Hopefully you work at one of the far-too-rare companies that has a values statement. Great! Now, take your copy and throw it in the trash. (Or, at the very least, put it at the very back of some tough-to-open file cabinet.) And while you're at it, take down that silly values statement poster from your wall that you have long been looking past and haven't really noticed in years.
Got 'em tossed out or stashed away? Terrific! Here's why…
If you and every other employee in your company can't tell me exactly what's in your values statement and tell me how the behavior in which you or they are currently engaged is or is not aligned with at least one of your company's values, there is either something terribly wrong with the way in which it is written or in how it has been implemented. If you need a 'cheat sheet' to remember your company's values or how best to assure that everyone's behavior is aligned with them, you've lost the game.
Make sure that your values statement only includes those priorities affecting everyone from the front lines all the way up through senior management. Then make sure that it is so well crafted and so absolutely clear that no employee will ever need to guess whether or not their behavior appropriately represents your company's values at any given moment. Then build some mention of those values and how to bring them to life into each of the everyday conversations you have with employees. That's the only way those values can really ultimately become a part of the basic fabric of your organization.
Writing and implementing a high-impact values statement usually sounds like a pretty simple task and yet doing it correctly may be one of the toughest things your company will ever undertake. Is it worth the time and trouble to do it right, though? Absolutely! Where else can you find a single, simple document that can successfully drive management, leadership, customer-service, and branding, all in the same stroke?
Now, can you do all that without having a copy of your values statement in front of you? I hope so! If you can't, it's time for you and your company to seriously roll up your sleeves and look at the content and style of your values statement as well as it's implementation. Once it actually does what it's supposed to – and does it well – you can certainly dig your old copy back out of the trash. It's unlikely to matter that it'll be a bit crumpled and stained at that point – you won't need to be reading it anyhow.