Six Australian companies and their core values
Respect for people
Fail fast, learn fast
Best version of ourselves
Make an impact
Open company, no bullshit
Build with heart and balance
Don’t #@!% the customer
Play, as a team
Be the change you seek
The Australian Ballet
We are exceptional
We are ambitious
We are innovators
We are proudly Australian
We are one team
We are sustainable
Customers are our priority
Do the right thing
We lead change
True North Adventure Cruises
They are supposed to be words to live by, but in many cases company values can seem more ’empty’ than ’inspirational’.
According to the managing director of Brandswell, Sophie Bartho, even company leaders can be cynical about, well, the value of their company's values.
“The pattern and the history, sadly, has been posters on a wall rather than values that are demonstrated, lived and celebrated within the business,” Bartho says.
There are good reasons to turn this around. Bartho believes well-chosen company values create alignment and can also help attract or retain the right talent and the right customers.
"There are enormous efficiency gains to be had in doing this well," Bartho says.
Connecting with staff
Co-founder and CEO of Filtered Media, Heather Jones recently revisited her company’s values after eight years in business. While the company vision hadn’t changed, management decided to cut down the initial eight values to four to ensure they remained meaningful (and, she confesses, memorable).
Jones’s experience in business also taught her that there needs to be an inherent values ‘match’ between staff members and those at the helm. At the moment, Jones’s agency employs mostly twenty to forty year olds; a factor she thinks plays a role in which values are embraced by staff.
“My parents’ generation is a ‘what’ generation; we are a ‘why?’ generation. It used to be that ‘what’ you do defines you. But the generation now is always looking for the why: they don’t so much care what they do, but why they are doing it,” Jones says.
There’s another key reason to get this right: retention.
“If you want [strong levels of] retention with staff, you have to know the why – and ensure their why is the same as yours,” Jones says.
In interviews, Jones actively looks for the company’s values in action.
“As we talk…we're actively looking for signposts of Excellence, Positivity, Integrity and Curiosity in a candidates' personal or past professional lives.
“For integrity, if they've done volunteering, for example, that's a signpost. For curiosity, if they've travelled, studied a language, watch documentaries, go to festivals, or pursue a sport or hobby, that's a signpost.
“I remember one candidate who spent a lot of time dissing another agency and its personnel in an interview – possibly to show her newfound allegiance to us – but it didn't sit right with our culture that values positivity and integrity,” Jones says.