Engage Your Employees With Authentic Values
Has your company defined its values? Developing a set of values that your company abides by is a powerful way to create a workforce that is focused and engaged.
Company values are statements of principle that guide all the actions and decisions of a company and deeply influences its culture. When implemented well, they can truly set an organization apart from its competitors. Whether you have values already or are just beginning to define them, here are a range of areas and tips to include when applying your company values.
It can’t be stressed enough that executives and team leaders must be fully on board with the stated values. Why? If the company leaders do not follow the company values, no one will. Instead, you will have simply produced an exercise in cynicism and disillusionment for your employees.
Take this real example from Patrick Lencioni: “… a CEO of a technology company agreed to let the HR department spearhead a values campaign. When HR suggested, after many meetings and surveys, that collaboration should be one of the company’s core values, he agreed without much thought. But just a few weeks later, while chairing an open meeting with managers, he completely disavowed this value by saying, ‘I don’t really believe in teams; I believe that achievement occurs when individuals work independently.’ It’s no wonder managers felt baffled and disappointed. As a senior executive who eventually left the organization explains: ‘The gap between what we were saying and what we were doing was just too great.’”
Company leaders cannot simply pay lip service to the values either. They must model them in their actions and decisions, and support their team members to follow the company values even when it is hard, painful, or detrimental to the bottom line.
Your recruiters must be upfront and consistent about the values of the company throughout the hiring process. This can look like this:
- Displaying and explaining the values on your company website.
- Including the values in what you are looking for in job descriptions.
- Asking candidates to recall times when they have demonstrated the values in past roles.
It’s okay if a candidate doesn’t fit the values perfectly from the get-go, provided they show a willingness to take them on.
Onboarding is a key moment to introduce new team members to your company’s values. Taking place over the first few weeks or months, onboarding is about truly integrating a new hire into your team so they don’t just know how to check their email, they also fully embody what your company is about (and if they don’t, let them go). If you haven’t already, try incorporating an element of online training into your onboarding process. With an online training course, you can incorporate a wide range of real, powerful stories about how people at your company have lived out the company values.
Stories are incredibly powerful for teaching new concepts. Try recording audio or video clips of members of your team recounting moments when someone followed the company values, and why it was so important. This will not just be powerful, but also authentic and meaningful. At the end of your course, you can check how well your new hire has understood the company values by asking them to respond to different scenarios in a quick assessment.
Introducing the company’s values during onboarding is usually easy. Ongoing reinforcement is much harder, yet critically important. Online training can play an important role here too. Online courses are around three times faster to complete than face-to-face workshops with the same content. Therefore, they can be ideal for quick refreshers for your long-term employees on your company values year-to-year.
This doesn’t need to be a wooden spoon exercise. Instead, use it as a moment to celebrate the company’s commitment to your values. Capture and share new stories and examples each year. It’s important to show examples at all levels of the company, from the executives to the front desks.
Rewards And Recognition
Employees who embody the company’s values and follow them, especially when it’s hard, must be recognized and rewarded. There are many ways to go about this, such as:
- Employee recognition software.
- A company Slack channel for #shoutouts.
- Specific quarterly, biannual or annual awards.
- Thank you gifts.
- Promotions, or a step up in responsibilities.
There are also many ways to recognize and reward employees that may be specific to the values themselves that you can take advantage of.
Performance Management And Dismissal
Tolerating employees who flout the company values will never go unnoticed, and will quickly destroy the integrity of the values. Therefore, such behavior should be quickly and firmly addressed with a clear and appropriate system. It is wise to incorporate your company values into any dismissal policies you have, so that, should an employee need to be let go, you have a formal framework to work from.
Creating and implementing a successful set of company values is not for the faint of heart. Yet it can also be a deeply rewarding project that transforms your company and sets it on the path to enduring success.