Values. Culture. We all talk about them but how many of us really recognise them as fundamental to a business’s success and navigating troubled waters? They are not the same thing, and they are much more than buzzwords.
Values – your guiding beacons
If you can’t honestly define your business values, you’re going to be in trouble when it comes to managing any crisis or communications issue – big or small. This is because values are the deeply held principles that will guide your decisions. Values need to be meaningful and not just something that can be recited when asked. For example, a company’s core guiding value could be ‘make mum proud’. This is a great example because whilst it ultimately links to integrity, it’s memorable, relatable, and likely to be a clear frame of reference for anyone.
You must live your values every single day. Being true to your values builds capital in your teams, in your supplier relationships, in your customers – and you need all of them when things go pear shaped. You can’t start building those relationships when things are rocky – you need them to be sound so that when things do get rocky, you’ve got support and breathing space and people you can turn to for ideas and solutions.
Culture – open to shaping
This leads us to culture – which is important no matter how big or small your team is. Your culture is formed by many factors that can change or be changed, including your people.
Location, work practices and many other things can also shape your culture which is why there is often a different ‘vibe’ from one office to the next, or within a marketing team compared to a finance team. Ultimately, though, culture develops organically on the back of strong, clearly defined company values.
Culture is also why you need to be recruiting… All. The. Time. Even if your team is small. That doesn’t mean you’re constantly hiring but you should be on the lookout for people who can bring matching values to your team and build relationships with them. Consider not just your staff, but your suppliers, your business associates, and mentors. If your values match, you will create an exciting magnetic culture that will yield great benefits.
So, what’s the difference?
People often confuse the two, but there is one big difference. One can be shaped, and one is very difficult to change. I like to think of it like a tree. Your values are the roots, they’re the part planted in the ground, that underpin the tree, are solid and difficult to move. The culture is the part that can change, can flourish in the good times, and need to weather the bad times.
If you can get the values right, the culture you want will follow.
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