Just because your company has a list of values, it doesn’t mean they’re useful. To be effective, they need to inform every part of your organization — from top-level executives to new hires, in daily production and annual goals.
Guide the Business
As a leader, it’s up to you to ensure that the company’s business decisions are guided by your stated values. This can mean making some tough choices and being unable to take the easy way out.
Say a customer wants a new invoicing option. It’s not a bad idea, but your current system works fine. What do you do? If one of your values is “embrace change,” like TINYpulse, then your choice is clear: you try something new and see what you can get out of it.
Whenever you’re making a decision that affects the company’s operation, make your values part of the discussion and check to see that everything the company does supports them. Only when you demonstrate commitment on the company level will individual employees join the effort.
Hire and Fire
Bring values into your hiring process. List your values in your job postings and ask about them in interviews. If one of your core values is “embrace change,” consider asking, “What do you do when your priorities change quickly?” If a candidate can show you that they live your company values, then you’ll know they can do the same as part of your team.
Once employees are hired, bring them on board with the values. When applicable, give them the same training experience. For example, Zappos makes sure all new hires get the same understanding about the importance of customer service by training them all to take customer calls. It reinforces the idea that values are not just used some of the time by some parts of the organization — everyone is expected to work for them.
And if an employee’s behaviors or actions aren’t aligned with the organization’s values, then talk to them about it. Make sure they understand what the company’s expectations are for them. Ultimately, if they cannot get behind the values, then it’s time to let them go. An employee who is always at cross-purposes with the rest of the organization will neither help the company nor be engaged in their job.
Take It Outside
Living your values doesn’t just involve what goes on inside your company’s walls. If your list of values includes ideas like giving back, being socially responsible, or connecting with the community, then your work extends to the world around you.
Company-sponsored volunteerism is a perfect way to enact these values. Set aside a work day each quarter to have your employees work on a group volunteering project. It ensures that the work becomes embedded in your culture and identity.
What’s more, UnitedHealth Group found that 65% of employees have strengthened their relationship with coworkers through volunteering. So while you’re helping the community, you’re also doing good for your organizational culture.
Actions speak louder than words. Take actions that make your organizational values a reality. Words posted on the wall or listed on your website aren’t where your values come from — it’s in the everyday actions and choices of each member of your company. It takes effort to make your organizational values a foundation of your company, but when you do, you’ll be rewarded with everything they have to offer.