Family businesses often cherish their values as they are deeply rooted in the company's history and culture. These values are typically established by the founding generation of family business leaders and become an integral part of the company's identity. However, as time goes by and the business landscape evolves, it becomes crucial for family businesses to assess whether their values remain relevant and effective. This article explores the importance of periodically re-evaluating family business values and how doing so can positively impact long-term growth and success.
Times Change: The Need for Fresh Values
While the values that guided a family business in its early days may have served it well, they might no longer be as applicable or effective in the current market environment. Here are some signs indicating that it may be time to consider a values re-evaluation:
The business has changed and evolved, and the original values are no longer as relevant as they originally were
A new generation of the family has taken over the leadership and wants to signal a fresh approach
Your values no longer distinguish you from other companies
Your values no longer totally reflect the type of business you aspire to be
Your people can no longer identify with your values in a way that they once did
Your values are no longer your USP when it comes to attracting customers and employees
The Value of Values
Understanding the significance of values is crucial for family business leaders. Your values have the potential to be your USP. If written and executed well, they can differentiate you from the rest and directly impact long-term profitable growth. Your values have the power to:
1. Attract the right people who share your values and mindset
2. Reduce staff turnover and the costs associated with that
3. Increase productivity
4. Differentiate you in the eyes of your customers
5. Differentiate you in the eyes of your suppliers
6. Underpin the culture of your business and 'how we work together around here'
7. Position you as a business that is serious about its people and its long-term impact
Revamping Your Values: An Evolution, Not a Revolution
The process of re-evaluating family business values need not be a complete overhaul.
Instead, it can be an evolutionary process that builds upon the existing foundation. Here are steps to consider when embarking on a values re-evaluation:
Firstly, identify what is driving the need for a change in your values
Identify the success criteria for any Values refresh - what is it you want to achieve and how will you know when you've got there?
Decide on the role of your various stakeholders e.g., your people, the leadership, your customers, your suppliers etc
Create a process for involving all those highlighted above
Identify a communication plan to run alongside this activity
Identify how you will ensure that your values can be translated into everyday behaviours which will shape your culture
Identify what external help and expertise you will need to achieve the desired outcome
Family businesses that recognise the need to periodically re-evaluate their values demonstrate a commitment to staying relevant and competitive in a changing business landscape.
By carefully revisiting and evolving their values, family businesses can attract the right talent, enhance employee engagement, build stronger relationships with customers and suppliers, and position themselves for long-term sustainable growth.
Embracing values as a powerful tool for differentiation and culture-building can lead to a more prosperous and purpose-driven family business journey.