Making the conscious choice to declare your values and act according to them takes both work and bravery – for leader and individual contributors. But the benefits can’t be understated: it’s been proven time and again that values-driven companies consistently outperform companies for whom values are words on a poster. More importantly, though, people take pride in working for companies they can both trust and believe in.
HERE ARE SOME SUCCESS FACTORS TO CONSIDER
“TAILOR” YOUR VALUES.
Excellence. Respect. Innovation. These sound like great values – who doesn’t want to see those in action? They’re also a bit generic. For values to truly ’come alive’ they need to be aspirational, something propel that can prepare a group united by a common purpose into the future.
FIGURE OUT WHAT IT TAKES LIVE UP TO YOUR VALUES
Values are meaningless if they aren’t achievable. Define your motivations, the mindsets required, and the behaviours and actions needed for someone to live those values. Most importantly, clearly articulate why those values should matter to the individuals in your organization.
VALUES MUST START AT THE TOP.
For values to thrive, executives must not only see them as a business driver, but as something that applies to everyone equally. Leading by example is essential if values are to matter.
WATCH FOR TENSION
Values are great, but they can be taken too far. Respect for everyone’s effort is a great value, but not if you tolerate mediocrity, or substandard performance. Everyone loves a high performer, but not if they place results ahead of mutual respect. For values to work, you need to be clear on the potential tensions between values, and what to do if values come into conflict.
STORIES ARE MORE THAN JUST STORIES
Real, candid accounts of individuals, leaders, and teams living values in a deeply personal way are more than just stories – they’re proof that values work. When you share them widely, they can help embed values as a ‘norm’ within the organization.
TEACH EVERYONE TO FISH
Not everyone in the business will have the skills and mindsets they need to live by your declared values. That’s why it’s essential to teach them. If ‘caring’ is a value, it must be supported by teachable skills such as emotional intelligence: active listening, non-verbal communication, etc.
REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION.
Values must appear everywhere and influence how everyone thinks and speaks, regardless of whether it’s to a leader, a peer, or a customer. Establishing regular rituals and channels to discuss and reinforce values is how they go from words on page to an autonomic response.
MAKE VALUES PART OF THE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE
Linking purpose to recognition, total rewards, performance, talent attraction (EVP/employer brand), talent management, leadership, and other HR programs ensures alignment + sustainable activation.
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