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The transformative impact of personified values in business

I believe that personifying a company’s values presents a powerful approach to instilling a robust and coherent ethos within your organisation. It’s an innovative method that goes beyond traditional articulations of values, offering a unique and practical way to integrate these principles deeply into the organisational fabric.

The essence of personifying company values

Once you have the unique set of values that you feel is representative of you and your company culture, I would recommend taking the next step to “personify” them in an acronym. This acronym should be easy to remember and ideally, a fictitious person’s name. This approach yields numerous benefits:

1. Memorability and Personal Connection: An acronym that forms a name is significantly more memorable than a list of values. It fosters a personal connection, aiding employees in internalizing and demonstrating these values.  We were able to discuss the organisational “standard” by simply mentioning this person’s name – it was highly effective.

2. Unified Language: A personified set of values creates a common language within the organization, essential for a shared understanding and a strong company culture.

3. Decision-Making Framework: Clear, memorable values provide a framework for decision-making across all levels of the organisation, ensuring actions are aligned with the company’s core beliefs.

Meet GARTH: A deep dive into a personal implementation

In applying this concept in my own organization, we developed ‘GARTH’, an acronym that became the embodiment of our values. Each letter represented a principle that addressed the needs of our employees, customers, and the business:

G for Growth: This encompassed the personal and professional development of our employees, encouraging them to expand their skills and knowledge. It also meant helping our customers grow their businesses, recognizing that their success contributes to ours. For the business, growth signified the pursuit of strategic expansion and continuous improvement.

A for Action: We fostered a culture of initiative and achievement. This value encouraged employees to take proactive steps towards goals, ensuring that our team was not just busy, but productive and results-driven. For our clients, it meant a commitment to delivering solutions with efficiency and effectiveness.

R for Respect: Mutual respect within our team was paramount, creating an environment where every individual felt valued and heard. This extended to our interactions with clients, ensuring that we approached each relationship with understanding and professionalism. Respect also guided our business practices, maintaining integrity and ethical standards.

T for Trust: Building and maintaining trust both internally and with our clients was a cornerstone. Internally, this meant fostering a transparent and supportive work environment. Externally, it involved consistently delivering on promises and maintaining reliability, thereby establishing long-term trust with our clients. It meant that we trusted each other, but we were also people who could be trusted.

H for Help: We committed to a collaborative spirit, always ready to support each other and our clients. This value was about more than just assistance; it was about partnership and being a reliable resource for others. Helping also meant contributing positively to our community and industry.

GARTH was a standard.  We would ask people to “be more GARTH” or perhaps “that was not very GARTH”.  We used it in performance reviews, OKRs and even in recruitment (judging candidates by how “GARTH” they were).  It was far more effective than a list of values placed on a company intranet that was rarely accessed by employees.  It became embedded into our culture.

Creating your unique value persona

The adaptability of this approach allows every organization to create its unique acronym that aligns with its specific values. For example, your organisation might choose ‘CLARA’ – representing Collaboration, Leadership, Accountability, Resilience, and Advancement. Each element of CLARA would similarly address different aspects of the organization’s stakeholders, creating a holistic view of its values:

C for Collaboration: Fostering a teamwork-oriented environment within the company, working closely with clients to understand and meet their needs, and encouraging cross-functional collaboration for business growth.

L for Leadership: Developing leadership skills at all levels within the organization, leading the market with innovative solutions, and steering the company with a clear vision.

A for Accountability: Promoting a culture of responsibility among employees, being accountable for delivering quality service to clients, and upholding ethical practices in all business dealings.

R for Resilience: Supporting personal and professional resilience among employees, maintaining service quality even in challenging times, and building a resilient business model.

A for Advancement: Encouraging continuous learning and career growth for employees, advancing customers’ interests, and pursuing continuous improvement and innovation in the industry.

Embracing a new path in value integration

The personification of company values is an effective strategy for developing a vibrant, unified, and purpose-driven corporate culture. It turns abstract concepts into principles that resonate with every team member, driving collective success. I encourage businesses to explore this method – find your own ‘GARTH’ or ‘CLARA’ – and witness how transforming your values into a relatable persona can have a profound impact on your organization’s culture and achievements.

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