In the strategic planning work we do at Starboard Leadership Consulting, it is not unusual for us to engage in discussions about organizational values. While the mission succinctly tells people who you are and why you are in business, value statements describe what you care about, how you treat people, and what you value most.
Strong value statements will stand-up to this test: “Would we keep doing this even if we were somehow penalized for doing so?” A value like, “We will treat our customers and each other with the utmost dignity in all of our interactions” probably meets that test for most. You would likely choose to go out of business rather than knowingly treat people poorly.
A discussion about organizational values is a great thing to do with your staff (and your board, if you are running a nonprofit). You’ll find out what really matters to people and how they want to be treated, and you’ll learn a lot in the process. Along the way, you’ll create a document you can review from time to time or even print-up to accompany your mission.
We include our business values on the Starboard Leadership Consulting web site. However, how you print them up or where you display them is not all that important. There is no requirement to have a list of value statements, and it is unlikely anyone will ever ask you for them. What is important is that you have the discussion in the first place.
Ideally, the values become interwoven with everything you do. So, if one of your values is treating everyone with dignity, take the time to review your employment practices, your customer relations, and your other procedures to see if your practices live up to your values. Or ask your employees to review the statements and identify where, if any, your organization might be falling short. Making sure that your practices align with your values demonstrates your integrity and is time well spent.
There is an old saying that goes something like this: “Do the right thing and you’ll never do wrong.” Take the time to have a discussion about your organization’s shared values so you can make sure everyone agrees on what “right” is. Then figure out a way to keep those values alive.
For more thoughts on this topic or on strategic planning, visit www.starboardleadership.com to explore our Starboard Blog, or contact us at (207) 992-4400.