Tips to keep your company values alive

You’re probably wondering what a values behaviour charter is, let alone whether you should implement it – and I’ll get there. But first, allow me to share a quick anecdote which prompted me to write this. My Tannie Sussie has an incredible awareness and knowledge of the amazing fynbos we have in Cape Town, and other fauna and flora. When chatting to my 5 year old twins the other day she said: “no girls, there is no such thing as weeds, people starting calling plants they don’t want in their garden weeds, what we call weeds have a function elsewhere, these plants are just in the wrong garden.”

I realised this was a perfect analogy to the role values play in the working world… so let me tell you why! 

Over the past few months we have had quite a few clients who worked with us on designing or redesigning their company values to create buy in and excitement around these values in their businesses. 

Something that I think is crucial for all founders and leaders to remember is just because someone doesn’t connect with or share the same values as you and the business doesn’t mean they are “weeds” or bad people, in the wrong. They are simply in the wrong garden. And what are we as leaders doing to support them to not feel treated like weeds and being dug out of the ground by their roots killing their existence?

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

My challenge to us as company owners and leaders is to take the approach of my aunt, carefully removing the weeds she doesn’t want and replanting them in an environment where she knows they will grow in soil that will work for them with the right amount of water that they need.

How can we treat team members, who probably need to leave and find a new company to work for due to values clash, to leave our businesses still feeling respected and human and with confidence to thrive in the next business where they are needed and wanted? Instead of them leaving your business feeling ill-treated, disrespected and made a joke of just because they didn’t buy into your values and should probably not grow in your garden.

So how does this apply in our own company? Part of our approach at Credo is to say that businesses should hire and fire by their values. We even follow the EOS people analyzer to see how each team member lives the company values. Our five core values are to:

  1. Provide exceptional value to each other and to our clients
  2. Deliver with high impact
  3. Get sh*t done
  4. Thirst for learning
  5. Be professional with a lot of laughter

Now on to the values behaviour charter – which is one of my favourite tools! It consists of your values, 5 behaviours per value, and 1 question per behaviour. I learnt this in a Scaling Up workshop once that follows the Gazelle’s methodology. 

We then use these questions in performance discussions, in hiring new team members and in giving feedback to each other.

These questions enable you to sus out whether the person (potential new member) showcases the behaviour you require that then speaks to the values.

We love creating these with our clients so they too can use their values, and keep them alive. Here are three tips to do this, using examples of what works for our team:

  • Monday WhatsApp: it’s time to use all those questions that were developed to showcase behaviour! Each Monday the whole team receives a WhatsApp that asks 1 of the questions. Everyone has until the Friday to answer that question. 
  • Quarterly we use the people analyser and rate each team member based on the 5 values we have, do they live the value, or not, or sometimes. Once we have the main picture we identify a plan to see how we can support people or understand what is going on for them for not showing up in this value. It gives good data for culture fit too, in case someone is consistently not living the values.
  • As we are busy with the client needs analysis onboarding, we also take time to understand their values and whether it’s a good fit with what we live and strive for. I want my clients to walk a journey with us and ensure that there is mutual respect for each other. 

My wish for all founder led businesses is that you find values and behaviours that are true to your business; that you allow people to grow in that business; and allow those who do not fit to leave with respect and a feeling of excitement to find their true fit. I hope this blog post will be the first step to help you do just that.

To find out more about keeping your company values alive, watch this short video with a step by step guild on how to build your own values behaviour charter.