The 3 Biggest Mistakes Companies Make When Creating Company Values

The 3 Biggest Mistakes Companies Make When Creating Company Values

April 8, 2016 Leadership
The 3 Biggest Mistakes Companies Make When Creating Company Values -

Whether they are beautifully laminated and posted around the office or “unspoken” but clearly understood by a few key people, most businesses have a set of company values. I also find that most business leaders understand the importance of having company values – a guiding set of behaviours that define the desired culture and provide a framework for communicating and holding people accountable for “how we do things around here”.

Unfortunately, despite all good intentions, most company values don’t meet the critical criteria required to make them worth much more than the paper they are written on. The three biggest mistakes I see companies making when creating a set of values are:

Mistake #1 – They ask their staff what they should be!

What’s wrong with this you ask? Don’t all good HR initiatives require a collaborative approach during the design phase?

Effective company values must be strategically aligned to where your business is going and most importantly reflect how you want to be perceived by your key business stakeholders. This may include your customers, suppliers, business partners and staff.

Simply asking your staff what they think is important is not enough! Ask yourself two important questions:

“How do we want to be perceived by our stakeholder groups in the external market?”

“Will being perceived this way provide us with a point of competitive differentiation?”

Mistake #2 – They are not commonly understood!

Having catchy phrases posted around the office is a good start however after a short while your staff will see through the “art work”.

The critical mistake made by businesses is that the their values are not underpinned by a meaningful set of behaviours that everyone can relate to.

The test here is to ask your staff across the business what each of your values means to them. “Integrity” for your Head of Sales is likely to look very different on the job to “Integrity” for your Fork Lift Driver.  The former may interpret this as “being honest and trustworthy” whereas the later may interpret this as “showing up to work on time”.

To be most effective, values should be underpinned by a set of commonly understood behaviours. To take this to the next level, these behaviours should be measurable which brings us to mistake #3.

Mistake #3 – People are not held accountable!

This is where it all falls over for businesses. Having a set of company values with commonly understood and measurable behaviours is critical however unless there are clear and consistent processes in place for measuring performance and holding people accountable for their behaviours it is all a waste of time!

So how is this done most effectively?

  1. Embed your company values and behaviours in the Success Profiles (a job description that describes what “great” performance looks like)
  2. Embed your company values and behaviours into your performance review process – ensuring that examples of how these have been demonstrated are discussed on a regular basis
  3. Embed your company values in your recognition program – talking about the great behaviours across the business and how these impact your key stakeholders is a powerful reminder and reinforcement.

Done well, your company values will transform your business allowing you to differentiate yourself in the market, attract great people and build a high performance culture around accountability.

For more information or help, contact Talent Code on 1300 559585 or

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