Developing a high-performing company starts with defining its organizational core values – the actions and behaviors essential to the organization’s success. To do this successfully, you must engage your employees in a series of conversations about what it means to be a values-driven organization, what behaviors support the core values, and how important employees are in the daily realization of the core values.
Here are some techniques we use in aligning employees around organizational core values.
- First, we use employee forums to engage everyone in a discussion about the organization’s values. Managers, supervisors and employees get a chance to discuss the core values and explore what they mean and what behaviors are most important to supporting them. Customer service, reliability, and financial sustainability are three examples of core values that every company needs to explore. We spend time brainstorming and then narrowing the core values.
- Second, we work with the senior management team to develop a list of “we statements” that everyone agrees are the behaviors most critical to supporting the core values. This process can take several iterations as the team refines the “we statements.”
- The next step is to get a baseline measurement of how well the organization is doing in upholding the core values and “we statements.” Internally, a survey goes to all employees. Externally, customers and other constituents are surveyed. The results of that assessment should be communicated broadly.
- Next, the executive team should commit to regularly taking the pulse of the organization. Over time, these regular assessments will provide a rich picture of where the organization is doing well – and where it can improve.
- To deepen the alignment around the core values, we make sure that employee recruitment, orientation, training and promotion are tied to them. People get regular orientation and training on the core values. People who demonstrate alignment are promoted over others.
- Finally, we retool the company’s performance appraisal system so that it is aligned with the core values and we statements. That cements the pieces together, creating an integrated system of communication and performance measurement that assures continued attention is placed on the core values.
Those are the ways we align people around organizational core values. Above all, it means creating a culture in which the core values truly live in the organization – not simply as words on paper, but on a day-to-day basis in people’s hearts and minds.