Businesses are mirrors of their owners in many ways. Often they mirror their owners personalities and the way they work. If the owner is disorganised and untidy, then the business will often look and operate the same way. A small business will reflect all the strengths and weaknesses of it’s leaders. I know this from personal experience too!
In the last article, we talked about culture and how it is defined by your vision, mission and values. In this article we will look at how to define your culture starting with your values. For your vision and mission to be compelling and inspiring they have to be consistent with your values – those things that you hold to be valuable in life in general. However, to enrol and inspire others they also have to be consistent with the values of your team, customers, suppliers, shareholders, etc.
You will naturally attract and recruit people who value similar things to you, and so, by default, the values of the people around you may well be similar. However, it is worthwhile asking because you may uncover some distinctions and subtleties.
Your values will determine the characteristics and behaviours of you, your business and your employees. They will also define which behaviours will not be tolerated.
Putting words to your values can often be difficult. However, values are often best defined by adjectives and adverbs. So find a list and highlight the ones that are most important to you. You may also find it useful to highlight ones that repel you, and then consider the opposite. At this stage, go for volume, because the next steps will help you to refine the list to the most important. Ask yourself these questions and use the list you have created as a prompt:
- What are the most important characteristics each team member must have in your business?
- What must we all focus on as an organisation in order to be our very best?
- What qualities must we look for in the people we hire?
- Which qualities do we want each team member to value the most?
- What qualities would conflict with the ability of the organisation to operate at it’s best.
Get your employees to do this exercise too, then go through the lists and derive a common view and agree on the most important values for your company.
You may come up with a list of 8-12 values that act as your points of culture. Describe what each of these means to you, the organisation, how you operate and what you hope to achieve.
We started by suggesting that that your Mission and Vision had to be consistent with your values. It may happen that following the subsequent exercises to define vision and mission you uncover hidden values or explanations about why certain qualities are important to you. So the final step is to revisit your draft points of culture in light of your mission and vision and then to describe what each of these points mean to you and the organisation, how you operate (Mission) and what you intend to achieve (Vision).