Because we want to!
I’m working with an organisation whose volunteer workforce outnumbers its paid team by almost 4:1 and, in the serendipitous way of things, a wonderful remark was dropped into an interview during a discussion I hosted between three of their on-the-ground team members.
“Values need to come from want to do, not paid to do.”
I love this. It gets to the heart of the matter. For values to drive culture successfully, people have to want to live up to them, and be prepared to put in the effort to do that.
They’re part of your employer brand: clear values attract candidates who will be a good fit, they underscore your selection and interview process, and help create a clear understanding of the culture candidates will complement when they join.
Business partners too. A really good set of values helps to ensure successful collaboration where it is understood (and formally agreed) that both organisations live by the values in working together. It minimises the risk of encountering that cold-shower moment of horrified clarity when you realise that a business you’ve partnered just doesn’t share your ethos and that it’s about to impact your carefully-nurtured relationship with a client.
And the key to success is that take up is driven by WANT. It’s what drives that ‘discretionary effort’ Gallup speaks of in evaluating levels of employee engagement. It tends to be related to the quality of an organisation’s sense of vision and purpose, and is not necessarily because a business is relentlessly kind to its team. (I bet BrewDog's people make a massive effort, much of the time.)
The point of values is to create stretch that helps everyone be their best - because they want to.