To Be a VBO or Not to Be a VBO…
If put on the spot during a company all-hands, could you recite your company’s values? If you know them, do you believe they align with the culture and ecosystem of your company?
Human Resources Consultant, Susan M. Heathfield, said, “values are visible through the actions people take, not their talk. Values form the foundation for everything that happens in your workplace. If you are the founder of an organization, your values permeate the workplace.”
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) says that a values-based organization (VBO) is a living, breathing culture of shared core values among all employees.
Too many times the values spouted are pie-in-the-sky and the on the ground workforce is completely detached. The notion of being a values-based organization is something I never fully grasped until I joined a large, third generation family-held company serving as their Director of Talent Acquisition. The CEO and SVP of Human Resources worked tirelessly to define the core values of the company and then ensure they were threaded into all aspects of the organization. “Bleed blue” was pervasive throughout my former employer’s organization and was worn as an absolute badge of honor (the company’s tractor trailers are blue).
In preparing this blog post, I sat down (at my stand-up desk) and asked my own Chief People Officer, Brad Goldoor at Phenom People, what our values (pictured above) really mean and how he and Co-founders Mahe and Hari Bayireddy decided on them.
“To us, Phenom’s value-system is a living, breathing ecosystem that isn’t necessarily just about work…it’s about life! Will you work hard, do the right thing(s) and should you leave, do you leave better than when you got here?” said Goldoor.
“Effective organizations identify and develop a clear, concise, and shared meaning of values/beliefs, priorities, and direction so that everyone understands and can contribute,” said Susan Heathfield. “Once defined, values impact every aspect of your organization. You must support and nurture this impact or identifying values will have been a wasted exercise. People will feel fooled and misled unless they see the impact of the exercise within your organization.”
When looking to define company values, ask:
- What’s important to us?
- What brought us all together and continues to hold us together?
- What will help guide us when we are facing a difficult decision?
- What are the things you like about what we do at [your company] and how we do it?
- What parts of our company are we proud of?
Now that I’ve got you thinking about the “how” and the“what” of building a values-based organization, we need to see if and how they’re working. A few quick check-list questions can be:
- Can a new employee recite your company’s values?
- Does your company’s values distinguish you from your competitors?
- Can these values be applied outside of the company environment?
As we start to see one segment of today’s workforce head off into the sunset, companies are now presented with a powerful opportunity: The ability to revisit corporate values and ensure alignment with an incoming workforce.
What are some of the ways your organization works to ensure value-based alignment with new employees?