As I am doing the pre-work for creating new company values, it made me think that values don't address the challenges companies are facing today.
Most of the time, they are a one-word, meaningless, open-to-interpretation, vague, generic nonsense like Respect, Trust, Integrity, Excellence, Innovation, Honesty, or, my favourites, Inclusion and leadership.
The same values have been around for decades despite everything that has changed in businesses, including the behaviour that values aim to guide. My company had the same values for over three decades. Nine years ago, we added an extra "Guest Passion" because, after five decades of operating, we realised that hospitality is about that lol.
They also don't offer anything that would influence employees' behaviour within the context of corporate buzzwords like burnout, demotivation, well-being, etc. There is a complete disconnect between values and the challenges we are trying to solve today.
But my biggest problem is that they don't talk to the individuals and are pretty selfish regarding the message they spread. It is all about what you can do for the company (which is often beyond our control) and nothing about what employees can do for themselves.
Values like Innovation are never understood, or when someone brings an idea, they are dismissed. Many of the values fall victim to processes and people. My company had the value of integrity and "speak up", yet when illegal and unethical activities were reported, the management did nothing.
There is no point for values that employees have no control over or are ignored at convenience.
Instead, we should have values that employees have direct control over. Values must speak to the individuals, be specific, and help them shape their mindset, lives, performance, and company culture.
If I had a large company, I would use these values (Jordan Peterson's 12 + 12 Rules for Life) - see below - because these simple rules have changed the lives of millions of people. Don't we always preach that change is in the mindset, yet we willingly ignore it and try to influence people's actions by meaningless words?
People ignore company values because they don't talk to them. In addition to this, I would add:
Leadership is not about you, it is about your people.
This workplace must not make you or others unhappy, so behave accordingly.
Blaming others will get you nowhere here.
Your development and growth is your responsibility. We will support you.