Are your non-negotiable published values driving behaviours in your business?  Or not?

What does your culture and your underlying values say about you and your business?  That is… the everyday, what is actually going on, behaviours – the ones that are making the most noise.

The first thing I do when I walk into businesses I work with is read their mission, vision and value statements that are displayed, beautifully framed for all to see.

It gives me an indication of what type of experience I can expect and whether there is an alignment between my beliefs and values and those of the business I am about to interact with.  Or, at least it should.

Four values I often see are:

  • Responsive
  • Proactive
  • Innovative
  • Integrity

So I would expect that these people would do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it.  I would also expect that they would make recommendations, be relevant, and offer innovative solutions for my particular needs.  And they would do it with care and honesty.

That is my take on these values… but would it be yours?  What would they mean to you and your experience with this business?  And how might these values influence how each team member behaves?  For example, consider “responsive” – Is being responsive acting today, tomorrow, next week?  And what about “integrity” – is integrity compromised if a business does not take responsibility for a lost order?

Values play such an important role in defining the culture of an organisation.  However, a list of words leaves way too much to individual interpretation.

Tip:  The single word should be accompanied with “and what that means is” and further extended with “and this is how it plays out in our organisation.”  This helps reinforce the meaning of the value as it applies to this particular culture, to this team, and their interaction with others.

Values cannot be limited to behaviour around the customer or client relationship.  There cannot be one set of values for the customer experience and another for the team and another for the managers and yet another for the owners. But how often do you see this?  The values must be non-negotiable without exception across all relationships and interactions.  Everyone in the organisation must walk and talk the values consistently and with conviction.

Tip:  When you are writing your value statements consider including an example of how each value may play out under both a customer and a team scenario.

I mentioned what I would expect to see from an “outsiders” point of view given the published values… but what would I expect to see “inside” the organisation. Given the values listed above, I would expect that everyone – owners, managers, team members – would do what they said they would do when they said they would do it.  I would see evidence of innovative processes and a culture that encourages and rewards the contribution of new ideas, and a better way of doing things.  There would be no overdue actions on the action sheets.  Excuses would not be accepted, everyone would be willing to take responsibility without fear of retribution, and honesty would prevail.  KPI’s would be set, measured, and monitored in a proactive way.

The listed values can add significant “value” to any organisation if they are actually driving behaviours, and are reflected in processes, policy, and actions and demonstrated daily.  Values add no value at all if they are merely words or assertions – in fact they can devalue the organisation because the people interacting become confused and disappointed when their experience is not what they were promised or expected.

Self Assess:

  • Is there any inconsistency in your business between your published values and those that are actually being played out?
  • And if there is, what are the consequences and why is this so?
  • Do you need to influence behaviours or do you need to change the values?
  • Do you cover your values in your induction process?
  • How often do you revisit your values with your team?
  • Who in your organisation is currently having the most influence over the culture of the workplace?

How did you rate?  I am always keen to hear your thoughts and feedback.  So please leave your comments.

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