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The value of values
24 Mar 2016
Guilty pleasure alert. Last week, while in desperation for some reading material during a tube journey I picked up a ‘freemium’ magazine on the seat beside me.
I can’t for that reason back up the following statement with a Harvard style reference.
But I read an interesting article in said publication, which explained that psychologists have come to the conclusion that during an individual’s late 20s and early 30s, their brains reach full formation meaning that this is when they finally enjoy full clarity on what they want from their lives.
This completely made sense to me as I found that when I hit 30 I began to look closer at my own life, where I was going and what I wanted to do. It kept coming back to one thing for me. Values.
I think values, at least in the business world, have become something of a clichéd subject, but I believe that’s remiss. Values are the things that define us all, whether we even realise that’s the case, and it was important to me to understand my own values to make sense of the opportunities and challenges I was facing with my career.
My values are time (I’m a thinker and often need some space to process ideas and get everything straight in my head and get through the things I need to, within my own boundaries); flexibility (I support the idea of a fully flexible workforce, where people are trusted to work from home, in an office, at a coffee shop or in the bath. I believe clock watchers and presenteeism in an office are damaging and I believe people should always be recruited who can be trusted to deliver exceptional projects at a time that suits them); growth (I love creating projects from scratch, building them up and watching them develop. I want to be constantly learning new things as well) and; achievement (I’m results driven and I know what good looks like; I can’t dedicate myself to a company or a project if it is, in my view, ‘bad’).
For me, joining Humm Media made complete sense because it’s an organisation that’s so open and honest about its values. They are: uncomplicated, energetic, effective and collaborative.
We keep things simple, we are enthusiastic and fun to work with, we achieve results and we work with our clients and partners – not for them.
But here’s the vital lynchpin of our view: as a values driven business we believe we should and can only work with companies that share our values. And that’s the challenge for small businesses - especially when the dreaded ‘cash flow’ conversations come into play.
For me it’s simple, we include our values on our (simple and uncomplicated two page) proposals to clients and we talk to them about values at meetings. If they share our ethos it’s the start of a great partnership. If they don’t, we know the relationship will be rocky and can choose whether to progress the conversation or not.
I don’t want to go so far to say that we ‘sell’ our business to prospects based on our values, but it’s at the heart of every conversation we have because it’s the core of our proposition.
Tesco has 10 values. I only know this because I found them this morning on its corporate website, while reading around the news that the company has just announced an operating loss of £6.4 billion…
Its values are grouped into three areas: how it treats its customers, how it treats its people and using its scale for good.
Sainsbury’s has five values – which are completely connected to its growth plan. I know this because there was a gigantic mural around values in a Sainsbury’s supermarket I popped into on Monday to grab a sandwich.
They are: best for food and health, sourcing with integrity, respect for our environment, making a positive difference to our communities, being a great place to work.
Off the top of my head, I have no idea how successful Sainsbury’s is as a business and I’m not going to look that one up, because I can’t prove to you in a 600 word blog they are more profitable than Tesco because of their values, but I can tell you that I walked out of that store on Monday feeling really good that their values were shown for all to see and would be back to shop again.
My advice: know and understand your business’ values, live them and share them with anyone who will listen. Whether you work in a large or small company, your values are the key to your growth as a person and as a business.