Jun 29
Leadership team discussing core values

How do I bring our organizational core values to life? 6 tips to make it happen.

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I have supported countless organizations in the development and deployment of strategy over the years. One of our final exercises in this process is the development and rollout of core values. This is where we often see executives often push back at this point saying these are not important – they are just fluff. Core values are the DNA of your company’s culture. The fact is every company has a culture, you can intentionally define it, or it allows others to do it for you.  

History highlights many infamous corporate failures attributed to a lack of execution of the organization’s core values. These organizations had strong values on paper, however failed miserably at embedding them into the culture.  A few examples include Enron, Lehman Brothers, Delta, Uber, Volkswagen, and the list goes on with organizations that failed to embrace their core values and cascade them deep into the organization.

6 tips on how to use core values to achieve your vision

  1. Your values should define what makes your organization unique and special. They should be more than “Table Stakes” such as honesty, respect, etc. Be sure to clearly articulate what those values look like in action every day for everyone.
  2. Establish context: make sure every employee understands what the values mean for them, in their role. Ensure they can see themselves and their work in the larger picture.  If possible, show how they align with your Vision and Purpose (Mission).  Think of it this way:
    1. Your Purpose (Mission Statement) is “Why” you exist
    2. Strategic goals are “What” you need to do to realize your Purpose
    3. Your Vision is “Where” you will be if you execute the goals effectively
    4. Core Values identify “Who” you need to be to succeed
  3. Implement a values-based rewards system as a key component of your employee recognition programs.  Consider adopting a real-time peer-to-peer recognition system. 76% of employees with value-based reward systems felt they were rewarded in alignment with their performance. Ensure employee’s performance plans are designed around your core values. Translate the values into expectations, priorities, and behaviors with colleagues, employees, and most important, self.
  4. Hire, fire, and promote on values. The fact is most relationships whether business, personal, or otherwise fail due to misalignment of values. It does not mean there is anything wrong with either party – they just value different things. If you attract people that embrace the values of your organization, they will be passionate, committed and help you succeed. If not, they will be miserable and so will you. When there is a value misalignment call it out and act quickly – you are helping the ‘misaligned employee’ and the organization. Fail to hold yourself and others accountable to values and others will follow your lead.
  5. Make your values visual. Ensure they in front of people every day in writing, but more importantly in your actions as leaders. Integrate them into daily conversation, performance review, problem-solving – they should become a key component of the organization’s vocabulary. 
  6. Align your Executive decisions not only to strategic goals and vision but also explicitly assess for adherence to core values. Abandon any decision that violates a core value even if it means foregoing short-term opportunities to sustain your long-term value. 

If you would like to talk to one of our management consultants or executive coaches to understand how you can develop authentic high-impact core values and align your organization’s leadership team on living out these values, please feel free to reach out – we’d love to chat.  Book a time here.

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