Values should have a government health warning on them: THESE VALUES COULD DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH, or so says Andro Donovan, author of Motivate Yourself . She adds: Hours and hours of senior management time has been spent in boardrooms and off-sites contemplating the question: ‘What are our Company Values?’ Long lists of great-sounding words are compiled, only to be delegated to the Marketing Department for inclusion in a PR message.

‘82 per cent of leaders say that Culture is the biggest competitive advantage, yet 1 in 3 executives say they don’t understand their organization’s culture.’ – Deloittes

Most management teams find it hard even to remember their value statements once they have left the values session.

Values for the sake of it

It’s not surprising, since most company values are conjured up in seminars or workshops, away from the actual running of the business and with little regard for the real implications that values like ‘Open’ and ‘Honest’ have in terms of the organizational culture.

Why do so many companies spend so much time creating values statements only to ignore them or, worse, contradict them with everything they do? They feel duty bound to come up with them but it seems that many are simply going through the motions.

Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change – is a popular value and yet there are so many examples of businesses behaving with the exact opposite when it comes to dealing with customers. Watch out for the small print!

Values can bite

Values are not harmless, nice-to-have, touchy feely words, as some executives assume. On the contrary, they can be the most empowering mechanisms or they can be highly demotivating when the company does not deliver on their promise. Empty values statements create disenchanted employees, lose customers and undermine managerial credibility.

A value is something you believe in because it is the right thing to do. An end in itself. When a value is adopted only as a means to an end, it will be dropped when there is another way to achieve that end which does not require adherence to that value.

You cannot fake values

A set of values can’t just talk the talk; managers have to walk the walk. So make sure your company values underpin the behaviour you intend all employees to display, otherwise you are setting yourself up for a fall. People don’t shape their opinions about a company on marketing materials alone; they’ll be watching how you behave on social media, in the press, and even in your outlets, where the task of preserving your image falls to your employees.

So how can you make your values really count?

Values have to be part of the fabric of everything you do in the company; they have to be translated into the DNA of the company culture – ‘the way we do things around here’. If you do not measure their effectiveness you probably don’t care enough.

Managers have to live the values the company upholds as important. If in doubt about the efficacy of company values, you are better off not stating any. However by creating an environment where people enjoy their work and understand their company’s values and wider mission, your employees will become your company’s most valuable cheerleaders.

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Motivate Yourself – Get the life you want, find purpose and achieve fulfilment by Andro Donovan is out now, published by Capstone, priced £10.99 from Amazon. For further information go to