The purpose of organizational values is NOT to decorate the walls or to create new trinkets to hand out to employees. Clear and well-understood values create a framework that enhances personal and organizational performance.
The value of values is multifold. First, they improve consistency in decision making. Second, they provide boundaries and set expectations about behavior and what is or is not acceptable. Finally, during times of change, values serve as lighthouses to guide people in a positive direction.
Three Steps to Values:
- Define – keep it simple and determine what differentiates your organization from others. For example, honesty is a value that should be universal, so it’s not a differentiator. Less is more; 3 – 5 values concisely written using compelling words are best.
- Align – stated values (what you say) must match operating values (what you do.) We’ve observed many organizations that are out of alignment and do not receive the benefits from the values they invested time in defining.
- Reinforce – stories and examples are essential to proactively reinforce the meaning of values. Recognize and reward behaviors that support values. You get more of what you celebrate, so intentionally reinforce the demonstration of values.
High performing organizations (and people) know what they believe and incorporate it into everything they do. Everyone, from top to bottom understands and acts according to these core values.
If you do not have well defined, operational values we encourage you to make the time to define them. If you have values in place, do an annual assessment to determine whether they are aligned and reinforced.