I see company values all the time. I see them in reception areas. I see them on brochures and on websites, and I see them on noticeboards. I see the words…but is that enough?
Many organisations have values. They underpin the vision and the mission. They describe what is important to the company. They tell you what you can expect in terms of the way everyone behaves and how they do business, and what you should see and feel when you walk round. They are a great way of bringing everyone together to work in the same direction, providing that is, that everyone has bought into them, everyone knows them, and everyone is behaving in accordance with them.
Whenever I see values I don’t take them as a given. I like to see evidence…in one such company as I walked round I asked random people what the values were. No-one knew them…and they were everywhere. They were on the noticeboards, mouse-mats, desk-tops and on their coffee mugs, and they had very quickly become nothing more than wall paper.
Which begs the question, why have them at all?
So, if values are so important – how do we land them so everyone is bought in?
1. Write them together
Not always easy or possible, especially in a large organisation, but try and involve as many people as possible in a working party. The values should reflect what is important to the organisation and the people in it.
2. Try and describe the culture
What is it like to work around here? What do you do well naturally? Do you pride yourself in your customer service? Is it a fun place to be? Capture the essence of your culture in your values too. This will make it all the more relevant to everyone and much easier to keep them alive.
3. Measure people against the values
Instead of just launching your values and ticking the box, incorporate them into everything. Talk about them at performance reviews and one to one meetings. How are your teams doing at living the values? What examples have you got for a job well done?
4. Bring them alive at inductions and at meetings
Inductions are a great way to introduce a new team member to how the company operates. So, talk about your values. Describe why they are important, how they came to be and show some examples of values in action. Ask your new recruits to come up with their own ideas and share them with their teams. Bring them alive in stories and real life examples in your team meetings too.
5. Less is more
You don’t need to plaster your values everywhere. They should be so much more than words on a mouse mat. They are the heart of the organisation and reflect the people that work there. For them to really work they need to be part of the culture, and should be seen and felt around the company. Keep them alive by talking about them, demonstrating them and role model the way.