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The Transformational Power of a Company Values Session

Birds-eye photo of a meeting with laptops and paper

The Need for a Values Refresh

I’m not sure if you’ve experienced the same, but in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, it’s easy for smaller companies like ours to become so focused on day-to-day operations and the ‘doing’ of the job that we overlook the significance of defining and living/working by a set of core values. However, having recently held a values session, I can see first-hand how this can be a transformative exercise and how it has positively impacted our team, and in turn, hopefully our customers. 

Choc Affair has been established for over 16 years, and our values have been at the heart of our growth over the years, but I’ve felt as if we’ve never communicated them particularly well externally, or even internally really to the team. It’s simply been that we’ve done things the way we have because it’s always been that way and we’ve known that’s who we are. 

Embarking on a Journey of Self-Discovery

So, as we approached the end of 2022, I began considering the possibility of holding a values session, to see if it would be beneficial to the business, and after some discussion with an external company booked a local hall with parking to hold the session in.  A month before the agreed date, we put together an email informing everyone about the session, and said we’d end the day with a drink at the local pub, located near to the venue. I felt that if we used our last working day before our Christmas break up, it was a good use of time and we’d  end the year on a bit of a different note. 

I didn’t know how the session would be received, and felt a little nervous to be honest, so felt it important to bring in some external expertise to host the session, and I took part along with everyone else.  

We began the day with an exercise looking at our personality types, and all had to put a name next to the personality type we felt they sat within. It was a really interesting exercise and it got us all chatting easily and was an effective warm up. 

Post-it notes

Engaging Conversations and Finding Common Ground

Next step was to complete a sheet on what was important to us on a personal level, before we spoke in small groups, and then transferring the values discussed with the wider team. There were some really interesting conversations, and differing views on some areas, which was good to see. 

A piece of paper with values on it

Finally, we enjoyed a couple of drinks at the local pub before heading off in our different directions for the Christmas break.

The choc affair team

Reflecting and Distilling Core Values

In the new year, it was down to me to revisit what had come out of the session, look at the strong themes and from that pull what was most important to us as a team.

Family was a strong repeating theme and whilst it felt to me a bit of an insular word, and not quite a true reflection of our wider outward feel, what did come out was that it was the feelings and shared sense of trust the word family evoked. So, from there, the value we decided was Community.

Once we’d got the first draft, each of our team gave their input again and we finalised our core internal and external values – it wasn’t a quick process overall, it needed time and consideration for us to see how the words we had considered sat with us, and whether they were values we could and would live by rather than simply being words on a wall which no one read or felt had any meaning.

Incorporating Personal Touches and Positive Affirmations

There was one word in particular, very personal to me, which I felt needed to be included, and that was about positivity, and our choosing an optimistic and enthusiastic attitude every day. No one grumbled about including it thankfully! 

Bringing Our Values to Life

Off they went to our designer, for Kirsty to add her creative magic, and create something we could have on the walls, as a reminder of who and what we stand for, along with some positive quotes and sayings, to help reinforce the messaging. Ironically, one of the sayings we chose to include, we’d previously had on the wall for over 5 years, and Julian (our CEO) had never noticed it! But, once we’d refreshed everything and added the new values design, thankfully, he became aware of it, and has in subsequent meetings referenced it, which has felt very positive.

So, from one small business to another, maybe give holding a values session some thought, take the time to gather your team together, to work out as a group what you stand for, and see how your team spirit and sense of unity grows.

Multiple hands on top of each other

My top 5 Reasons to hold a values session with your team

Building a Strong Foundation

Values serve as the bedrock upon which a company’s culture and identity are built. By conducting a values session, a small company establishes a strong foundation for its team. It provides an opportunity for team members to collectively define and embrace a set of guiding principles that reflect the company’s purpose, mission, and aspirations.

Alignment and Consistency

When team members share a common set of values, it fosters alignment and consistency in decision-making, actions, and behaviours. Values sessions allow you to communicate and reinforce the importance of these principles, ensuring that everyone is on the same page, and they can help your team members develop a deeper sense of purpose and pride in their work. This, in turn, increases job satisfaction, boosts morale, and reduces turnover, contributing to a more stable and productive workforce.

Team Cohesion and Collaboration

Values sessions bring team members together to discuss and articulate their collective beliefs and aspirations. Through open dialogue, you can build strong bonds among team members, enhancing trust, collaboration, and communication as they seek to support each other, and contribute to a positive team dynamic.

Guiding Decision-Making

One of the most practical benefits of values sessions is the establishment of a decision-making framework. When faced with difficult choices, it helps if you can turn to your defined values to guide the decisions, letting them act as a compass, ensuring that decisions align with your core principles and help to make consistent, ethical, and purpose-driven choices that support the growth and sustainability of the company.

Attracting and Retaining Talent

In a competitive employment market, small companies need to attract and retain the right people who will work well within the existing team. Values sessions provide a powerful platform to showcase the company’s unique culture and beliefs during the recruitment process and can help you determine if someone is a good fit. Strong values can also help in a disciplinary situation, as you can use them as the guiding principle to consider throughout what can be a very difficult and emotionally charged process.