How to make sure your values are serving a purpose.
Awake Leadership Solutions is two years old this month! As we enter our third year, we’re reflecting on our values and an essential question for many companies: How do you make sure your values are reflected in the actions of your team? How do you ensure your values system is really serving a purpose?
The Purpose of Values
Values are important for an organization because they unite the team around the collective actions, or hows, of the organization; how you do business and how you collaborate. Values are reflected in three key areas: your products or services, your processes and policies, and your team’s behavior. They are an important part of the collective identity of the company and are a reflection of what you stand for. Values help companies recruit the right people and attract ideal customers. Values help leaders to navigate decisions on behalf of the organization. Ultimately, values serve the purpose of fueling progress, productivity, and morale.
Challenges with Values
In an increasingly interconnected world of commerce, where companies have more diverse teams of different educational and professional backgrounds, people often have different perceptions of what values really mean in action. Values are high-level words that serve as an umbrella for actions. Value words like integrity, mindfulness, or innovation have different meanings to different people depending on their experience. This makes it challenging to implement a values system and see values reflected in day-to-day actions.
Another challenge with values is that, as companies grow and change, values often get lost and diluted in the trenches of the work. Over time, companies often lose track of how the work they do connects back to their values and how their values influence their work. People lose track of what the company stands for and people lose sight of the important values that unite and bind the company culturally. Teams lose connection and collective progress suffers.
How to Translate Values to Action
In order to keep the values alive and to keep the team united in action, it’s important to regularly return to your company values as a team.
Here are ten ways to ensure you are living your values as an organization.
- Make sure all team members are aware of and understand the company values. Each quarter, provide a fun and informative values training. In the training, review the values so all employees (both old and new) are aware of what the company values are.
- In the values training, take time to make sure the importance of values is clear. Team members will not take the values or the training seriously if they don’t understand how the values help to drive peace and progress for the company. Make sure your team values your values!
- Tie your values back to your company mission, your product or services, your processes and policies, your team behavior, and your culture.
- As part of the training, have the top-level leadership provide past and more recent examples of the values in action. What specific examples of company actions and behavior reflect each of your values? Remember to include recent examples from all three key areas: your products and services, your processes and policies, and your team’s behavior.
- Also, ask team members to prep examples of the values in action to share during the quarterly training.
- Take questions! Encourage team members and leaders to ask questions about the values.
- Encourage leaders to create their own values for their team in addition to the company values. You can learn a lot about what people think and want the company to represent by what they come up with on their own.
- Reconsider your values annually. As a leadership team, on an annual basis return to your values and reevaluate if they are a reflection of what you represent and aspire to represent. If the values needed to change as the company and world changes, make sure to update your values with the intention to evolve, align, and improve.
- Observe and discuss. Top-level leadership should always observe actions and interpersonal behavior. In one-on-one meetings, discuss when actions do not align with or reflect the company values so that team members understand and stay aligned in action. Work to understand why someone took an action that did not align with the company values.
- Incorporate values into performance reviews. By incorporating values as a part of individual performance evaluations, team members are further incentivized to understand the values, ask questions about them, and act in alignment with the company values.
When intentionally chosen and put into practice, values enable organizations to make sustainable progress, evolve, and attract the right team members and customers. The key to making sure the organization continues to live its values in practice is to make sure all employees understand what the values mean in practice and continuously reflect on the values in action. Reflection and observation are important for moving forward with awareness and collective momentum. Continue to return to your values and take a deep dive into how your specific products or services, processes and policies, and interpersonal behavior and culture reflect your values.
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Thanks for reading! Follow along this week as we highlight our six values: ethics, mindfulness, simplicity, creativity, authenticity, and freedom. Follow along on Instagram: @AwakeLeadershipSolutions