Why every business owner should write down their values

6th September 2019


Do you think people should turn up to work on time?

How much time do you think someone should struggle with a work problem before asking for help?

If someone is sick, should they suck it up and come to work?  Or stay home so everyone else doesn’t get sick?

My guess is you have immediate answers to these questions. And some of them would be the same as almost anyone else. Like ‘should you turn up on time?’ 

Most people would say ‘yes’ right? 

Well... mostly. But what if you don’t have set hours, or if your job requires inspiration rather than perspiration?

The fact is every workplace is different. 

And, although there are some common themes in all workplaces (I’ve never heard of a workplace that demands poor performance;-) there is huge variety in HOW people are expected to do their work. 

I’ve seen companies where failing to meet a deadline was the same as slapping the bosses kid…

And another where the only thing deadlines were known for was the sound they made as they went ‘whooshing’ by… (thanks Douglas Adams for that one)

What’s the point?  Everyone has different standards.  

The standards and ideas and ways of working that are in your head are not the same as other people’s.

These are your Values when it comes to work.  They are just beliefs and they are not necessarily ‘right’ but they are beliefs that you think are really important.  They are ‘right’ for you.

If you’re lucky, when you hire people you get people with similar values to you.  But often, people are not even aware of their own values and when you ‘just don’t click’ with someone else, it’s often because there are differences in your values.

Using one of the examples above, if an employee holds a value that ‘flexibility and freedom in work hours are normal and expected’, and a boss thinks ‘turning up late is a sign of disrespect’, there are going to be problems right?

If you’re a small business owner, it’s essential to have people on your team who have similar values to you so that you don’t constantly have performance discussions.  But more than that, you want to know that everyone on your team is going to go about their work in a way you would approve of.

That’s why it’s important to articulate your values.  Not just to yourself, but to everyone in your employ.

The fact is you act out your values every day through your words and actions, but often small business owners haven’t taken the time to sit down and think about how they would like people to behave in their workplace, and clearly spelled that out for anyone they employ.

When you write out and explain your values to your team a few things happen: 

First, you give them a chance to see if they even want to work for you!  

Second, you give them a ‘framework’ in which to operate.  Your values guide your decisions and if you do a good job of articulating what your values are, it makes it easier for employees to act in a way that you would approve of, especially when you’re not around.

The important thing is, you should do this as soon as you start a business.  Because then your values quickly become ‘the way things are done around here’ and that creates your culture.

As your business grows, you don’t have to be everywhere all the time telling people how things should be done, because they all act the way you would, they act according to ‘the values’ (which are your values)

In the next blog post I'll talk about how to write good values that people actually remember and can get excited about.

Here’s a hint: writing ‘values’ is not listing words like:  Integrity, Honesty, Hard Work.......oh sorry, I fell asleep just writing that....

Brett Baker :)

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