If your organization hasn't identified core values, here is a way to derive them.
- Consider your best employees. What common characteristics do they all possess?
- Consider the employees that “didn’t fit” your organization. Was there a values mismatch?
- What are the “hero stories” in your organization? What gets celebrated is what is reinforced.
- Review the lists. Differentiate “permission to play values” from core values.
- “Permission to play” values are global attributes such as honesty, integrity, fairness, etc. that are required in most workplaces
- “Core values” are unique to your organization. They are the values you will stand up for no matter what, even if your organization suffers in the short term. They are what make you different and unique from others.
- Clearly identify the core value (remember, core values are different than “permission to play” values)
- Write down every day behaviors that exemplify that value
- Create a question someone can ask themselves each day to determine whether they have or have not lived that value on a particular day.
Organizational Value: Entrepreneurship
- Be fearless
- Run it like you own it
- Create your own opportunities
Here is another example:
Organizational Value: Service above self
- Place client needs above your own
- Make decisions in the context of the whole
- Always offer to help
This is neither a quick or easy process. It cannot be delegated to a project team. It takes focused attention and many hours for the leadership team to get it right, but it is worth the effort. Be sure to validate your thoughts with key employees before rolling this out to the entire organization.
Reinforce organizational values through HR systems.
As mentioned above, if something is really a core value, the organization is will to make sacrifices to live up to that value. That includes the people we have working in our organizations. How can you embed core values into everyday behaviors?
- When recruiting, make sure job postings clearly identify what is important to your organization. This allows those who don’t fit to opt out early.
- Interview for culture fit as well as aptitude. Note: Culture fit is not an excuse to hire people just like you! If your organization values diversity and inclusion, make sure every interview asks a couple of behaviorally based questions about this area. Ask they candidate how he / she will contribute to this value if hired.
- Onboarding. Share the hero stories. Give examples of how these values play out in everyday work. Incorporate the results of the exercise above
- Incorporate values into job descriptions and performance evaluation criteria. Make “how you do the job” as important as getting the results.
- Make sure your leaders are passionate about, and demonstrate, the core values in their behavior. It is difficult and disingenuous to hold employees to a behavioral standard senior leadership is not held accountable to.
For more on organizational values read Patrick Lencioni’s “The Advantage”, Gino Wickman’s “Traction”, or give Roo a call. We’d love to work with you.