At TINYhr, we live and breath by our cultural values. It’s how we hire, fire, and make every business decision. It actually makes life easier; when you have standards through which to vet decisions, you know what questions to ask to see if an idea is good or bad. We have very fixed values at TINYhr. We turned them into an acronym to make them easier to remember:
Now, don’t get us wrong. Cultural values aren’t something you just post on the wall and forget about, assuming everyone will care. For values to become core to the team, the team needs to know what they are. Whether your organization is young or old, there are steps you can take to institutionalize your organizational values:
Assess your current reality. First off, you need to know where your employees stand. To kick things off, ask them something like, “With eyes closed and fingers crossed, can you recite our organization's vision, mission, and cultural values?” One question is all you need to gauge their knowledge (or ignorance) and see where people are currently at.
Evangelize them. Print them up, post them on the walls, talk about them every day. There’s no better way than to make sure your staff buys into and identifies with the organization’s values than to make them part of everyday life.
Reinforce them. Did an employee do something that lives up to your organizational values? Let them know. Are you assessing solutions to a problem? Ask your employees which solutions live up to your values. This process continues to reinforce those values.
Make business decisions by them. You’d be amazed how much easier it is to make business decisions when you have a set of guidelines you can use to vet them. Visions and missions let you do just that. Plus, when you discuss decision-making in the context of your values, you help solidify those values in everyone’s minds.
Make hiring decisions by them: Every TINYhr job description includes our values, and weask interested candidates to provide two examples of how they’ve exemplified these values. If they don’t relate to these values, or aren’t able to share how, we know they won’t be a great fit for our culture. Better to get it out in the open now.
Over time, everyone on the team will come to see these values as akin to the organization’s identity. They’ll take them on as their own, and make their own decisions based on them.
How do you think about institutionalizing values in your organization?