Company values cannot be merely said, they must be lived. Lived by every single employee of your company, internally and externally. Prospects and customers experience how you live your values in every interaction.
All it takes is one misstep for the perception of your company and brand to unravel. If employees are not living your values, including internally, it undermines all of the effort that has gone into creating those values.
I experienced this earlier this year. A vendor inadvertently forwarded an internal email chain. And it was damning. It took less than 10 seconds for the perception they had worked to develop over nearly two years to unravel.
Here are two excerpts from the email chain, modified slightly to protect the identity of the company (this is an example, not a vendetta):
… give them more than one week.
Our contract, negotiated and agreed, stipulated that all records were no more than one week old. In a second email, more than 24 hours later:
Ignore their plea about the records being one week do it till the beginning of the quarter. They will not be able to tell.
Our contract is merely a plea, magnifying the disregard for our agreement and what will make the program successful. And the week stipulation is stretched not by a few days but to more than eight weeks!
Two other people in the organization read the lines above and didn’t speak up. In an instant, one person with two accomplices, showing complete disregard for running a successful program or even honoring basic contract terms, destroyed my opinion of an entire organization.
Your company values are the collective values of your employees, and your employees must adopt your values as their own. Not just as rules to follow when someone is looking. If not, your values are a house of cards that will crumble at the first misstep.