Try not to be a man of success but rather try to be a man of value. -Albert Einstein
The above statement, from Albert Einstein reiterates the significance of “values” that hold huge relevance and make immense business sense in a universal context, especially in today’s age of Lehman Brothers, ENRONs, Worldcoms and Satyams.
Every organization’s main objective is to be successful and to make sustainable profit. But to be successful and make sustained profits there are always two ways – ethical or unethical, shortcut or long and challenging. Unfortunately, the very reason of being in business, which is to make sustained profit, becomes a reason for extinction for companies who take unethical means to achieve the same. Their way of working obviously doesn’t reflect the saying, “Walk the talk”.
Let’s take an example of two companies. First company has values like delighting customers, deliver on commitments, develop people and depend on each other. The second company has values like respect, communication, integrity and excellence. From the face of it, both companies should be successful, as their values show a lot of positivism & promise. Can you identify the companies from the values mentioned? The first one is more than 100 years old, highly successful and popular electronics leader Philips and the second one was one of the world’s largest power generation company Enron that has now vanished from the scene.
What do you think is the key differentiator between both the companies, irrespective of having strong & right set of values? You are right if you know that the differentiator between both is their commitment towards living it up to their values – To Walk the Talk. Philips’ success lies in making its values an inevitable part of its way of working. This backed up with strong commitment towards demonstrating values oriented behavior at the work place, built sustainable positive corporate image and won their customer’s trust. So, values are basic beliefs at the heart of any company. In conjunction with a company’s strategy, values guide it in its actions and decisions. They are like rudder on a boat, keeping it heading in the right direction. Values are the DNA and Soul of a company.
What do these values mean for an employee? Values are “house rules” everybody applies to everyday working life. It guides employees’ attitude & way of working like “The way we do, what we do, how we interact with each other, inside & outside the company” is all guided by the intrinsic values. It is used as a point of reference to check employees’ actions & behaviors starting at the ground level.
How do hollow values impact business?
Values that are not followed properly can create cynical & dispirited employees, alienate customers, undermine managerial credibility, spoil a company’s reputation, and eliminate ethical practices to result in complete disaster. Values lose their meaning if not nurtured & internalized within the organization culture.
The power of values for an organization is aptly reflected in the below advantages:
- Conscience Keeper:Values define what is and isn't acceptable as they become your organization's code of behavior and making decisions without a code of conduct, especially in volatile times, is much more difficult and risky.
- Talent Management: All employees need to know who and what they are. Talented people always look for a ‘Values fit’ in their employer. With that missing, they won't be able to give the organization their best and will ultimately leave.
- Walk the Talk: Values, only when deployed & lived, become visible. Demonstrated behaviour at the top is accordingly followed passionately by all the people across all levels in the organization. The top management & Sr. Manager establish their credibility in the eyes of common employees by practicing, values oriented behavior.
- Sustain Profitabilty & Growth: Values support organizations’ belief of earning profit, not from short-cut means, but through ethical ways. Even during highly adverse business environment, value-oriented organizations survive, as the customers remain loyal and help keep a high esteem.
- Employer Branding: Organizations practicing & living up to their values have a reliable market value & a good image for its stakeholders.
- Winning Organisation: Values are the soul of any company. Once these are owned by all employees they become shared values, which nurture trust amongst people and help integrate the organization. Values create positive culture and make winning organizations.
- Management by Values: Organizations that drive management by values are role models in their business, with the leaders to the ground level people, everybody demonstrating behavior that reflects organizational values. It also promotes ethical practices.
For a sustainable growth and success in the competitive corporate world, managing by values is a timeless virtue and one that differentiates a real competence. It will always be relevant irrespective of an upward or downward turn in a business.
One should always give preference to ‘Values’ competency over all other functional & leadership competencies for any role, as this competency is inherited by an individual from his/her parents after birth, from friends and peers in school and from seniors and role models in the further growth period.
“The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become.”