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Friday, February 28, 2020

C-Suite Advisory

Ditch the Values Posters – 8 Ways to Bring Your Company Values to Life

Blurred employees in company

If Culture eats Strategy for breakfast, I’d say your Values may eat your Vison for brunch.

Values are an integral part of an organisation’s culture. Your Values ideally should be the guiding principles in which everyone in your company behave, serve their customers and achieve your Vision.

I have supported organisations that live their values and companies that don’t live their values; those that are so far removed from their values that they are swept under the carpet. I will discuss the latter first.

More about the organisation that sweeps their Values under the carpet:

The Issue: People either don’t know the company’s values OR don’t like them.

Blurred employees in company

The Potential Reasons:

  • Your staff weren’t included in creation of your Values. In my experience, the Values that are most successful are the ones which have been co-created; people feel a sense of shared ownership, pride and belonging.
  • Your Values relate to the external facing elements of the company (how you will serve your customers) rather than the internal facing elements of the company (how one is expected to act.)
  • Your Values are not in your (the CEO, Leaders and HR Team’s vernacular.) If you’re not living your Values, why should anyone else?
  • Your Values are too wordy or too simple – yes, a dichotomy there. Either way, your Values are not sitting well with your employees. If your Values are too wordy they won’t be memorable. If your Values are too simple, they may come across as patronising.
  • Your Values posters are all over the place but they’re still not being applied.

So, what to do?

Blurred employees in company

8 Ways to Bring Your Company Values to Life: The Success Stories:

I have had the pleasure of supporting companies that live, apply and own their Values, and here is what I have seen work. Consider if you have done the below for your company:

  1. You had an official launch and roll out of your Values (led by the CEO) followed by interactive workshops on how each team applies the Values in their roles (ideally facilitated by the Organisational Development / HR Team or an external specialist.) Each team and person therefore understand the Values and see how it applies to them.
  2. Your Values are at the forefront of your recruitment. Yes recruitment; recruiting to your Values allows you to recruit for the right culture fit. Then your Values should be reinforced in your induction to new staff.
  3. Your Leaders and your HR Team live the Values. (Simple.) Your Values are in your the CEO, Leaders and HR Team’s spoken and written communications as well as being evident in the way they operate. This has a trickledown effect.
  4. Business decisions are made based on your Values (as well as the usual factors such as cost, time, resourcing and being evidence informed etc.)
  5. Your Values are in your Performance and Development Plan (PDP.) Some organisations go even further and rate employees against how they lived the Values in their PDP at the end of the cycle. Some go one more step and link compensation (bonuses) to the ratings. Some organisations are in fact moving towards the behavioural aspect of reviewing employees in how they meet their key performance indicators. We’ve all learnt from Enron’s tale of two cultures. If you haven’t heard about Enron, google the words “Enron Values.”
  6. You have quarterly staff awards for those who go over and beyond your Values. Recognising your star performers against your Values reinforces expectations and rewards the right people. (It doesn’t need to cost a lot or be complicated, I have a simple process for this.)
  7. You develop your leaders continually and link your Values to it; whether it be via stretch targets on the role, in training sessions where you share your Values with the facilitator or via coaching your Executive team plus established and emerging leaders.
  8. Last, but definitely not least: If people don’t live true to your Values, you do something about it.

Ditch plastering posters of your Values around the place in the hope the message will stick.

  • Live your Values.
  • Apply your Values.
  • Own your Values.

Here’s to happy employees, formidable leaders and good company cultures!


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Prina Shah
Prina Shah is a leadership and culture specialist and founder of Prina Shah Consulting. Prina supports CEOs, Leaders and HR Teams develop themselves and their company cultures. Prina has 18+ years’ in-house management experience in Culture Change, Organisational / Leadership Development, Human Resources and Change Management for companies within the not for profit, government, utilities, small business and private sectors around the world. Prina provides practical tools that you can put into practice to develop yourself and your company culture. Prina Shah is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.
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