Why the Big Deal About Values?

By Ann Elliott

Defining the values of an organization is the conventional wisdom today.  Increasingly it is becoming more common for organizations to state values in their literature, collateral and marketing material.  However, are they living it? Does it confound when you have an experience that seems contrary to the stated values of an organization?  For example, “respect” appears frequently as a corporate value. values Recently I received a parking ticket and decided to go pay the fine immediately.  As I waited at the window to hand over my money, I noticed some rules posted just above the window in the counter.  (I do not know if these are organizational values or something that the staff holds as important to them.).  One of the rules related to being respectful. I assumed that meant respectful of the staff that collects payments, keeps records and writes receipts.  After all, they do not issue the fines.  I was the only customer, probably the very first customer of the day.  While the staff conversed amongst themselves behind the window, they completely ignored me.  Finally, without saying a word to me, the clerk took my money, updated the records and gave me a receipt.  The transaction took only a couple of minutes.  As I made my way to the door, I concluded that respect goes both ways. How do the experts define “value”?  Random House says value is “attributed or relative worth, merit, or usefulness.”  The optimum scenario is when people working in an organization have personal values that align with the values of the organization.  You can do your best work together and you can serve your customers at a higher level. Start here to check your alignment.  Identify the values of the organization where you are working or leading.  Are the corporate values expressed in the way employees, customers, suppliers and vendors are treated?  Employees joining the workforce in the 21st century want to be associated with companies that have values similar to theirs.  High turnover often is a symptom that personal and corporate values are out of alignment. Not only can you lose good employees, you can lose customers, too.  When companies tout excellent customer service as a value, for example, but deliver poorly, customers take their business to other providers. Next, identify clearly your personal values.  Only when you know your values can you align them with corporate values or see that they are not aligned. What are your top personal values?  The following are my top three personal values: Authenticity—“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken,” says Oscar Wilde.  From a lazy, practical point of view, I get better, faster results operating from the real me.  I also enjoy working and being with others that have the same value. Resourcefulness—Using the skills, experience, talent and relationships that I have, I can find the solution or the answer to whatever I need.  Reconfiguring and looking at things from different perspectives, what seemed impossible or unreachable are possible. Courage—Taking actions to move ahead in spite of fear, I even surprise myself with what I can accomplish.  I built a new website recently despite intimidating technology.  So there.  Now I am learning the art of webinars and teleseminars.  When I launch my new program, I will invite you to participate. As the end of the year approaches and you take stock of what you have accomplished and what targets you missed, it is an opportune time to revisit what you value most.  Express the values that are true for you without trying to measure up to the expectations others.  Choose what is true for you.  Living to please someone else is exhausting. Would your life be different, if you lived your values?  What kind of behavior would your friends, family, colleagues and customers experience, when you operate from your core values?  If your business operates from its core values, would your business do things differently? Use your personal and corporate values as a guide to make value based choices.  Values are an inside job.  They are a big deal and they matter. © 2011 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved

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Ann Elliott

Ann Elliott, founder of The Berkana Company, excels at leadership strategy

An expert at helping business leaders enjoy more profits and improved productivity with less stress, she blends fun and excitement with executive coaching and training to yield results for her clients.

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