Company values: communication

In the last post, we discussed the definition of values and why they are important. However, creating values is not enough; they won’t make sense if you don’t communicate and use them correctly.

Now, let’s explore how to make your values resonate with your people—something crucial for your company culture and the employee experience.

Step 1 – Start with the Leadership Team

It’s crucial to align leadership with core values to maintain credibility. Engage your leadership team and department heads in discussions about the significance of core values within their specific departments. Encourage them to share tangible examples of how employees in their teams have exemplified these values.

Organize workshops for team-building, involving upper management, department heads, and team leaders. These sessions serve as a platform to breathe life into your values, enabling managers to recognize real-life instances within their teams.

Additionally, emphasize the importance of visibly demonstrating these values within the leadership team. For instance, if diversity is a core value, ensure that it’s reflected in your upper management. If caring for employees is a priority, appoint department heads who prioritize employee welfare. Lastly, don’t forget the human touch—show compassion in your leadership approach.

Step 2 – Identify areas in the business that already demonstrate your values in action

Before advancing to this stage, make sure the groundwork is laid in the initial step, building support from upper management, department heads, and team leaders. Recognition of core values in action hinges on their buy-in.

Within your team, individuals may embody core values, such as “taking personal ownership” and “teamwork.” For example, an employee addressing an issue independently while involving others showcases initiative and collaboration. Identifying and acknowledging such instances is key.

Encourage managers to initiate recognition programs aimed at spotting and celebrating examples aligning with core values. Recognition can extend to individuals, projects, or processes. Celebrate these accomplishments through various means, be it rewards or company-wide acknowledgments, clearly articulating how they embody a core value.

Recognizing these instances and celebrating them collectively fosters a positive atmosphere. Encourage widespread participation in these programs, inspiring the entire organization to identify and celebrate instances where core values shine, promoting a sense of teamwork and shared success.

Step 3 – Hire the right candidates

Now that your leaders and the entire organization understand your values, the next step is hiring individuals who align with these core values.

Revise job descriptions to explicitly mention core values, attracting candidates who resonate with your company’s culture.

For example, if “ingenuity” is a core value, seek candidates showcasing creativity and adaptability. Craft interview questions to explore how candidates have demonstrated these values in past experiences.

Be transparent about your values in the hiring process. Aligning hires with your core values is crucial for fostering a culture they’ll enjoy, reducing the risk of early turnover.

Step 4 – Ensure your values are echoed across your onboarding

Onboarding typically includes company values, but to give them meaning, provide explanations and tangible examples, similar to your management workshops.

Offer role-specific examples to make it easy for new hires to envision embodying core values in their daily work. This approach is not only beneficial for new staff but can also be repeated for long-term employees.

Repeating this training for existing employees ensures everyone stays connected to the organizational culture, preventing loyal team members from feeling left behind and fostering a sense of inclusion. Avoid the risk of losing great, longstanding employees due to a disconnect with the evolving organizational culture.

Step 5 – Adjust your performance review process

While maintaining your existing performance indicators, consider dedicating one KPI to a goal related to a core value. For instance, if “adaptiveness” is a core value and an employee tends to stick to their routine, task them with learning a new skill and incorporating it into their role.

Ensure that all KPIs are tangible examples. Instead of vague directives like “show adaptiveness,” set tasks that align with specific actions you believe the employee can excel at. If appropriate, share outstanding examples of core values in action with the wider team.

Step 6 – Check your internal communications messaging

Typically, company communications can include newsletters or emails, posters, team meetings, or team-building exercises.

Your company’s core values should ring through all of your communication channels. They may not be explicit, but they should be identifiable.

Begin the process of auditing your internal communications messaging. Is it clear and consistent, and does it reflect at least one of your company’s values?

Step 7 – Create new activities

At this stage, everyone in your organization should have a clear idea of aspirational values and the company’s mission. To embed these values in your culture, use an employee engagement strategy.

Incentivize employees to emphasize values through suggested activities or their ideas. For instance, in regular internal podcasts, an employee might propose interviews with colleagues embodying values.

Run contests for stories showcasing cultural values. Ensure core values are reflected in policies and procedures.

Encourage ownership among employees. Let them interpret value statements in ways that resonate. Strong core values should be flexible for meaningful interpretation.

Step 8 – Encourage feedback

In every organization, there will be cynical and dispirited employees. Rather than disregarding their opinions, aim to include them and potentially learn something valuable.

Run pulse surveys about your core values across your organization, encouraging feedback from all employees, including those who wouldn’t usually contribute. Ensure these surveys are accessible and distributed widely.

Ask employees for ideas and listen to the thoughts of all team members, whether naturally enthusiastic about your values or not.

Once you’ve gathered the data, make sure to implement some of the ideas you’ve heard and let the team know. This action will help employees feel valued and engaged.

Step 9 – Be open and transparent

Many organizations create core values but do little to integrate them into their teams. Aligning core values with your team enhances company culture and employee engagement.

Don’t hesitate to openly discuss and encourage a dialogue about your values. If someone questions the authenticity, investigate the reason. It might not be the value itself but an issue encountered in their workday, be it a policy, procedure, or colleague’s actions.

Promote transparency by recognizing values across the organization and encourage the leadership team to incorporate them into daily communication. Top-down adherence often influences organizational behavior, fostering an environment where employees feel safe and encouraged to openly discuss values in their development sessions.

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