Mon entreprise, mes valeurs !

My company, my values!

How to bring the values of a company to life?

We are no longer in the days when we thought the company was there only to generate profit. And fortunately ! We have been considering the company values as important. They play on thebrand image, so on sales and the turnover. It also permeates the corporate culture by promoting a good working environment.

Imagine your business is a tree. If its fruits are your turnover, your values are undoubtedly its roots.

In this article, I'm going to talk less about so-called “exogenous” values (that is to say, which promote your corporate image to customers) than so-called “endogenous” ones. What are endogenous values? This is what builds your corporate culture. The values that make people want to work with you. And your employees to stay there and adhere to 200 % to your vision.

Here are my four tips for bring your values to life in your business !

1. Define the values of your company

Spreading your values in the company is good, but you still have to have them. Have you thought about it?

Big companies have understood the value of having a business ethics. (unfortunately some people color their business ethically with a lot of communication and greenwashing.)

Very often VSEs like yours have an ethical foundation, but entrepreneurs are not aware of it. Or, then, they don't formulate it. Yet, as the creator and leader of your business, you are the one who sets the momentum. The vision comes from you. And this vision goes hand in hand with values that must be promoted internally.

You wonder how to define values of your company and your brand ? This may take some thought. It's not a good idea to take just any "trending" keyword to make it worth. The approach must be authentic to convince both your employees and your customers. I advise you to take the time to think about it. In general, these values are moral (transparency, quality…), societal (environment, ethics…), social (proximity…), strategic (innovation…).

Promoting local suppliers, offering a local service, selling fair trade or organic products… stem from clearly identified corporate values.

These core corporate values can be for example:

  • the desire to provide a local service in an abandoned geographic area;
  • the desire to offer products that are better for health;
  • the desire to create links in a village or a neighborhood;
  • etc.

By definition, a company's values allow you to stand out from the competitionbecause we are all unique. Do not neglect them !

If you already know your values perfectly, well done! We move on. 😉

2. Establish a charter of values

How to bring the values of a company to life? You must first put these values black on white. Formalize in writing the act of adopting a certain ethics. It is best in this case to write a corporate values charter.

The values charter, by definition, clearly indicates what are the moral, social, environmental and strategic concerns of your very small business.

How to write a charter of values?

Take back your vision, that of step 1. Proximity. Innovation. The environment. Etc.

Then identify the values that underpin this vision. For example, in the case of the environment, it could be the protection of animals. The fight against global warming. But also human health.

How do you position yourself in relation to each of these values? Dig into the thinking to set your vision apart from that of others.

Finally, ask yourself how your values can be transformed into acts. This is the final step in the process. If the links between the environment and human health are your major concern, you may want to focus on the products you use in your business (healthier, from a very demanding organic farming charter, for example).

In any case, your values must be able to materialize through realistic and appropriate actions. Otherwise, they will ultimately be empty words, and this lack of authenticity never fools for long.

The values charter: a common endeavor

As I told you, the leader - you - has an essential role in this process. It was you who planted the seed that gave birth to this beautiful tree that is your business, after all.

However, that doesn't mean that you have to define company values from the top of an ivory tower.

On the contrary, the drafting of the charter is an opportunity to create cohesion within your structure. All your employees should participate. You have an advantage over large corporations: it's still much easier to involve people at your level than at a company with hundreds of employees. Enjoy it!

Invest your employees in thinking about the values of your company!

There is little point in writing a charter if nobody in your company understands it, adheres to it and applies it. So I come to my third piece of advice: bring your values to life in the field by focusing on your employees!

3. Focus on your employees or how to bring a company's values to life in the field

I am convinced that it is internally that we can best start developing our values. It is then easier to make it a force in terms of business communication. The message is more natural and more authentic.

Apply values in the company on a daily basis

The advantage of very small businesses is that it is often much easier to collect the sincere impressions of the various employees, without going through intermediaries who can filter the opinions of each other. So, to the extent that you will have really established the charter with all your employees, they should be in line with your values… Theoretically.

Indeed, in practice, there is often a discrepancy. After all, it is easier to say "Tobacco is bad for you" than to quit. 😉

You can pass a short questionnaire on the values of the company among your employees. For each of the values in your charter, ask them to say:

  • if he adheres to it (“I agree that tobacco is bad for your health”);
  • if he believes it is applicable to the company ("I think most of my colleagues can do without cigarettes");
  • if he feels capable of appropriating it easily (“I will succeed in quitting smoking”).

(This is just an example, of course. This doesn't mean that I recommend trying to get your employees to quit smoking! 😉)

This exercise will allow you to see how these values are perceived and if they are realistic and adapted to your structure.

The limits of management by values

Having a team united around common values is great. But it doesn't always work. If I use my cigarette metaphor, one of your staff just can't or might not want to quit. Is it up to you to force him to do so?

How to bring the values of a company to life when your employees are not in tune with you?

Placing values in the company to guide or suggest employee behavior does not work. Employees must agree to these principles without you having forced them. Their full and complete adhesion is the main factor of success.

An employee convinced by the values of the company is much more convincing to customers.

Take the example of a massage parlor that uses organic essential oils produced locally. This choice is dictated both by:

- concern for the health of its clients (environmental value linked to human health);

- a desire to use short circuits (social value with the promotion of a local economy and environmental value with the reduction of CO2 emissions).

If one of your employees is not at all aware of these issues, they cannot make the experience of this massage as unique as another employee who is enthusiastic about it. Even if he pretends to believe in it, to adapt to the corporate charter.

Communicate your values when recruiting

This is the reason why values should be addressed in job interview.

All the people who join you must relate to the values of your company. It's important to talk about this early on so you know if you are making the right choice (and if that person is making the right choice to join you). Lean on your charter, it's there for that too.

Maybe it was your values that made people want to apply to you?

4. Set an example as a business leader

Values come from you. You do not formalize them alone, but it is you who give the impetus. It is your vision that is translated into action, daily, in your company. Your collaborators adhere to it, but it is you who sowed the seeds.

You set an example through your actions and decisions on a daily basis. Let's say you focus on human health in your internal communication on company values. Are you going to accept a partnership with a supplier who is lobbying pro-pesticides? It would be a funny conflict of ethical values.

Likewise, if your charter of values emphasizes diversity and the mixed. Do you have a team that translates these priorities? Are your employees aware of the issues of racism and sexism?

You embody your company's values at the highest level. Be inspiring for your employees!

Your employee who does not believe in the added value of organic and local essential oils may well be convinced in the long term by your passion to talk about it. 😉

Your belief in your values is a source of motivation for your employees!

How to bring the values of a company to life? For a leader, it is above all a question of knowing:

  • inspire its employees;
  • confidently manage its teams.

Pretty colored plaques that evoke your corporate values will have less impact on your employees than the way you lead, communicate and be on a daily basis.

It requires business management skills that the leaders of TPE did not always have time to acquire. It also requires a certain entrepreneur mindset, made of confidence in oneself and in others, esteem and optimism.

In this type of case, the use of a entrepreneur coach is precious. I am expert in business management and I promote a ethical entrepreneurship based on the authenticity of its values. Contact me ! The first appointment is completely free. 🙂

Pictures: StockSnapAnastasia geppsilviaritaTumisu 

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