How to Write a Company Values Statement

Dr. Chris Bauer outlines a strategy that involves patience and inclusiveness.

Posted by Dawn Lomer in Ethics, Ethics & Compliance on June 17th, 2011

Leading ethics consultant, trainer, author and psychologist Dr. Chris Bauer doesn’t take company values statements, or the process of developing them, lightly. So, when asked how to develop a winning values statement in a few steps, Dr. Bauer starts with some of the things that people often don’t get right.

But before you begin writing your value statement, you need to understand what it’s supposed to do and the reasons for having it.

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What is a Values Statement

A values statement, or core value statement, explains a company’s top priorities and beliefs. Its purpose is to remind employees and the general public what the company stands for, its ethical philosophy and its culture.

A company’s value statement is different from its vision statement and mission statement in that it articulates the beliefs behind the company’s goals and mission. It creates a moral compass that guides the behavior of all employees and management to ensure that everyone is living the company’s values in their work life.

As you begin the process of creating a value statement, Dr. Bauer suggests taking a couple of preliminary steps.

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Take Time to Consider Your Values

Writing a values statement can be a tedious, semantic process, and sometimes overworked managers feel pressured to check this item off their list quickly so that they can return to the business of doing their jobs. They rush through it to get it out of the way, missing the opportunity to put an effective values statement in place that can make their jobs easier in the long run.

“It’s one of those awkward cases where slower is better,” says Dr. Bauer. “Some people try to knock it out over the weekend at a management retreat, but my experience is that as simple as the process sounds, it really is a very detail-oriented process that takes a lot of thinking, discussion and test driving.”

While it’s possible to create a first draft over a weekend, Dr. Bauer stresses that the whole process should take between six and 12 months.

“Less than six months and you are possibly rushing it. More than a year and you’re possibly not taking it seriously,” he says.

Get Input from Everyone

When Dr. Bauer talks about getting input from everyone in the organization, he really means everyone.

“At each draft level, you ought to send it all the way through the organization to every level and all the way back up again for comment,” he says. No wonder it takes six to 12 months.

“And the goal isn’t to have a document that’s written by committee, because those are notoriously horrible documents. The goal is for it to be absolutely pertinent to everyone in organization, so why not have input right from the start from everyone in the organization?”

Get Buy-In for Your Values

There’s a bonus in this scenario, points out Dr. Bauer. “If you have at least representative input from all levels, you have automatically built in a head start on buy-in from all levels because they will have been a part of the development.”

And buy-in, he says, is a critical part of making the values statement such a valuable tool for the company and everyone associated with it.

 


Dawn Lomer
Dawn Lomer

Managing Editor

Dawn Lomer is the managing editor at i-Sight Software and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She writes about topics related to workplace investigations, ethics and compliance, data security and e-discovery, and hosts i-Sight webinars.

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