At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we help progressive leaders bring to life their organisation’s core values in the workplace. For a business to succeed, it’s essential for all employees to be invested, engaged and understand the company’s ethos or core values. The more embedded the values are, the more empowered and confident employees feel and this increases levels of commitment.
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Roy E. Disney
Core values are not just a set of ‘nice to have’ words. Instead, they are your company’s deeply ingrained principles that drive everything it does internally and externally. Unless this is the case, they are not really your values. We say that “Values are for living not laminating” and when this happens, with everybody working towards the same goals, we know that remarkable results can be achieved.
So, what can you do to promote values driven leadership in the workplace? In this article, we look at some of how SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL believes you can do this.
Your Unique Essence
If you look at the values of many organizations, you will find the same old values words: Respect, Integrity, Customer-focussed etc. Many values statements are bland, uninspiring, or just do not resonate with our personal experience of the company. And this can be highly damaging because empty values statements turn off employees and customers and undermine the credibility of the organisation’s leaders. Ask yourself “What are the characteristics that define your organization when it is at its best?” and “What sets your organization apart from others?”.
Short and Memorable
Your core values need to be succinct and easy to remember. Your employees shouldn’t need to refer to a piece of paper to remember what they are. However, they also need to mean something and resist the temptation to use a forced acronym. We recommend that you keep them to a maximum of five and ensure they are fully defined. Here at SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, our values represent everything we do.
Top Down AND Bottom Up
Employees need to experience the organization working in a values-driven way. They need to see, hear and feel that everyone from the top down embraces the company culture and values. Your core values should be consciously reflected on and acted upon in all your business strategies, plans and decisions.
Your values-driven leadership team needs to incorporate core values in their day-to-day language with their teams. By doing this, your leadership team is embodying the organisation’s values. If your leadership team doesn’t visibly embrace and communicate your core values, how can you expect other employees to do the same? And it is important to remember that leaders’ behaviour is more in the spotlight the more senior they are. We call this the leadership shadow and it can have a positive or negative impact. What shadows do your organization’s leaders cast? But leaders usually represent a small proportion of the total number of employees in the organization, so it is important to inspire every person to bring the organization’s values to life… every day. We think of this pincer movement as values steered by the leadership team and powered by the frontline employees.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
From recruitment and onboarding, team meetings, performance reviews, and team events, your core values and company culture need to be lived by everyone in the business. Use the full range of internal and external facing communications tools to convey your values message. This includes your website, social media sites, intranet, staff magazine, internal comms tools, recruitment and onboarding materials and exit materials too. At every point of the journey with your company, employees should understand what the core values are and how to live them at work.
Recognition and Correction
Recognition is a powerful way to reinforce the desired behaviours. One way of doing this is to encourage regular ‘shout outs’ when employees are demonstrating the organisation’s values in their behaviour. There could be monthly awards or even a prestigious annual company event based on your core values and voted on by peers. They can be a strong motivating factor for teams and individuals and they also create the values stories or heritage of the organisation.
Equally, when behaviour happens or decisions are taken which are not in line with the core values, it is important for this to be called out and action taken. If this is not done, the tacit approval (silent consent and acceptance) can seem harmless initially but in time result in major, sometimes irreparable damage.
Of course, some people are more senior than others in an organisation but when it comes to living the organisation’s values, everybody can play a leadership role, irrespective of their title and position. You can also establish a team of Values Ambassadors across the business who operationalise the values and encourage individuals to challenge situations where core values are not being met. We recommend that these people are a mix of those who are highly visible or connected in the organisation and are a good cross representation.
Employees that are engaged with your business and embrace your core values are more motivated, happier and less likely to leave. According to research by Qualtrics® Employee PulseTM, only 50% of the UK workforce is engaged at work, compared with 55% in the USA and France. Not only that, but companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.
End to End Values
Ensure all your recruitment materials include core values statements and that at the interview process, you include core-values based questions. The values can also be incorporated in your performance process, influence meeting behaviours and guide decisions about internal promotions – if you promote an individual whose actions and attitudes don’t reflect your company’s values, it sends a powerful and harmful message to your workforce.
Before We Go
Your core values are your company DNA and your only true differentiator. Your employees are your organisation and their behaviour and decisions determine how your organisation is perceived by others. Think of your values as the organisation’s guiding North star. They also need to be relatable and employees need to know what behaviour they translate into – this is where we use the award-winning 31Practices approach. By communicating the values through every part of your company’s being, the values, employees and organisation become one. At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we can help you define your core values and bring them to life in your workplace to achieve higher employee engagement, customer loyalty and sustained profitability. Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you.