What Does Your Company’s Corporate Values Mean to You?

In Search of Excellence

A lot of consultant emphasis the importance of a business establishing its corporate values (core values). One of the first things some top management does is to establish or re-hatch the company values. HR people include them in their new staff induction programs and corporate communication people embellish them in posters, newsletters, intranet, annual reports and so on.

More than often, company craft their corporate values based on what top management think are important and the list is derived through brain storming and consensus. Much of this is table-top exercises and not something drawn from deep personal experience and convictions. Much less were they hand downs of successful business principles from the business founder.

So how do some employees think of the corporate values which they are told remember and upheld? Here are some views:

a)    The company preaches something but does something else. An example is the corporate value “Openness and honesty in communication”. The company does not exemplify this through its tall hierarchal structure and its arrogant top management staff. Performance reviews are only top down but never bottom up.

b)    Top management staff who crafted the corporate values belittles them by lack of personal conviction.

c)    Management sees employees as a lower working class, to do at its becks and calls. When comes to corporate values, the management expects staff to practice it but the management can be excused from it.

d)    The word “value” is probably a poor word choice for “business principles” or “critical success factors” because very few people will put aside their personal values to uphold the corporate values.

e)    The company emphasizes the need for its staff to uphold its corporate values but make little efforts to set up the necessary framework and policies support it.

f)     The company makes no or poor attempts to hire job applicants that share similar corporate values.

g)    Some company uses the corporate values in its performance reviews and its staff disciplinary process. Is this practical and appropriate?

h)   The company has corporate values but does not have a HR philosophy, does it really values its staff?

These views do not mean that corporate values are not important. Although corporate values may rank third to the importance of choosing the right business and an effective business model, they become powerful drivers if:

a)    The organization is run as a community rather than as a army.

b)    They are internalized – it comes from within (much like a passion or a strong belief) – most of the management and staff believe in its importance.

c)    Everyone strives to develop the practices that allow one to operationalize those values in the business.

d)    They are meaningful to everyone. All that is needed is to focus on the key values and not attempt throw in what may be good to have. It is not a question of numbers or completeness.

Some organization do without defining a set of core values and instead choose to be led by their mission.

The evidence is found in the behavior of people in the workplace as they go about their work. A good example is the Singapore General Hospital.

Other companies that are worth researching into are:



Swagelok Company


Levis Strauss & Co


Johnson & Johnson


Georg Fischer Piping Systems


Diethelm Keller Siber Hegner


Procter & Gamble


Shell Global


The Walt Disney Company


“If you leave us our buildings and our brands, but take away our people, the Company will fail. But if you take away our money, our buildings and our brands, but leave us our people, we can rebuild the whole thing in an decade.” Richard R. Deupree, P&G CEO 1948 to 1959

[print-me target=”#post-%ID%” title=”Print This Article”]