Building a Values-Driven Workplace: A Blueprint for Success

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Building a Values-Driven Workplace: A Blueprint for Success

Why are the company’s values important for business success? A company’s values are not just a set of words on a wall; they are a strategic tool that influences every aspect of the organization. They create a sense of identity and unity, provide a framework for decisions and behaviours, ensure stability and coherence, and  build the company’s brand. 

Although values might seem abstract and hard to observe, they manifest  in our day-to-day behaviours and decisions. We all have values, whether we are aware of them or not.

At the company level, values are the foundation of its culture. But, because a company itself is not a human identity, its values are formed and sustained by the people within it. So, how does a company form, maintain or transform its values? We will explore this in this blog post. Also, how the company’s values impact its success, and how low values or values that are not sustained through actions can have a negative influence on the business.

How a Company Forms, Maintains, and Transforms Its Values

1. How a Company Forms Its Values

Values state what is considered important for a person, group of people, a company, or larger entities like countries and nations.

Personal values are deeply held beliefs and principles that guide an individual’s attitudes, behaviours, and decision-making. They define what we like and accept and what we dislike and reject in a consistent manner. They serve as milestones and set behaviour standards.

A company’s values are a set of beliefs and principles that are shared by its members and which guide their attitudes, behaviours and decision-making. 

A company’s values begin to take shape with its founder/founders. They play a significant role in establishing the core values, as they define the organization’s vision and mission, which in turn serve as the foundation for the values.

Sometimes, these values are well-defined and intentionally respected, and other times these can influence the company in an informal way. When the founder or leader of the company is deeply involved and has a significant impact on its members, they transmit their values to others, serving as role models. 

You may ask, what about the situation in which the founder doesn’t have a strong influence on the company’s members? Yes, even in this case, the company may have values. Wherever there is a group of people that interact regularly, they form their own rules, formal or informal.

Now, what one company values may be considered a non-value in another company. This means that the company decides what is important, within the limits of the legal rules imposed in the areas where they operate.

For example, one company may value competition among its employees and make decisions that put their employees in a position to compete with each other, while another company can value collaboration and assign tasks and responsibilities in a way that creates the framework and conditions for collaboration.

Formal or Written Values

A company can have its values clearly defined in writing. The company consistently upholds and demonstrates these values in its actions, policies, and practices. 

Values are accompanied by clear behavioural guidelines or principles that help employees understand how to apply these values in their day-to-day work.

A company has values when it not only defines them but also lives by them, integrates them into its culture and decision-making processes, and actively communicates and reinforces them. These values should be reflective of the company’s identity and guide its actions and interactions in a consistent and meaningful way.

Informal or Unwritten Values

As mentioned earlier, a company can have values even if they are not well-defined in writing but are strongly influenced by the founder. In such cases, the values often exist informally and are transmitted through the founder’s actions, behaviours, and leadership style. Here’s how this can work:

Founder’s Influence: The founder’s values, beliefs, and principles serve as a de facto set of values for the company. Employees observe the founder’s actions, decisions, and interactions, which shape their understanding of what the company stands for.

Cultural Alignment: Over time, the founder’s values become embedded in the company’s culture. Employees who resonate with these values are more likely to be attracted to and retained by the organization.

Informal Transmission: These values are communicated informally, often through stories, anecdotes, and day-to-day interactions. They may not be documented in a formal values statement, but they are understood and lived by employees.

Founder-Led Culture: The founder plays a pivotal role in maintaining and upholding the values. Their continued presence and influence in the organization are essential for preserving the values over time.

Consistency: The founder’s consistent adherence to these values reinforces their importance within the organization and sets expectations for employees.

While this informal approach to values can be effective, it also has potential drawbacks:

Risk of Inconsistency: If the founder’s values are not clearly articulated or documented, there may be inconsistencies in how employees interpret and apply them, leading to potential confusion or misalignment.

Dependency on Founder: The sustainability of these values may be contingent upon the founder’s continued involvement in the company. If the founder leaves or steps back from leadership, there can be challenges in maintaining the values.

Have you ever experienced a leadership change in a company? How did it change the way things were done and the principles that guided the decisions and actions?

Scalability: Informal values can sometimes be challenging to scale as the company grows and as new leaders come on board. Without clear documentation, it may be harder to transmit values to a larger or more diverse workforce.

While a company can have values that are strongly influenced by the founder’s impact, it’s essential to consider formalizing and documenting these values over time to ensure clarity, consistency, and sustainability, especially as the organization evolves and grows. Clear values statements can help align all employees and stakeholders with the organization’s principles, regardless of whether or not the founder remains actively involved.

2. How a Company Can Maintain Its Values

Maintaining and upholding company values requires a proactive and ongoing effort. Here are several strategies and practices that can help a company ensure that its values remain integral to its culture and operations:

Leadership Commitment

Leadership, including top executives and managers, must lead by example and consistently demonstrate the company’s values in their behaviour and decision-making. When leaders uphold the values, it sets the tone for the entire organization.

If the leadership doesn’t consistently follow the company’s values, it weakens these values their influence, and creates space for behaviours that are guided by other types of values. This can change the core values of the company and its culture. 

This is why it’s important to carefully choose who is placed in leadership roles. Sometimes, a leader can establish different standards through his or her behaviour than those of the company. This happens especially in large organizations, where the distance between the top leadership and middle or lower leadership is large, or in different branches of a company. 

Regular Communication

This starts with the new employees onboarding process, when the company provides information about its rules, policies and expectations. The new employees already have an image about the company’s values, from the hiring process, but now they get to learn more through the documents they have to read and sign, through the training and interactions they have with other members of the company. 

Then, the company has to continuously communicate its values to employees, for example in the day-to-day activities, by explaining why certain actions or behaviours are considered good or bad, giving feedback when the employee acted according with the company’s values and when they didn’t. In this way, these values are constantly discussed and reinforced.

Integration into Policies and Practices.

Embed the values into organizational policies, procedures, and practices. 

For example, the value of  diversity and inclusion can be incorporated into the hiring process by seeking a diverse pool of candidates in a non-discriminatory manner.

A value such as integrity can be integrated through a Code of Conduct guide that outlines expectations for ethical behaviour and decision-making. In practice, case studies can be discuss to help the employees understand how to apply ethical principle in their work. 

The value of customer focus can be integrated by making customer satisfaction a top priority in all customer interactions. In practice, employees can be  trained to actively listen to customer feedback and take action to resolve issues promptly.

Recognition and Rewards

Recognize and reward employees who exemplify the company’s values in their work. Celebrate and showcase positive examples.


Establish mechanisms for holding employees accountable for aligning with the values. 

For instance, ensure there are consequences for violations, and address issues promptly and fairly. You can create a safe and anonymous reporting system for employees to raise concerns about unethical behaviour or violations of company values. Also, leadership can be hold accountable for setting an example and promoting adherence to company values by evaluating them based on their ability to foster a values-driven culture within their teams.


Encourage open feedback from employees about how well the company is living up to its values. Use this feedback to make necessary adjustments and improvements.

Employee feedback can be provided through various ways, such as surveys, open discussions about decision-making processes, especially those related to values and ethical issues, and listening to their perspectives. Also, focus-groups can be used to seek their inputs on specific values-related initiatives, policies, or changes.

Long-Term Commitment

Understand that maintaining values is an ongoing commitment. It requires continuous effort and should be part of the company’s long-term strategy.

By consistently applying these strategies, a company can maintain its values and ensure that they remain an integral part of its culture and identity. Values, when actively upheld, contribute to a strong and resilient organizational culture.

3. How a Company Can Transform Its Values

Transforming a company’s values is a significant undertaking and should be approached with care and thoughtful planning. Here are steps a company can take to successfully transform its values:

Assessment and Evaluation: Begin by assessing the current values of the company. Are they still relevant and aligned with the company’s mission and goals? Identify areas where values need to change or evolve. Are these responsive to changes in the business environment, industry?

Communicate the Change: Transparently communicate the decision to transform the values to all employees and stakeholders. Explain the reasons behind the change and the benefits it will bring.

Leadership Commitment: Ensure that the company’s leadership team is fully committed to the process of transforming values. Leadership should lead by example in embracing the new values.

Engage Stakeholders: Involve employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders in the process. Seek their input and feedback on what values they believe the company should adopt.

Define New Values: Work collaboratively to define the new set of values that reflect the company’s vision and aspirations. These values should be clear, concise, and actionable.

Align Policies and Practices: Ensure that company policies, procedures, and practices align with the new values. This may involve revising HR policies, performance evaluations, and codes of conduct.

Behavioral Guidelines: Develop clear behavioral guidelines or principles associated with each new value. These guidelines should help employees understand how to apply the values in their daily tasks.

Provide Training and Education: Offer training and education programs to help employees understand the new values and how to integrate them into their work. Use workshops, seminars, and resources to facilitate learning.

Feedback and Adaptation: Create channels for ongoing feedback from employees and stakeholders about the transformation process. Use this feedback to make necessary adjustments and refinements.

Recognition and Rewards: Recognize and reward employees who exemplify the new values in their work. Celebrate milestones and successes achieved in the transformation process. Recognize and acknowledge individuals and teams that contribute to the cultural shift.

Accountability: Establish mechanisms for holding employees accountable for aligning with the new values. Ensure there are consequences for violations, and address issues promptly.

Transforming values in a company is a journey that requires patience, persistence, and consistent effort. It’s essential to involve all stakeholders, maintain open communication, and adapt as needed to ensure the successful integration of the new values into the organizational culture.

One example of values transformation is Google’s famous unofficial motto “Don’t Be Evil” reflected its commitment to ethical practices and user-centricity. Over time, Google faced several challenges and criticisms that led to scrutiny of its actions and business practices. Some critics argued that the “Don’t Be Evil” motto had become somewhat ambiguous and subjective, allowing room for interpretation. Google recognized the need for a more clear and direct expression of its commitment to ethical decision-making. In 2015, during the restructuring of the company under Alphabet Inc., the official code of conduct was changed to “Do the Right Thing.” This motto reflects a broader and more straightforward commitment to ethical behaviour and responsible corporate conduct. It emphasizes the importance of making ethical decisions in all aspects of the business.

Google and Alphabet leadership communicated this change to employees and the public, emphasizing that the company’s core principles remained centered on ethical values and user trust.

How The Company's Values Impact Its Success

A company’s values can have a profound impact on its success in numerous ways:


Employee Engagement

Every employee has his/her own values and these can be aligned or not with the company’s values. They examine the company’s values and each of them decide if they agree or not with them and the way these are practiced. 

When employees resonate with the company’s values, they tend to be more engaged and committed to their work. Engaged employees are more productive, innovative, and likely to stay with the company, reducing turnover costs.

In the case they don’t like the company’s values, even though they choose to act according with these, they will not be truly involved and the results might be impacted negatively. Internal and also external conflicts may occur too because they act or are asked to act against their own beliefs and principles. 

So, lack of engagement can have its source in the misalignment between personal values and the company’s values. Not necessary in the income they earn or in low competences, as usually these situations are understood. 


Decision-Making Framework

Values serve as a guiding framework for decision-making at all levels of the organization. They help employees make choices that align with the company’s long-term goals and ethical standards, leading to better decision outcomes.


Brand Reputation

Companies with strong values often enjoy a better reputation in the eyes of customers, partners, and the public. A positive reputation can lead to increased customer loyalty and trust, contributing to business success.

A good reputation can attract more and higher talents, which will add value to the company success as well. 


Ethical Behaviour

A company who integrates values like integrity and ethical behaviours, reduces the risk of scandals, legal issues, and reputational damage that can harm a company’s success.



Values can differentiate a company in a competitive market. Unique values that resonate with customers can attract a dedicated customer base and set the company apart from competitors.

A company’s values play a fundamental role in shaping its culture, guiding behaviour, and influencing decision-making. When values are aligned with the company’s mission and consistently practiced throughout the organization, they can lead to increased employee satisfaction, customer loyalty, ethical business practices, and overall success in the long term.


How To Motivate Your Employees So They Care For Your Business And Help You Grow It

How Low or Poorly Upheld Values Can Harm The Business

Low or poorly upheld values can significantly harm a business in various ways.

Cultural Erosion: When company values are not upheld, it can erode the organizational culture. Employees may become disillusioned or disengaged, leading to a toxic work environment.

Decreased Employee Morale: When employees perceive a gap between stated values and actual behaviors, their morale can plummet. They may feel demotivated and unappreciated, which can negatively impact their productivity.

High Employee Turnover: A lack of adherence to values can lead to high employee turnover. Employees who do not feel their values align with the organization are more likely to seek employment elsewhere, resulting in recruitment and training costs.

Reputation Damage: Low or poorly upheld values can tarnish a company’s reputation. Negative publicity related to unethical behavior or violations of stated values can lead to a loss of trust among customers, partners, and the public.

Legal and Regulatory Risks: Failing to uphold ethical values can expose the company to legal and regulatory risks. Non-compliance with laws and regulations can result in fines, lawsuits, and damage to the company’s finances and reputation.

Loss of Customer Loyalty: Customers may distance themselves from a company with questionable values. Loss of customer loyalty can translate into declining sales and market share.

Damaged Partnerships: Poorly upheld values can damage partnerships and relationships with suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders who expect ethical conduct and shared values.

Poor Decision-Making: When values are not consistently upheld, it can lead to poor decision-making within the organization. Employees may prioritize short-term gains over long-term sustainability and ethical considerations.

Employee Dishonesty: Low values adherence can foster an environment where employees feel justified in engaging in dishonest or unethical behavior, potentially leading to fraud, corruption, or other misconduct.

Increased Risk: Companies with low values adherence are more vulnerable to risks and crises. The lack of an ethical foundation can exacerbate the impact of negative events on the organization.

Difficulty Attracting Talent: Companies with poor values adherence may struggle to attract top talent, as prospective employees may be deterred by the company’s reputation or perceived lack of ethics.

Low or poorly upheld values can have far-reaching negative consequences for a business, affecting its internal culture, employee satisfaction, external reputation, customer relationships, and overall long-term success. Companies that prioritize and consistently uphold their values are better positioned to build trust, foster a positive workplace culture, and achieve sustainable growth.


In summary, we’ve delved into the intricacies of how company values are born, nurtured, and transformed. These values are the compass that guides an organization’s journey to success. They are the pillars upon which trust, innovation, and sustainable growth are built.

If you haven’t paid to much attention to your company’s values until now, or you haven’t clearly define them and consistently upheld them through documents, policies, decisions, and actions, it’s not too late to start. Begin now and observe the transformations that come with this.

In case your company already has strong values, I hope this post provided you with more resources and information to further improve your company’s value system. 

Key Points:

1. How a company form, maintain and transform its values
2. How the company’s values impact its success
3. How low or poorly upheld values can harm the business

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