Your company drafted a set of organizational values for a reason. But as businesses grow and priorities shift, those values can become overlooked or even neglected. Our research found that only 42% of employees know their organization's visions, missions, and values.
Which is totally natural — so don’t sweat it. But if you want your business to grow in accordance to the organizational values you built it on, it’s important to take a step back every so often to see whether you’re sticking to what you set out to accomplish. No matter how close you are to doing that, you can improve by:
01. Recognizing employees who live your values
Let’s face it: when you work hard, at the very least, it feels good when people congratulate you on a job well done. On the flip side, when no one says anything about the fantastic work you’ve done, it’s at least a little off-putting.
Only 31% of employees feel strongly valued at work. By regularly recognizing your employees who exude your values every day, you’ll encourage other team members to try to shine similarly.
02. Letting your values drive business decisions
If, for example, your company prides itself on sustainability, don’t partner with an organization that is known for outsourcing to factories in countries that don’t have strict environmental regulations. Nobody likes hypocrites. Let your corporate values dictate the way your organization operates.
03. Creating traditions that align with your values
It’s one thing to write about how much your organization cares about the community on your About Us page. It’s a whole different thing to put those words into action. If you care about giving back to your community, for example, carve out a day each month — or a day each quarter — to allow your team to get out of the office to give back to those who need it. As an added bonus, your employees will bond, and as a result, they’ll be more productive when they return to the office.
04. Utilizing the latest technologies
Is your company forward thinking? Or are you perfectly OK with relying on legacy technology? If you’re managing a company of the future, it’s essential you make use of modern technology. Remember, because of the speed at which it evolves, your company’s technology needs will always be a work in progress. Never become complacent.
05. Fostering an inclusive and caring environment
By their nature in the corporate setting, values are communal. They’re not just a set of principles by which the manager abides. But you can’t expect your entire staff to be on board with your values if your organizational culture is one where folks mostly keep to themselves.
So encourage your team to talk to each other. Embrace cross-department collaboration whenever possible. Ask your employees what’s going on in their lives and, most importantly, listen to what they have to say.
06. Leading by example
Nobody likes a “do as I say not as I do” leader. When you stop to think about it, that’s not someone you’d want to work for either. Great leaders not only lay out clear specific goals for their employees and encourage them to meet them, but they also work harder than everyone else — and in a way that is very visible.
That’s not to say you should brag about all the projects you’re juggling at any given point in time. It means showing your employees you have their backs at all times. You also need to quickly give credit where it’s due — and take whatever blame for any misfortunes that may fall your company’s way.
07. Sharing your story, often
Modesty is a virtue. But when it comes to marketing your brand, you need to remember that we live in a fast-paced, mobile-driven world. There are over 1 billion websites, which means there’s no shortage of competitors competing for your customers’ attention.
So in today’s day and age, it’s essential that you share your organization’s story — early and often. When you do great things for your customers, ask them if they’re OK with you telling the world about it. When your company does an awesome thing for the community, don’t be shy about posting a couple of pictures on Instagram. Modesty is certainly a virtue, but the meaning of modesty has changed substantially over the last decade.
08. Creating a position that shows the importance of your values
Anyone can give lip service to anything. But as we’ve heard our whole lives, actions speak louder than words. To prove to your employees how much you care about adhering to your company values, create positions that prove it, e.g., a Chief Culture Officer, a Chief Happiness Officer, a Chief People Officer, or some variation thereof. Having such a position in the C-suite sends quite the message.
09. Soliciting feedback from your employees regularly
At the end of the day, who’s better than your employees to tell you whether your company is living by its values? Perhaps the easiest way to make sure your business reinforces its values is by regularly checking in with your staff to see what they have to say. Try leveraging a pulsing survey to gather anonymous employee feedback. And once you have access to the resulting data, you can take informed steps to ingrain your values even deeper into your organization.
In today’s business world, everyone’s plate is full. And it seems like at least one or two people throw another helping our way each week when we’re already stuffed. This, understandably, makes it harder to keep your company’s values top of mind. The good news is that by putting some of these pieces of advice into action, your company’s values will be further cemented into operations. And over time, you won’t have to spend much time thinking about whether your team is living your values — you’ll just know they are.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.