Visit a selection of company websites and you’ll bump in to a page that presents their core values.
They might have icons, words, an acronym or even a picture, but they will present their values.
Over the past decade my team and I have been asked to assist organisations from schools, through SME’s to the global big hitters to help them define their vision and values. In essence to help facilitate a healthy discussion around how they are going to navigate their success. Some organisations have values but no vision, others have a vision and no values whilst some have neither and run their business day by day trying to pay bills and keep their customers happy.
Do your people know the Values?
I recall one global organisation we were asked to assist with the remit of helping their navigation and so I showed the senior managers a selection of vision statements and values that I had researched from a range of corporate websites. Some were provocative, some were boring and others were vague and meaningless. Finally I showed them a statement and value set and asked the same question “What do you think about this”?
They were fairly impressed and it did seem to be one of the better ones from the selection I had offered. They asked which company had this vision statement and values set and I replied “You do”!
They were shocked to know they had a vision and a set of values and that they were displayed on one of their web pages. It was fair to say that nobody actually knew they were associated with their company and therefore nobody was using them as a guiding philosophy.
What are values, what do they mean and do they really matter?
Once you have a vision (an aspirational position set at a point in time that you want to arrive at) your values are what define you and your organisation. They are the guiding principles that bind the different individuals and teams that work there and they inform how the people are meant to behave if the organisation is to achieve the clearly defined (and understood) vision.
Values are only useful if they exist in the organisation and everyone lives by them with integrity.
I challenge you right now to visit 5 companies you know. These should be well known organisations that are bound to have a set of values. I’m going to put my neck on the line here and say that at least 4 if not 5 of these 5 with have the word ‘Integrity’ somewhere in their value set.
Integrity is NOT a Value!
Integrity itself is not a value, but a super value. If you have little or no integrity then you don't live by your values.
We have quizzed many an audience to define what integrity actually is. There is often an association with honesty and trust, but a simple and effective definition of ‘Integrity’ is
“Doing what you say you’re going to do, even when you’re not being watched”
Too many organisation's talk the talk as it seems trendy to have a set of core values that are plastered all over the company website.
Why are values so important to your workforce?
Do people really care about values in the organisation they work for? Do they look for values based organisations when they are searching for a place to work? If we were in a climate where jobs were scarce then it might be fair to say that many employees on the labour market would jump at a chance to get a job. But the truth is that we are in a buoyant labour market where organisations are looking for good people to join their growing team. It’s no secret that the British government is working towards creating greater opportunities for young people to get in to the job market and secure a self-sustainable future.
I refer to an article in the London Evening Standard on 13th September where recent figures show that Millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) will make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020. To engage with this emerging workforce research suggests that they want to feel like their values align with those of their organisation. They seek education as they join organisations to learn as much as they can implement what they have learned. They want real time feedback not annual appraisals and they want to give feedback as well as receive it. So does your organisation promote and live by values that attract this workforce and then enable engagement and retention?
To really live by these values there are a few key steps you can take to maximise on your success rate.
Your 5 to Thrive
1. Definition - Don't just pick words that sound good, or you think your clients want to hear or see. Really get under the skin of the organisation and understand WHY you do what you do. Remember integrity is not a value, but a super value, a way of living your real values. You can involve as many people as you want in the creation of your values. The more agreement the greater the compliance and the greater the genuine belief in what you do.
2. Don't go crazy! - An excessive amount of values can become confusing and dilute the real essence of who you are. 3 - 6 is a good number. In one of our Leadership Academy modules we give delegates a list of 50 values and ask them to select the 10 that resonate with them (personally). Then narrow these to their top 5. This is difficult as many of them are important to many people. This is the secret to finalising your core values... The ones that are at your core not ones you like.
3. Go for Launch - Unveil your values presenting them to your internal and external stakeholders with pride and conviction. Describe what they mean to your audience and how you plan to embed them in to your culture. Two defining actions that enable growth are Transparency and Consistency. Your core values should be transparent to all and they should be lived consistently, not just when you remember. They should form the DNA of your organisation and your vision, strategies and behaviours should all revolve around these core values.
4. Alignment - Ensure your organisational practices are in-line with your values. How do you recruit, induct, develop, promote, recognise and reward aligned to your values? If you want people to live these values ensure they understand what they are and how they are expected to behave in-line with these values. Consider running a series of workshops to enable everyone to understand and live them.
5. Role Modelling - Remember behaviour breeds behaviour so your senior team must demonstrate how to live these values in all their dealings. This will take time to adjust, but adherence is key with repetition at the heart of habit formation. School staff should live their school values if they want their children to live them also. The CEO must abide by the behaviours that live the core values if he/she is serious about the benefits of having values in the organisation. Hypocrisy is a cardinal sin of all management practice and almost always results in a 'Them and Us' mind set and dilutes the potential performance of the whole organisation. There really is no excuse for this in any organisation.
To learn more about how Expressions can assist you and your organisation visit our website at www.expressionspartnership.com or send us an enquiry
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