Company values go beyond marketing, they are a fundamental part of any organisation’s DNA. Establishing clear values is key for any organisation regardless of size – it is instrumental in securing internal buy in and getting your whole team to live and breathe your brand.

So why do they matter when it comes to marketing? In order to develop meaningful connections with your customers and to ensure your messaging is consistent, it is essential to define what you value as a brand. Loyal custom comes from an alignment of values so it’s important you know what your organisation’s values are so you can communicate them to customers and that goes for the rest of your team too. Think of values as an extra level of branding, but on the inside – your team’s view of your organisation is just important as your customer’s.

If your organisation already has its values defined, check them against the below criteria:

  • Are the values important to your organisation and employees?
  • Can they be used to guide people when making a decision?
  • Do they embody the parts of the organisation the team are most proud of?
  • Are they things you will still believe in years to come?
  • Are they being enacted on a daily basis by the people within your organisation?

If the answer is no to just one of these questions, you run the risk of devaluing all of the work you’ve put into developing your integrated marketing and communications strategy. But never fear, as a marketer you have the power to act.

Your skillset means you’re perfectly placed to deliver a successful values workshop to help your team collaboratively build authentic and honest values.

Designing your workshop

A successful values workshop requires a little forward thinking and organisation. Facilitating the workshop can be a big job as you'll need govern your whole team to encourage an open and honest discussion.

If you work within a large organisation, we’d recommend running the workshop with no more than 30 people. However, to encourage true collaboration, it is important to consider every employees’ view. In order to do this, you should develop a survey to share ahead of the workshop that asks questions like:

  • What do you personally value?
  • How should we interact and deliver services/products to our customers? What values should shape this interaction?
  • What values have helped us be successful this far?
  • What values do the most successful employees share?
  • What does your organisation stand for?
  • What character traits does your organisation embody?

Once you have shared the surveys, invite a representative sample of people to act as spokespeople for each department. Don’t just focus on senior management, invite people from all levels to get an authentic view of the company culture.

Advise attendees you’ll need around two hours of their time to deliver the workshop and bribe them with tea, coffee and biscuits if you need to. People can’t just be told what’s meaningful, it has to come from within which is why developing values without collaboration is ineffective.

What do you need to conduct a values workshop?

  • A whiteboard
  • Pens
  • Your full team (or a sample of spokespeople from each department)
  • Around 2 hours of distraction free time
  • Post it notes – and lots of them!

Where to begin

Start with your purpose. Without knowing why your organisation exists (your purpose), it’s impossible to define how (your values) you will achieve it.

Step 1: Get everything out in the open

Prior to the workshop, list out all of the values that came from the survey you sent out and write them up on a whiteboard. Be sure to eliminate any duplicates but don’t omit anything that could be interpreted as its own point. If you are running a smaller workshop you can skip this step and ask attendees to write down any values that come to mind when you ask the prompt questions above. Use post it notes to easily organise and group similar values together.

Step 2: Rank in order of importance

Once you’ve listed out all potential values, ask attendees to pull out 10 that they believe represent the company culture and rank them in order of importance.

Attribute a points scale (10 for each person’s most important value and 1 for the least) to collectively rank them in order of importance. Draw a score chart on the whiteboard and ask each person to write each value on a post it to place in the relevant section so you can once again group and eliminate where necessary.

Step 3: Discuss, discuss, discuss

Talk through the top 10 values in detail, this is a lengthy step but not one to be missed. Listen to people’s apprehensions and beliefs to collaboratively agree on what’s important. You may need to separate attendees into focus groups here, but make sure you take the time to listen to everyone’s thoughts.

You may choose 3 values, you may stick with all 10, just make sure that each one represents the strengths of your organisation and speaks to your audience. It’s better to have a few authentic values that your team live by than a list of 10 that nobody can remember.

Step 4: Refine your wording

At this stage you may choose to end the workshop so you can spend time refining the wording. The way your values are articulated is just as important as the values themselves. Your values should empower the team rather than condemn them so use positive language always.

Step 5: Feedback and revisions

Once you have developed your initial draft, share your values with the team. Ask them to consider the values in terms of the earlier questions:

  • Are the values important to the organisation and yourself as an employee?
  • Can they be used to guide you when making a decision?
  • Do they embody the parts of the organisation you are most proud of?
  • Are the values things you will still believe in years to come?
  • Are they being enacted on a daily basis by yourself and your colleagues?

Make amendments based on the feedback you receive and share the updated drafts with stakeholders. Keep going until you've developed a final draft the team are happy with.

Step 6: Roll out your values

Share the values with your wider team and explain the importance. To encourage buy in, explain what makes each value true to your organisation. Share an example of where your values have been enacted upon in the past and how incorporating this behaviour will help propel your organisation forward.

Step 7: Practice what you preach

Build a culture where your employees live and breathe your values. Create incentives where employees are asked to recognise when their colleagues have put values into practice. Use them in employee reviews and promotion plans to ensure they are more than just empty words and are enacted upon every day. Put them at the forefront of your recruitment process to attract and hire new team members who fit into your company culture.

Creating a value driven culture can increase employee satisfaction and boost your brand both internally and externally, it is not an exercise to overlook when developing your marketing strategy. Take a look at our programme to find out how we can support you in building an integrated marketing and communications strategy with values at its core.

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