Values - how to connect with the right customers

It was a great job. I got to do many of the things I really like doing, on the creative and technical side. However, something wasn’t right. It wasn’t until long after I’d moved on that I discovered why I didn’t click with what, on paper, was a very good job.

The reason? My values weren’t aligned with that of my employer’s. I won’t go into details, but when you work for someone whose business practices do not align with your belief system, ultimately you will not remain satisfied and productive in the role.

How often does this happen? Most of us have experienced this at some point in our career, and even hired someone whose values don’t match our business values.  Something just doesn’t feel right.

The more you can understand your own values, the better you will be able to find customers, employees, and partners who align with you.  This unity makes a stronger fit and ultimately creates lasting relationships.

How do you go about identifying your values?

In our Clarity workshops we use a pack of values cards. Through two exercises we encourage participants to choose the ones –initially 15– that they connect with most, and then reduce the number down to between 5 to 7.

There is no set number of core values you should have, but often what happens when choosing 15, is that there are a few which are very similar so you can remove these.

It can be baffling at first when faced with 50 or so different words, to choose just 5 or so which sum up your core values. If you have problems choosing at this stage, we suggest removing the values that don’t immediately chime with you instead. Some people find this a much easier approach.

Once you’ve chosen your values, give them time to percolate in your mind for several days or weeks. There’s nothing wrong with changing them, adding some new values you missed the first time round or removing ones you don’t think are relevant after all.

Getting started with values

Here’s a list of 50 values we use. These are not the only words you can use, and in fact you don’t have to just use single words. Some companies use phrases for their core values.

These words are just a guide to get you started. It often helps to have a dictionary to hand, to make sure you’re picking the precise values that connect with you.

Adventure

Diversity

Humility

Reliability

Authenticity

Empathy

Humour

Resilience

Challenge

Encouragement

Independence

Respect

Clarity

Equality

Innovation

Responsibility

Collaboration

Equipping

Inspiration

Security

Commitment

Ethical

Integrity

Sharing

Community

Excellence

Knowledge

Simplicity

Compassion

Fairness

Leadership

Sincerity

Connection

Family

Loyalty

Spirituality

Creativity

Freedom

Natural

Tenacity

Curiosity

Growth

Openness

Traditionalism

Dedication

Helping people

Originality

Discovery

Honesty

Quality

What does a value set look like?

Imagine a company that published the salaries of all their staff and the formula for how they worked out each salary. You would say that a core value of said company would be transparency. You’d be right, and this is the case with a company I admire, Buffer.

You may have used their social media tool to post tweets and posts to Facebook and LinkedIn, but their value set defines the company and is refreshing to see, setting them apart from the competition. They are a strong example of how values can direct a growing company.

As a regular reader of the buffer blog –which I must say is one of the best in the industry– and a daily user of their products, it doesn’t take long to see these values in action. By now you probably want to see a list of their values, don’t you? Here goes:

  1. Choose positivity
  2. Default to transparency
  3. Focus on self-improvement
  4. Be a no-ego doer
  5. Listen first, then listen more
  6. Have a bias toward clarity
  7. Make time to reflect
  8. Live smarter, not harder
  9. Show gratitude
  10. Do the right thing

You can see they use phrases rather than single words. As long as it communicates clearly what you are, that’s fine.

It’s also worth noting from Buffer –and I totally agree with them– that values are a work in progress. They can change, especially in a growing organisation.  

RMLalchan’s core values

So, what about our core values at RMLalchan? I couldn’t end this post without sharing ours: 

Clarity Simplicity and clarity are the way forward. Let's get rid of the unnecessarily complicated
Authenticity We speak from who we are, not from someone we're not
Empowerment We love to empower people to do things they couldn't before
Collaboration Silos are so last year. We value collaboration as a key driver for success
Curiosity Never stop learning. Our healthy curiosity drives us to discover more

These, just like any, are a work in progress. I'd love to know what you think.

What are your core values?

Remember, your values are your belief system in action, informing how you do what you do. There will be people who just don’t connect with your values. This is fine. Knowing and communicating your values is as much about allowing people to not choose you as it is about helping them choose you. 

So now you’ve seen some examples and a method for working out your values, feel free to share yours in the comments. I’d love to know what they are and how you use them.

If you want some help to define your values, they are a core module within our Clarity Programme. Sign up for a Clarity Assessment.
Don’t commission a logo or website before you have Clarity.