Definition and Benefits of a Values Statement

Posted by Kristin Arnold on July 1, 2012

Value statements are declarations about how the organization wants to value their customers, suppliers and be valued within their own internal community.   These value statements explicitly define how people will behave with each other in the organization.

They become “shared values” when the organization as a whole takes the time to define the core values in a collaborative manner.  Generally speaking, the greater agreement you have in developing these shared values, the more meaningful they become.  When values are internalized by the people in the organization,  they have meaning and impact on their behaviors:

  • Values guide every decision that is made.
  • These organizational values help each person establish priorities in their daily work life.  Priorities and actions are grounded in the organization’s values.
  • Adoption of the values and behaviors are integrated into the regular performance feedback cycle.
  • Rewards and recognition within the organization are structured to recognize those people whose work embodies the values.
  • The organization hires and promotes individuals whose outlook and actions are congruent with the organization’s values.

A Values Statement typically has three components:

  1. The name of the value
  2. A clarifying statement or definition.
  3. A few key behavioral attributes

Here is an example of two brief values statements taken from a company I facilitated many years ago:

Adaptability/Flexibility – Remaining flexible and adapting to change.

  • We seek the input of others.
  • We maintain a positive and open attitude toward new ideas.
  • Once a decision has been made, we adjust to the best of our ability without whining.

Responsibility – Being accountable for our actions.

  • We fulfill our roles and responsibilities to the best of our abilities.
  • We accept responsibility for our actions.
  • We keep others informed.
  • We gain consensus in areas where others’ support is required.
  • We make and support business decisions through experience and good judgment.

Keep in mind, these statements articulate two values within a specific organization – not YOUR organization.  They probably don’t resonate with you – nor should they!  They were uniquely written and developed by the people who will live these values on a daily basis.

Furthermore, keep the list down to a handful -preferably 3, no more than 5.  Why?  Because it’s hard to hold people accountable to myriad values.  Where do you focus?  Which trumps another? When you have too many values, the organization tends to loose focus and energy.

Take a look at your organizational values.  Do they provide the focus, energy and importance about how you do the work that you do?

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