Rock your core values
To build a thriving organizational culture, all organizations must develop strength in the following six arenas:
- shared purpose,
- emotional intelligence,
- healthy conflict,
- uncompromised trust,
- clearly defined cascading responsibility and accountability metrics tied to your strategic plan and finally,
- lived core values
The operative word in number 6 is lived, and the topic of this week’s post.
If yours is like most organizations, perhaps you have taken the time to come up with your core values. But, after they have been created, they likely sit in a binder never having had the chance to come to life. Where so many companies fail in the core values project is in the rollout, and in the consistent reinforcement of said values every day.
Below follows 7 specific ways CEOs and their leadership teams can integrate core values into the everyday fabric of their businesses.
Live and lead by example
As a leader, you are always being watched. Setting core values, and then failing to abide by them, is a
recipe for imminent core value disaster. How could you possibly expect your team to behave in ways that
you don’t adhere to? Culture starts from the top and then becomes everyones responsibility to cultivate.
But it all starts from top.
Teach the values through orientation/training.
It’s unrealistic to simply send out an email or a document listing core values, or engrave them on
coasters or walls and expect that everyone will adapt them. Formal training communicates that the values
Let’s say your company has a core value of ‘transparency’. A one hour “all hands on deck” lunch hour
training on this value could be as simple as showcasing how transparency has shown up in your
organization in the past quarter, both internally and externally. Suggestions could then be solicited about
how to improve transparency, and deliberate follow-up on those suggestions could be reported at the next
transparency lunch hour training.
Reinforce the values in all communication
What you stand for ought to show up in all pieces of your organization’s communication. Newsletters,
announcements, social media, podcasts and print. It should show up in your signature line and be talked
about in all inter-departmental meetings. Finally, companies must ensure alignment between internal and
external messaging. How are employees communicating the brand and company attributes? Does the
company messaging in marketing materials, on the website, in Linked In profiles, etc. accurately reflect
the internal messages around the values?
Recognize and reward values-centric behaviours
Most organizations reward employees for performance. Why not reward them when they live by your
Kudos, a Canadian-based company, allows managers and employees to peer-to-peer recognize each other
when they see a colleague living their organization’s core values. When enough “points” have been
accumulated, those can be redeemed for things important to each individual employee (eg: bucket list
experiences, a course, a trip, etc).
Incorporate the values into your hiring process
Selecting candidates that culturally align with your organization is just as important as finding candidates
that match your required experience level and skill set. Unfortunately, most company’s don’t weave their
values into the interview process. No wonder cultural misalignments occur.
Incorporate the values into your performance review process
Once you’ve hired employees that align with your core values, and you’ve trained them on how they can
live the values, you are ready to integrate the core values into the performance review process. The
performance review process is where you inspect what you expect. Be careful, though! Most companies
leave reviews as a once a year event. Values based feedback ought to be ongoing. Quick touch points at
a bare minimum once a week.
Terminate people who violate the core values
Firing employees is always one of the worst aspects of business ownership. However, when an employee
consistently engages in behaviour that contradicts the desired and required behaviours of an organization,
this impacts their personal performance as well as the performance of the company.
If your brand is your culture, and your culture is your values, then an employee who lives in disharmony
with either of these doesn’t do himself or your organization any service, despite how high performing he