Corporate values and operations strategy: Four Things to Get Today Moving

Company values and operations objectives should go together.

The fact that corporate values and operations strategy are not thought of together, frequently, is one of the reasons that corporate values end up losing steam. It’s one of the reasons that Employee Engagement schemes bite the dust as described, quite nicely, here.

We’ve written in these pages on numerous occasions on the importance of ramping up your corporate values program, developing it, pushing it and sending it out.

But for lots of HR people, and for managers more generally, it doesn’t totally add up. Values may be what politicians talk about – but in the real world, no one thinks twice about them.

Let’s illustrate.

As I am writing this, I’m chatting with a friend who abhors corporations and corporate values. Her solution? She works for a music conservatory in a midwestern university.

She doesn’t work there because they gave her a pitch and promoted themselves as a values-centered organization. She chose to work for them because their values aligned with her own.

The problem for us is that she’s desirable. She has skills, smarts and works relentlessly. She adds value to the music school and the music school doesn’t conflict with her version of the world.

Now what about you?

Until you recognize the number of people you’re losing to these companies, non-profits and similar organizations, you’re not only going to lose employees, but customers too.

So, let’s look at four things that can be done to get your values into, and active in your operations strategy.


1) Rewrite Them.

This is a big deal. It should be a collective undertaking, or it’s utterly meaningless. Values statements written by Public Relations departments or Marketing Teams do more harm than good and have no place in today’s workplace.  You can even look at these 15 companies (not naming names) and see in a moment who needs to get on the ball and start re-writing.

On the contrary, getting a good understanding of your values is just a matter of surveying, nominating, considering and consolidating statements. That’s no more difficult than a survey, some analysis, another survey, some emails and some meetings.  Just do it.

It’s company wide, but that’s part of what makes it valuable.

Root out core corporate values that don’t jive with all your people, but be careful. Some of your people may not jive with your core corporate values.

2) Discuss Them.

There’s nothing more unproductive than a meeting, but a few meetings are in order. These are more mandatory than any other meeting your company will organize so make them good. They’re possibly a lot more productive too. You should see in a few quick meetings who lives up to your values, who aligns with them and who doesn’t.

You should also be prepared to explain why these values are important too. At some length. The people who resist are going to be obvious.

3) Build a Values-Centered Operation.

This is the one everyone thinks is the tough part. It really just means you’re going to be the very best music school you can be. Ok, so you’re an insurance company, or a TV station. Be the best one possible. I don’t really get the conflict. Hospitals are easy to see as values, but let’s say you’re a call center with clients in mortgage services, an evil cable-TV operator and a shipping company.

Do those clients create conflicts for you? For your people? Are their values incompatible? Probably not.

More often, your values are an actionable value-added that softens your clients’ image(s) or that actually allows you to fill in where they cannot. All of this should be fair-game for discussion in your meetings too, by the way. Now imagine if you fired a client because their values don’t match up with your own. It happens.

4) Corporate Values and Operations Strategy!

Maybe this one should be number 3 but in whatever order you do it, it means a lot if you change operations to align better with values. Every one of your people will know it. But it doesn’t need to be major departmental upheaval.

Tweaking for values should not play second fiddle to bulldozing for dollars.

Even small tweaks to correct worker-identified conflicts can make a tremendous difference in the value added you’re able to pass on to your customers. Beyond communications and messaging, let’s look at where some other people we worked with “tweaked for values.”

  1. We helped the call center mentioned above to better align their people by committing once and for all to work-life balance. Now callers to the call center hear not just about clients, but about how they work for the leading call center in the Pacific Northwest.
  2. Our hospitals now remind all of their staff; security, food services and facilities managers, that they’re helping to save lives too!
  3. We worked with a big insurance company to not only get their people into work on time but to incrementally increase their awareness of how their work contributes to the well-being and health of the company’s thousands of clients.

These are just the beginning. Let us know in the space below how your workplace is working to realign itself with what you all already believe.


Photo this page: Simple balance scales-02 © Wikimedia Commons by Lilly_M

Karin Jakovljevic

About the author

Karin Jakovljevic

Karin Jakovljevic is the head of marketing at Ximble, a powerful, cloud-based workforce management system, simplifying employee scheduling and time tracking for retailers, restaurants and small businesses.

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