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What is the value, of values?

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Recently, the High-Rise team jumped on a Zoom call (what else?) to discuss what our values are as an agency.

This led to some serious brainstorming. After all, you can’t just throw a bunch of words at a wall and see what sticks. Much like in personal life, values define you. They embody your organisation’s priorities, hold its actions to a certain standard, and keep it from veering off track.

They also have to be meaningful. It’s all very well saying ‘we’re this’ and ‘we’re that’ but are you really? Could you prove it? Do you act with this in mind at all times?

After much to-ing, and fro-ing, we decided on High-Rise’s 5 values, which will be revealed at the end of this blog. In the meantime, our Account Manager Laura has put together her three learnings she took away from the Zoom call:

Less is often more

There’s always a big temptation to be and say everything.

But not only will this seem like overkill, it can also be much harder for you and your colleagues to uphold. For example, if a situation presents itself and there are numerous routes you can take out of it – which value do you behave according to?

It also lessens the impact of the words.

Say you’re looking at a business, and its one value is ‘quality’, but that one value is evident in everything it does. Then you look at another and it’s got a list of twelve values that range from ‘leadership’ and ‘teamwork’ to ‘trustworthy’ and ‘accountable’. Which one would appeal most to you?

More values do not equate to a more ‘valuable’ organisation.

Put down that thesaurus

Your values don’t need to be impressive sounding words. In fact, it is often best to avoid this if a particular word isn’t actually directly suited to your company or charity. Instead, stick to simple and direct language.

For example, ‘integrity’ may sound like a good value – and it is. But what does it really mean? How does someone recognise when it is needed and act with it? Then, take ‘honest’ – this is straightforward, it means what it says and can be easily applied across the organisation.

It’s worth also adding that these words don’t have to be all work and no play. If your organisation prides itself on a friendly workplace atmosphere, it’s just as good to have ‘welcoming’ or ‘fun’ as your value. After all, it reflects you.

Consult far and wide

All too often, a board meets, decides on the values, and sends them out via email to everyone else in the organisation. This is definitely not the right way to go about it, and it will not inspire your colleagues, staff members and volunteers to take these values away with them and apply them to everything they do.

Instead, reach out. If a person has a say in what the company’s values are, they will take ownership of them and know that they play a part in where the organisation is heading. Consult with everyone – all the way from volunteers and beneficiaries, to stakeholders and the management team.

This could involve break-out Zoom sessions if there are too many people to get on one call, a questionnaire sent out far and wide, or – when it’s safe to do so – an activity that gets the blood pumping and creative juices flowing where team members need to stand in front of a value that they think defines the company.

Once your values have been agreed upon by everyone, start spreading the word. Ensure these values are everywhere, from your website and social media, to any internal documents or proposals. And then it’s quite simple – either live them or lose them.

So, after the team’s careful consideration, here are High-Rise’s 5 values:

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