Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Nov 2, 2016

9 Ways to Know a Company is Living Its Values

9 Ways to Know a Company is Living Its Values

It’s not hard to identify companies that have violated their values. They’re in the news, and not for good reasons. Just a few examples: Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Toshiba, and Deutsche Bank.

What about the many companies that are not receiving negative media attention? How do we know they are not a problem waiting to be exposed?

We live in a time where confidence in business leaders is at an all time low. It might appear that no company can be trusted to live by their values.

Yet, the truth is there are many good companies doing good work. The leaders, managers, and employees at many businesses are living out their values every day. These companies will likely never be in the news for violating their values. Instead, they quietly go about their business, adding value to customers, providing a safe and enjoyable work environment for employees, and generating reasonable returns for shareholders.

Is there a way to identify such companies?

Indeed, there are various ways to determine if a company is living its values.

Signs a Company is Living by Its Values

green-checkmark-in-a-circleHere are nine ways to know if a company is living by its values.

  1. All employees can state all of the values – by heart. They can also explain what each value means for the company, in practical ways. [Hint: this means there are only a few values, making it easy to remember]
  2. The values are often referenced and discussed. Values are not meant to just hang on the wall. They need to be discussed in the hall. (And in meetings, and with suppliers, and even with customers). As decisions are being considered, everyone is checking to see if they are aligned with the values.
  3. Decisions can be easily questioned by anyone. Protecting the integrity and future of the company is in the best interest of all employees. Also, when a decision is being questioned, the focus is on the topic, issue, or rationale, not the person (or people) who made it.
  4. Employees hold each other accountable for their behavior. Monitoring employee behavior is not the sole responsibility of the leaders. Peer-to-peer accountability is the best way to reinforce values.
  5. There are no lawsuits for violating the values. The leaders are also not being called before a congressional committee regarding questionable decisions or policies.
  6. Values are applied to everyone, including senior leaders. No one is exempt from having the values apply to them. In fact, a great testimony that values matter is when a senior leader (including the CEO) is openly reprimanded for violating a stated value.
  7. Values are part of employee reviews. One of the best ways to make values part of daily thinking and work habits is for employees to expect regular assessments of how their decisions and behaviors align with the company’s values.
  8. Reward & recognition are aligned with values. The fact there is a defined reward & recognition program is the first good sign. The second is when the program rewards and/or recognizes decisions and behaviors aligned with stated values.
  9. There’s a high regard for the integrity of the company (even if it’s not a stated value). When customers, employees, suppliers, and even the community say good things about a company, it’s a positive sign the company is living its values. Positive word-of-mouth is how great brands are built.

Ideally, a values-driven company is demonstrating all nine of these. But evidence of even a few of these signs is a good indication the company is trying to live by its values.

Simple put, if values are treated with high regard, the company can be too.


What are other ways to know a company is living its values?