful, trustworthy and accountable, while striving to deliver excellence.
Bentleys’ expertise is used to build a sustainable future for its people, its clients and its community. This involves having the ability to adapt to change, and understanding clients and markets while developing ourselves and others in order to create opportunities to improve. It means that we care and are genuinely interested in our clients lives.
We are bold, agile and proactive. We look beyond the numbers and are savvy with our advice. We think ahead, embrace the future and encourage innovation. We are proud of what we are, and our team are our advocates.
Together we are stronger, and endeavour to function as part of a broader team. We collaborate while celebrating our diversity. Our aim is to be fair, ethical, empathetic and inclusive.
What the future holds
Internal education and wider community edification of our new values are still in their early stages. Further implementation of our values will be an ongoing process, involving continuous consultation with stakeholders until the values are fully embedded and our people take proud ownership as Bentleys ambassadors.
We have designed programs and shared eco systems that will enable us to enact these values, foster relationships and build a stronger community. But some things will not change.
While we embrace new technology, we will not replace our personal approach to end-to-end service delivery, and the provision of practical solutions with tangible outcomes.
Authentic conversations will keep everyone in our entire network informed and supported.
Our values will help to reinforce our position in the market as an expert provider of practical, strategic and transformative services that serve to build stronger communities.
Engage with us
As a valued member of Bentleys’ community, we invite you to join us as we live our values. What can we do differently, more or less of, to support you and your business? Share your perspectives with your local Bentleys advisor today.
Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.