We are hearing a lot about company values lately. There are a variety of reasons, but ultimately, it's about the company taking control of their values. Company values have always been there, but if you are not paying attention to them, you might find the values you have are not the values you want. You need to be intentional about your values in order to ensure those values are shared and lived out in your work life.
Your very first step is to figure out what values you want for your company. You need to work with your senior leadership team as this is something that needs to come top down. There are any number of programs that will get you what you want. My team used Traction by Gino Wickman.
One part of Traction is looking at the People in your organization and the seats they sit in (I've written about this in the past). As part of the process, we went through an exercise talking about the current employees we would clone if we could and what qualities they had that made us select them. As a team, we discussed the employees and came to an agreement on the qualities we want to be emulated.
Once you have your values, you need to work to communicate those values to your employees. It's not enough to hang these new values up on the wall and expect everyone to just fall in line. So what can you do?
Here are my top 8 ways to communicate your values to your staff:
1. Put the words in writing.
Add them to your email signature, to your newsletters, the bottom of your presentations. We have a monthly newsletter we send to all staff with an update for our department. We include the values at the top and bottom of the newsletter and I encourage the directors to use these words when writing their updates. It may feel forced at first, but as you get into the habit, you will find yourself using your value words easily in your everyday life.
2. Review your job postings.
Take special notice how these values are shown throughout the posting. Use these words in your job postings with a direct line to how the job fits into those values. (Check out my post about writing effective job descriptions to help you!)
3. Review your interview process.
Add questions that will both share with the candidate that these are your values and allow you to determine if the candidate shares these values. For example, if one of your core values is “Respect,” you may want to include a question such as “Describe a time you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you handled it to maintain a respectful working environment.” Or if you have a core value of Accountable, perhaps you would ask all candidates “What kind of system or method are you currently using for reporting progress on your work?”
4. Review your evaluations.
Are you sharing these values during the evaluation process? Update your evaluations to include your values, verbatim so it is clear to your employees that you are serious about these values.
5. Talk to your supervisors.
Get their ownership of the values. Share with them as part of the leadership team (especially if you have a lot of layers in your organization). When they take ownership of these values, they will reinforce the message and accountability of these values.
6. Apply the values to your daily life.
Are you emulating the values you profess to share? If Trust is one of your values, are you trustworthy? Are you extending trust to others? This is probably the most difficult part. As a leader, you need to lead by example when it comes to the Core Values you are hoping to impart to your employees. I know I struggle with this. One of our values is Knowledgeable. To continue to encourage our employees to learn more, we encourage membership in local, state and national professional organizations. We pay for staff to attend conferences, lunch and learns or other educational opportunities of their choosing to help them grow as a professional.
7. Talk about the values at employee meetings.
You've already added them to your presentation template, but take time to explain to your employees why you decided that these are your values. If you don't already have a regular all staff meeting, plan one. My department hosts an annual town hall meeting, we serve pancakes and give a short presentation on where our department and organization are headed in the next year. You don't have to have a fancy or expensive get together. We chose pancakes because pancakes are easy to make and you can watch the leadership team making breakfast as you walk in.
8. Have patience.
Not everyone will get on board with your values, and some may not believe that you believe in them. You need to have a consistent, constant message of these values. Changes will not happen overnight, but it will slowly sink in as you promote and reinforce your values over time. Don't give up if it doesn't seem to be working at first, have patience and keep working at it until the results start showing
By communicating your values to your employees and aligning your expectations of them with your company values, you will help them develop the qualities important to your company's vision and success. If you haven't taken time to determine your values and communicate them with staff, you are not in control of the values of your organization. Take control of your values. Communicate them. Live them. For more help on establishing your company values and developing your employees, setup a meeting with one of our specialists.
Wendy Dailey is an HR Business Partner in South Dakota. With almost 20 years of experience in human resources, she has worked in a variety of industries including construction, airlines, banking, and healthcare. Wendy is active in her local SHRM group, DisruptHR and in the #HRTribe on Twitter. She is co-host of the #HRSocialHour podcast and twitter chat. Wendy was named to the 2018 SHRM blogging team and writes for Workology, Prosky and on her Personal Blog: My Dailey Journey
In her spare time, Wendy enjoys spending time with her family and leading her daughters’ Girl Scout troops Connect with Wendy on Twitter.