5 ways to ensure your organisation lives its values
‘Living ones values should be seen as the development of a system that allows an organisation to grow from the bottom up as well as from the top down’
If understood, values can be one of the most powerful driving forces behind organisational change and a harmonious culture. Many organisations that falter highlight losing site of their values as one of the key reasons why they have gone down the wrong path.
There is a growing understanding within the business community that organisations who live their values have an advantage over those that do not. Whether it comes to staff retention or customer loyalty, living your values is an essential trait of the modern business with definable rewards.
But how exactly can you do it? Here are my five top tips to ensure that your organisation lives its values.
1 Measure your values
The saying goes that ‘if you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it’ [apparently Peter Drucker may (or may not have) said this]. Whilst I don’t think that managing values is the ultimate aim, measuring stakeholders’ perceptions of your values is key to appreciating what work needs to be done to help turn your values from statements into living breathing thoughts and actions.
At the very least an organisation should measure its values once per year, taking a holistic look at its stakeholders, both internally and externally with a view to having a complete picture.
2 Communicate your values
Yes values are important but they are yet another thing an employee needs to remember. Creating a memorable communication campaign that reinforces your core values is a key tool in ensuring your values are lived on a daily basis.
Communicating values can be simple – in fact the simpler the better. It’s about distilling very abstract concepts into a form that is easily understood and remembered.
3 Embed your values
For values to be successful they need to be embedded into an organisation and used as a benchmark as well as a goal – the question is how? Values that are embedded into organisations are seen within management reviews and are the catalyst for business plans. Values have the ability to drive purpose [and vice versa depending on what school of thought you’re from] and the modern organisation with purpose is the one that will survive and thrive.
Think, how are your values incorporated into appraisals and business plans? Are they the starting point for your processes and strategies or are they an afterthought?
4 Develop the right mindset for your values
Having the right mindset allows for the right values to be lived within the workplace. Without the right mindset ambiguity can set in. For example, there’s no point in having a set of values that promote community amidst an atmosphere of mistrust. At best it simply won’t work, at worst it will undo all of the values analysis and embedding that has gone on before.
Question – is there an overarching mindset that can be adopted that will reinforce your values?
5 Develop the right behaviours to live your values
Values drive behaviour in the same way that behaviour evidences values. Behaviours of course will differ depending on someones’ job role within an organisation. To help values be lived an organisation should have a set of overarching behaviours that lead to positive affirmation of the values and then a set of specific behaviours linked to a particular role or job function that echo the overarching behaviours. The trick is to ensure that the overarching behaviours are understood so that the secondary behaviours can be developed organically by each employee.
Each of these five points are linked. Communicating without measuring is wasteful and trying to ensure the right behaviours are adopted without understanding the mindset of your organisation isn’t going to work very well.
The main point is that living ones values should be seen as the development of a system that allows an organisation to grow from the bottom up as well as from the top down. It won’t be possible to monitor every action and why would you want to? By nurturing a culture that can ultimately develop its own systems in tune to your values, you will have facilitated the growth of an organisation that has the capacity to live its values.