The word "values" has gotten so much play in the business and
political press that its meaning has become diluted and vague. We
have lost track of what makes values such an important
motivator—whether it is to compel people to perform at work
or vote. In the business arena, values provide direction to
employees when challenges or opportunities arise; motivate
employees toward a higher goal; and build commitment to an
organization with which employees can identify. In short, values
enhance commitment, which, in turn, increases job satisfaction.
Commitment and satisfaction drive productivity and attendance. Now
these are concepts you can link to your bottom line.
Go to almost any business's Web site and you will find generic
values listed if you find them at all. Innovation, quality,
teamwork, integrity—these are laudable values, but they lose
meaning with overuse and ubiquity. To create real meaning in your
workplace, ask yourself, "What values can my employees sink their
teeth into?" Think about what is important to you, and then
translate it to your business. For example, if family is important
to you, link that value to respect and support for each other at
work. Loyalty promotes the value of honest communication with each
other and your customers. Humility and lack of pretension send the
message that you need to focus on efficiency and cost cutting. Look
to your family, friends, home and spiritual life for values that
move you, and then bring those values to work. Define them in terms
that can help employees make a ready link between values and
action. And then monitor, measure and recognize their
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