We recently hosted a Leaders’ Breakfast where two SME owner-managers described how they had worked with their teams to create a shared set of core values. Having clear values can benefit organisations in many ways including increased employee engagement, innovation and productivity. Over 75% of employees consider it “very important” to work for a company with defined core values. Having defined your company values, how do you ‘bring them alive’ and embed them into every element of working life to ensure they become a living philosophy and not just a ‘wish list on the wall’.
1. Recruit for attitude over aptitude
Core values play an essential role in attracting talented people with a rise in what has been termed the ‘belief driven employee’. 59% of those changing jobs describe that they are doing so to find a better fit between their own and their employer’s values. Just as people are looking for companies that share their values, so should businesses look to hire people whose personal values match with the organisation. By prioritising values and behaviours in your recruitment process you can make sure that you identify the right person for the job and avoid introducing a new person into the team who is not a good cultural fit.
2. Emphasise them in your induction process
Bringing a new recruit into the business is an important time and a good induction process can lay the foundations for building relationships and creating a successful team. Make sure that you emphasise the cultural expectations of the organisation rather than focusing solely on administrative elements such as the layout of the building, health and safety or compliance. LEAD™ masterclass speaker, John Oliver OBE suggests going further to help bridge any gap between the old guard and the new recruit by assigning a “buddy”. This is usually an experienced colleague, often at the same peer level, with a positive mindset who effectively sponsors the new employee and acts as a sounding board during the first few months of the new arrival’s tenure or longer.
3. Lead by example and set clear expectations
The views, opinions and behaviours of those in positions of responsibility are the key contributing elements to the ultimate culture in any organisation. If they say one thing and do another, they are immediately going to undermine the culture and performance. So set clear expectations for the behaviours that represent your values, make sure that your leaders / managers are leading by example and that your teams understand how they can and should bring your values to life in their day-to-day work.
4. Talk about them in meetings
Values should be more than a set of aspirational words on the wall. Leaders / managers should be talking about them and reminding people again and again that the company’s values are more than just words. Include them on meeting agendas, discuss them in 1-2-1 meetings and appraisals and share them in company communications. QuoLux™ is a family business and we have seven core values that we live by. At the start of every monthly meeting we go around the table and all attendees give an example of how they have lived one of the values or share how they have observed a colleague live the values. It is a great way to get everyone to consider what the values mean to them in the roles they are doing in the business, i.e. the values are contextualised. By living the values and discussing them regularly we are all learning how to use them and ensure that they are reflected in the way we do business with each other and with our clients and other stakeholders.
5. Recognise people who demonstrate them
This is arguably the most important point and yet is one which is frequently overlooked. Celebrating your company values through recognition can help reinforce them by providing clear examples of what the core values look like in action; encourages people to continue embodying the values in their everyday work and brings them alive by celebrating and recognising those who live them. Talking about values and behaviours in meetings and appraisals and encouraging people to share examples of what they and their colleagues have been doing, will allow leaders / managers to recognise good work and create an environment where team members can feel motivated, engaged and inspired.
How do you live your values?
If you'd like to explore your company values and some of the most effective ways to increase employee engagement, innovation and productivity in your organisation, get in touch to understand more our leadership and business development program, LEAD™. Our next program starts in April 2023, and you can click here for more information.
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