World Values Day 2018 is Thursday 18th October. At their best, our personal values are the route to personal fulfilment and authentic leadership. Our organisational values can be the cultural compass that guides every business decision, providing clarity of the behaviour our people will passionately uphold. Every customer and employee will enjoy a consistently congruent experience. Ultimately leading to an organisation where customers and employees will offer their loyalty.
At their worst, organisational values are meaningless. A huge investment of time and money go into launching a set of company values that few people engage with. As a result they are largely ignored. Even worse, they demonstrate how incongruent the organisation is acting. (For example, a global brand who ‘put the community first’ then avoid paying the taxes that would otherwise benefit the community).
In fact research by Kouzes and Posner, authors of the global best seller The Leadership Challenge, found that ‘launching’ a set of company values alone led to a reduction in employee engagement. Leaders and Managers are unaware of the potential of using values to create engagement to impact performance and their bottom-line.
Here are three ways any organisation can begin making their existing values really work for them.
1. Make values about the cross-over
We all have things that are important to us. The things that bring us meaning, purpose and energy when we live into them. These are ours values. And our values are unique to everyone else. Our strongest relationships are built with people who have commonly shared values. The degree to which we relate to the person. In the same way, the degree to which we relate to the organisation we work for, comes from the values we share.
The same research by Kouzes and Posner found that when leaders and managers helped their people align their personal values with those of the organisation, engagement increased by 18%.
Before working out how our people can demonstrate their company values, we must help people understand their own values and where there is a match to those of our business. When we understand how what’s important me matches what’s important to my business, I connect to the cause and I am prepared to give a new level of discretionary effort.
The World Values Day 2018 website gives one easy way to help people understand their own values. You can check out their guide here.
2. Leaders must go first
Your team constantly looks to you to show them the way. Your actions are far more important than anything you say. Whether you realise it or not, your people are talking about how congruent your behaviour is in comparison to your company’s values. Every day. That is why there is no point in asking anyone in your business to behave or act in a certain way, until you are crystal clear how you already are living the company values.
How do you give your people this clarity?
- You talk routinely about how you attempt to live the company values
- You make, and then explain, every key decision in relation to these values
- You hold yourself to account when your actions clash with your values and ask your people to hold you to account too
- You also talk openly about key decisions you believe could be perceived as clashing with your values
- You reward and challenge the behaviours of anyone in the business whose behaviour is not aligned to your values. Starting with your highest performers and those with the highest profile
- You create opportunities for people to understand your own personal values and how you believe these match the organisation’s values. You talk about the cross-over.
3. Make values so important you hire by them
If values are really important, they should be the first consideration in the recruitment of every new employee. Why would we invite people into our organisation based solely on their experience or technical ability, then attempt to mould or force people to be passionate about the things we are most passionate about?
WD-40 is a great example. They make it clear their values are the heart and soul of the business. The very first question they ask a prospective employee is ‘Do our values resonate with you?’. They make it clear, if they don’t then please do not apply. Above anything else, their values are so important that whatever else they have to offer comes second.
Not yet capitalising on your values?
If you are interested in creating, or using, your values to create engaged high-performance, you can:
- Explore the World Values Day website here
- Watch our video series on TwentyOne’s Narrative Pathways on how to align your approach to strategy, culture and brand
- Get in touch to continue the conversation with firstname.lastname@example.org