Not living your values? Watch out!

30 September 2015
30 September 2015, Comments: 0


Last week Volkswagen admitted their cars contained devices to cheat air pollution tests. What was the reaction?

Swift & serious!

First, CEO Martin Winterkorn apologized for breaking public trust and promised VW would fully cooperate with regulators. He lost his job.

Second, the stock price dropped 30%. The market punishes companies for not following their values.

Third, countries are investigating how to react to the scandal.

Volkswagen’s website their corporate values are “Responsibility and Sustainability. Volkswagen is more than an employer. We are responsible for people, the economy, society and the environment. Employees at Volkswagen take on responsibility by becoming involved in voluntary work. Sustainable, collaborative and responsible thinking underlies everything we do.”

It is apparent that Volkswagen has not lived up to its values of responsibility and sustainability.

While this is an unusual case, what happens when you don’t live your organization values?

  1. Your employees will care less about the organization – Employees know when values aren’t being followed. They will therefore, not follow the values either. This results in wasted efforts, wasted resources, and decisions not aligned with where the organization STATES they want to go.
  2. Higher turnover rates – Employees will find employment where the values are followed. The employees who can find other jobs are usually your better employees. So the quality of your employee base is eroded.
  3. Negative talk about the organization – Word of mouth advertising, and social media are difficult to control. Your employees will not be as positive about the organization, and this could hurt your market share, or lower your share price.
  4. It takes time to rebuild trust – Some employees, investors, and customers may never trust you again. This is another hit to the bottom line.


Your values shape the culture and reflect what is important to the organization. They should be seriously considered, because they are deeply embedded in your organization’s DNA and therefore, difficult to change.

Values can help you make decisions, hire employees, communicate importance, and keep the right employees. Defining and using your values effectively benefits the organization by attracting and retaining the best customers and employees, and using internal resources effectively.

What do your values look like? Are they being followed? Are they giving you a competitive advantage?

Want to “fine tune” your values? Contact me at

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