South Africa & Australia

How values support Adcorp Group’s purpose 

How values support Adcorp Group’s purpose 
Connecting Human Potential | Enablers of agile, focused and skilled workforces for the future
5 mins

At Adcorp Group, the discussions we have as a leadership team ensure that we stay true to our purpose, leadership principles and values. Our CEO, Dr John Wentzel and our Chief People Officer, Vinolia Singh, sat down together to explore the Adcorp Group’s five values and how they support our purpose as a business.

Vinolia: Why are core values important?

John: For me, values are one of the most important things about a company. Personally, I cannot imagine working for a company whose values conflict with mine. For example, if respect is important to you, as it is to me, and you as a person show respect to others, then why would you want to work for an organization that does not respect you? An organisation’s core values lay the foundation for what the company cares about. It provides a common purpose that all employees should understand, work towards and live by. 

Once you define and promote your values, employees come to understand the behaviours that are expected of them that will ultimately make a company successful. To me, values are important because they make it clear to everyone what is accepted and what is not accepted by the company. We went through a process recently of defining new values and choosing five values that I think guides how we want to behave towards each other, colleagues, clients, shareholders, and society at large. These values encapsulate what I think this company at its core is about:

Teamwork: We work as a team but ultimately take accountability for our own delivery

Customer centricity: Without our customers we have no reason to exist, we exist because of our customers.

Agility: We know this is important because this is what customers are asking of us, that we are agile in meeting their needs.

Respect: That we treat everyone with respect. We expect to be treated with respect and will treat others with respect in turn.

Diversity and Inclusion: We welcome and embrace diversity and inclusion. We want everyone to feel at home, irrespective of gender, age, education levels, ethnicity, sexual orientation and so on. 

Vinolia: Why was it necessary to launch new values at the Adcorp Group?

What we previously had in the organisation was ‘the formula’, which was a way that the Adcorp Group tried to communicate what it wanted and how it wanted people to behave. It was a good formula, but it was complex and difficult to explain what we expected of employees. We needed to make it simple and easy to understand, because that would radically improve the chances of it being implemented. 

The need to launch new values is best encapsulated by how I would measure whether values are effective: If the least qualified employee at Adcorp Group and whose home language is not English can understand the values, then we have a good chance of making them work.

Vinolia: When you joined the Adcorp Group as Group CEO in April 2021, you were passionate about reigniting our purpose and we’ve recently launched a new purpose for the group. Can you share how these new values link to the purpose?

John: Purpose inspires, values guide. Purpose is the centre. It defines why we as Adcorp exist as a company and what difference we want to make in our world. The values talk to how we live that purpose. For example, we cannot build agile workforces for our clients if we ourselves are not agile. We will not deliver on our purpose if we don’t deliver as a team.

The link between purpose and values comes together to build a culture. This is a culture we can be proud of, that attracts people and that we can say with pride, I work for the Adcorp Group.  

Vinolia: As the leader of the Adcorp Group, how do we ensure that the new values are embedded throughout the company?

John: If we look at our values, we can see they are a mix between values that are embedded in the organisation at this point in time, such as respect and customer-centricity, and values that are aspirational. We will find differing levels of embeddedness and understanding across the organisation of each of these values.

To embed them, we must first be aware that this will require constant work. Publishing a set of values in the annual report doesn’t mean people live them. We want to hear from staff as well – how do we make our values real and embedded in what we do? These are our values – they belong to every individual in Adcorp. We will then take specific actions to ensure people understand them, give examples of what each value is and is not, and then ensure they are always visible.

Vinolia: In many instances value exercises become lost because they are words on a wall. How will we ensure this doesn’t happen and that people live the values instead?

John: Defining what those values are is important, but we also need to make it clear what the values mean and don’t mean. There are espoused values and values in action. Espoused values are just words – they are up on a wall and in the annual report. But values in action are what people experience. I would much rather have an organisation where people experience our values over simply reading them in our annual report. If we are going to have values in action, then we need to do a few things. For example, we need to measure how we are doing in implementing them. This requires us to embed the values in how we assess our managers, how we recruit and induct new employees and so forth. 

What happens to someone who doesn’t want to live the values? It’s a process. Do they understand the values, and have they been given coaching and training to show how they are not living by the values, as well as the time and space to correct their behaviour? We want people to embrace our values and give them the understanding, time and space to adopt them. If, after all of that training, coaching, communication and effort, we have people who don’t accept our values, then we need to make it clear that they are not welcome at Adcorp. 

John: Vinolia, you’ve been at the Adcorp Group longer than I have. How do you feel about the new values as our chief people officer?

Vinolia: I’ve been with Adcorp Group for three and half years. I’m excited by the new values because they are simple and can be understood by every employee at the business.

What’s key for me and what I hope to achieve through these values is to drive higher employee engagement. A common set of values speaks to how we behave and treat each other. And when our behaviours align, we create a common culture and a positive culture in the organisation. As an individual, I would like my values to align with the organisation’s values. It will also be quite imperative to get alignment between employee and organisational values and where there is a disconnect, we will need to evaluate what our next steps should be.

Being aligned with our values creates a common culture, which in turn impacts how engaged I am as an individual when I show up to work each day. Research has proven that the more engaged an employee is, the more productive they are and when an employee is productive, the organization enjoys greater success. And if we can succeed collectively and share in this great success, why not? But values are the core foundation for this, bringing us to a common purpose and goal as Adcorp Group.

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