Company Values

Your company's "core values" and "mission statement" can have a surprisingly large effect on the behavior and performance of your teams. 

Your values are your collective bias. They give employees a border or framework to make decisions on. They are general enough that they encompass a wide set of types of decisions but also specific enough that they give direct guidance.

I am a big fan of values. 

But most teams' values are not so wise or direct - meaning they do not actually give much guidance. Rather, they are full of fluff and generality. 

"Be trustworthy."

Cool, I'll be trustworthy, but that does not help me make a decision.

"Be respectful."

Of course! 

"Be Collaborative"

You see where I am going with this, right? 

At Facebook, the phrase used to be "move fast and break things." At dropbox, it was "sweat the small stuff." Here at Uber, it's often "let builders build." 

How you phrase your company values changes the way people approach problems. Clearly, at Facebook and Uber, the priority is about building and shipping. It does not matter if you make a few mistakes. What is far more important is that you are shipping, moving quickly, and always learning.

When employees make decisions in this setting, they must often sacrifice small details in hopes of fulfilling that value. 

Alternatively, the team at Dropbox is guided to go slowly and get it right the first time. They probably, when presented with a situation whether to go fast and rush over details or go slowly and check on everything - will choose the latter.

You can see how that can affect your company moreso than words like "responsibility" and "trust." 

Phrases that are too fluffy and do not have tangible use cases where the person applying the value to a situation has to make a tradeoff decision - informed by the value - do not end well. 

So what is your team's guiding light?