Don’t Put Your Company Values on the Wall or a Mouse Mat – Actively Live Them Everyday

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Last week I attended the Family Business Australia National Conference; the conference theme was creating a sustainable family business through an entrepreneurial approach and a culture of innovation. Why was this conference of interest? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 50% of Australia’s workforce are employed by family businesses.

Almost all of the guest speakers and panel members cited the importance of culture and the critical role that core Values play in laying the foundation of culture in any organisation be it a family, private, or publically owned entity.

Further conference presenters reinforced three key points about core Values:

  • Clear core values are one of the greatest strengths leaders can instil into any business.
  • This next generation will want to understand the core Values which organisations use to guide behaviour and make decisions. Supporting this is a study completed by Kin & Co[1] that found 78% of 18 to 24 year old would be motivated and committed to their work if they felt their employer values are making a positive impact on society. Further, this group said they want to be able to reflect their personal values and ethics in their job.
  • A key measure of how much emphasis an organisation places on values is the extent to which the core Values are actively lived. Framing them and putting them on walls, mouse mats or screen savers means nothing to this next generation.

Core Values are often called the “deal makers” and the “deal breakers”. Experts in the field suggest that when we truly know our core values and we allow just one to be compromised our personal and organisational behaviour will be very different.

Core Values are very powerful in guiding behaviour of not just leaders but every person in a company; yet they are often hard to define because they do not change in response to fads or trends, shift in response to circumstances, or are compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.

The test for whether a Value is core is: would you hold true to this value even if it meant it would competitively disadvantage or penalise you personally or your organisation? If you can’t honestly answer YES, then the value is not core.

Another factor that has to be taken into account today around core Values is that people working in organisations are becoming more diverse. In order to attract, motivate, and retain the best talent – irrespective of the type of business – owners and leaders must pay attention to employees’ cultural differences and provide behavioural guidance through clearly defined core values that will serve as a behavioural guide.

Having Values framed on a wall or in annual report is of little benefit, actively living Values adds both dimension and benefit to the way we conduct business and live our lives each day.

Viventé Australia enables leaders and managers to create the conditions that allow their people to do their best work every day thus creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its outcomes



[1] HR Magazine: Katie Jacobs; The importance of work with purpose with Gen Y; February 2016