When was the last time you or your team talked about your organization’s core values?

Let’s focus on the importance of keeping those concepts front and center so that they are witnessed consistently and clearly by employees.

According to MIT Sloan, more than 80% of large American corporations publish their official corporate values, but a Gallup survey found that only 20% of employees strongly agree their coworkers are committed to their organization’s cultural values.

Even the most basic dot-connection tells us that when it comes to core values, many companies are not walking the talk.

Values set the stage for how employees interact, internally as well as externally. Posting them on office walls can serve as a reminder, but failing to consistently model the values in a way that’s easy for employees to observe could send a message that they’re not taken seriously.

In other words, saying that values matter won’t make them matter. Only the alignment of words and actions can do that.

According to Sashkin (2012) and Sashkin and Rosenbach (2013), shared values and beliefs are one of the five key value dimensions that make organizations function well (NIH), and Gallup cites values and rituals as one of the five drivers behind an organization’s identity. So it’s an effort worth making.

If you haven’t talked about your organization’s values in a while, you might want to start by asking your team for feedback on the current state of things. Here are some questions to help facilitate a discussion:

  • What do our core values mean to you?
  • How are they reflected in your day-to-day work?
  • In what way is our organization living up to them and/or not living up to them?
  • How can we improve?
  • Do any seem outdated or irrelevant?
  • Are there any new values that should be considered?

This can be a powerful exercise in enlisting employee voices and building team bonds. It may also shed light on blind spots and lead to productive discussions that not only rekindle a connection with the values but also create a ripple effect across functions and teams.

As a leader, it is critically important to consistently model the organization’s values in all of your actions and communications so that you serve as a model for your team as well as your peers. You also want to normalize the process of asking for feedback from your team about how you’re doing in this regard and how you can improve. Encourage your team to integrate values into their daily work, and be sure to recognize and celebrate instances when they do.
If any of this seems like too big a leap, it may be a good time to offer training or a workshop to help employees understand the importance of core values to foster a shared understanding and re-spark commitment.

And any instance in which an organization’s values are compromised must be immediately and transparently addressed. If such situations are ignored, it can erode trust and undermine credibility. Even in the absence of compromised values, core values should be periodically revisited to ensure they remain relevant and meaningful.

If you would like to talk about how I can help your team re-connect to your organization’s values, schedule a complimentary discovery call here.

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