Paul’s perspective – Set your corporate values: A rewarding experience for every business

March 15, 2017

Set your corporate values: A rewarding experience for every business

A former client of mine, Julia Langkraehr, is a recognised and highly successful entrepreneur. I had the pleasure of advising her on the sale of her business almost fifteen years ago and was aware that she had launched a very successful post-exit career advising management teams of SMEs.  Julia helped us, some months back set our Corporate Values.  It was part of a more extensive work programme that she was working with us on.

Julia had, for some while, been telling me about the importance of establishing Corporate Values. Being honest, it was something I had always seen as ‘American MBA speak’.  I had certainly dismissed the value that any such exercise would add to our team here at Bluebox and as part of the preparatory work I did no more than Google the corporate values of John Lewis, PwC and McKinsey to see what their strategy people were saying.  I, in my capacity as CEO, would impress the team with some good suggestions …  or so I thought.

Our ‘value setting’ session had been planned and I thought that about an hour should do the trick. 30 minutes to agree the values and 30 minutes to document them.  I was wrong.  Very wrong.

I shan’t say how we did it, but four hours after the session started, our senior team was still deliberating the appropriate Corporate Values for Bluebox. The way we went about selecting our Values was rigorous, but it ensured that the ultimate Values we chose reflected the sincere thoughts of those at the heart of our team.

Our Values say how we want to serve our clients and how we want to recruit staff.  How we differentiate ourselves and how what practices we want to avoid.  It is amazing that the Values we have set permeate almost every aspect of the way we run the business from both an internal and an external perspective.  Setting Corporate Values was a rewarding experience that I would highly recommend to others.

As a final part of the exercise, in my capacity as CEO, I had to deliver the ‘Values Speech’.  A speech lasting no more than 2 minutes that says to partners, the team, our clients and any other stakeholders who care to listen, what we are about as a business.  My Values Speech is set out below and I hope that it brings inspiration to others to do the same:

 

Bluebox Corporate Finance – Our Corporate Values

Value 1: Look Smart, Work Smart, Advise Smart.

 Smart means many things, but our first value is applied in three different contexts.

 Working smart, or, in other words ‘efficiently’, is critical to both our personal and business performance. We aim not to become busy fools, instead focusing on the things that matter.

 Looking smart does what it says on the tin. We operate in a people business.  We understand that first impressions count and being ‘turned out’ properly for both our clients and our colleagues sets the right standard.

 Advising smart is, of course, at the heart of our business. We offer the highest possible level of professional advice that sets us apart in the market from others that may, and often do, speak before they think.

 

Value 2: Honest and Reliable

 Honesty is a prerequisite for our business. We need to be straight with both clients and colleagues at all times and not be afraid of saying certain things, within reason, that they may not wish to hear.  Using emotional intelligence as to how to share difficult thoughts is key.

 Reliability is a given.  We are reliable for both internal and external facing situations and ensure that we do everything we can not to let our clients or colleagues down in this regard.

 

 Value 3: Personable, team players and fun

 We operate in a service industry and we need be personable.  We are easy to engage with as people, ensuring that no one is left feeling left out. Social skills are a must.

 Team play is a key ingredient to our success.  We all have different yet complimentary skills and harnessing the potential of our team is far more valuable than using the skills of any one player.  We make use of team resource and skills and have fun doing it.

 

Value 4: Ambitious with the Will to Win

 Ambition is at the heart our business and the people that operate within it.  We have an ambition to serve our clients and gain recognition for their successes. There will be ups and downs, but ambition is a constant throughout.

 A will to win is critical.  We do not want to finish second. Individually, and as a business, we aim to win and win big in all the tasks, big or small, that we undertake.

 

Setting Corporate Values has been a valuable exercise.  I would encourage others to do the same at a time where holding a steady ship, with Brexit negotiations and other challenges around the corner, is likely to be critical to business success.

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