Do your firm’s values matter?

5 Minutes

Are Values a passing marketing fad or the key to your firm's success?

A client wanders into your office and sees 3 accountants working at their desks.

He asks them all the same question: “What are you working on?”
And gets 3 very different answers:

Keith tells him he’s “just finishing off some accounts.”
Jake says, “management accounts to help (insert client name) review the last quarter.”
Jan says, “helping (insert client name) to decide if they’re ready to invest in a new warehouse.”

They are all doing the same work, but that work has a different meaning to them all.

Keith has a job.
Jake a career.
But Jan has a calling, a purpose.

Why emotional connection is vital

Some team members go through the motions. They get on with the work but are disconnected from it.

Jan is interested and invested in the client. She sees the importance of her work and how it influences a far greater outcome.

Your clients would rather work with and talk to Jan because she’s interested in them. That’s what drives her focus and curiosity.

Jan might lack Keith’s technical knowledge or experience, but she’s a far more valuable member of your team. You can train Jan and help her grow.

But if Keith’s lost interest, there’s little you can do.

How can you attract more Jans and fewer Keiths?

The starting point is usually the same: Put yourself in Jan’s shoes.

Jan’s enthusiasm radiates. She shines in interviews and has no shortage of offers. If you were Jan, what would you be looking for in an employer? What’s most important for her: salary, perks, nice offices or an environment that matches her purpose and values and helps her grow?

(A WeSpire study found that Gen Z “is the first generation to put purpose above salary. They read mission statements and values ​​documents to choose where they work and expect their employers’ values ​​to align with theirs.)

Are purpose-driven businesses more successful?

There are countless examples of over-achieving organisations that dig deep to unearth a purpose beyond making money. That purpose drives their strategy, the work they do, the clients they work with and of course, the team they attract.

Their values are derived from their purpose and they’re happy, well content, to make sacrifices if clients or team members don’t uphold them.

(Over the previous 12 years, brands with a high sense of purpose have seen their brand valuation rise 175%, compared to an 86% median growth rate for brands with a low sense of purpose and a 70% growth rate for brands without purpose, according to Kantar Consulting’s Purpose 2020 report.)

So why do firms identify such weak values?

There’s no single answer to that. Sure, some firms don’t put much effort in and grab whatever they feel sounds impressive.

Others see it as a marketing exercise. So inevitably the results are insincere.

But sadly I know a lot of forms who have taken the exercise seriously and dedicated substantial time and resources.

Often all the firm’s employees have been involved. Or maybe working groups set up to build a shortlist of Values for discussion.

The problem is Values have been looked at in isolation and not by the firm’s leaders. The result often looks like the example below.

How to find your firm's values

Firstly, if you are going to identify and proclaim your firm’s values understand the commitment it takes and the importance of living by them. If you are just going through the motions it will do you more harm than good.

Secondly, start the process by exploring and agreeing on the deeper purpose your firm is committing to. This is a drawn-out exercise best conducted with the guidance of external, impartial experts.

Finally and crucially lead by example, live and breathe your values, demonstrate their importance, constantly repeat and restate them and make them central to all your team’s behaviour.