By Richard Boxx
My friend, Roger, recently returned from a six-week Graduate program at a major business college. A comment by one of his professors caused Roger to rethink his personal views on how to shape the culture in his business.
"Values are not the solution," the professor said. As Roger pondered this, he saw the truth in that statement. When values are not lived out, they can actually damage the business more than having no verbalized values at all.
As Roger pondered the simple statement, he realized that unless values are translated into behaviors, they are meaningless and not worth the paper on which they are written. Sadly, we see this type of dualistic thinking manifested too much in contemporary society. People boldly profess certain values with their words, but their actions show little evidence that they truly believe the ideals they claim to embrace.
A passage in the Bible addresses this: James 2:17 teaches, "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." This does not necessarily deny the existence of one's faith but says that unless it changes the way we act, it is pointless. Likewise, values that are not demonstrated by our conduct in every area of life – including our work – will have little if any impact in our companies or those with whom we interact every day.
Some companies have value statements that they display in prominent areas and discuss periodically. The purpose is to remind everyone, from the CEO to part-time workers, of what is most important to the organization, and the motives that should drive each individual’s work. These values, then, should establish the corporate culture that then guides decisions and behavior.
Often we can trace corporate values back to when the business was created. Beware, though, that values can change or be lost over time unless leaders affirm them consistently, express them in written form, and then practice them consistently. For followers of Christ, values we embrace and demonstrate should be rooted in the teachings of the Bible.
For instance, "in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12). Is this a value that remains in the forefront of everyone's mind in the company, or is it practiced only when it benefits the company's goals? Does everyone emphasize honesty and integrity in all business dealings, even when doing so could jeopardize closing a sale or finalizing a deal? Here is an example of what the Scriptures say about that: "The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful" (Proverbs 12:22).
Remember the adage, "talk is cheap." What enables us to stand out as genuine, fruitful ambassadors of Jesus Christ is living and conducting business in a manner consistent with what we claim to believe. A familiar motto warns us, "Unless your talk lines up with your walk, the less said the better."
As Roger learned, values are important in business, but not nearly as important as encouraging and teaching your team to behave according to those values.
© 2018. Unconventional Business Network. Adapted with permission from "Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx," a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about their ministry, visit www.unconventionalbusiness.org. His latest book, Unconventional Business, provides "Five Keys to Growing a Business God's Way."