Your Values Are In Your Actions

Your Core Values may be a waste of time

Are Values posters taking up wall space in your reception? If your core values do nothing more than clog up wall space with pretty posters and appear in your annual report, then you may be wasting your time. In fact, it is worse than that – you are promising something to your people and perhaps your customers too, that you may be failing to deliver.

High performing organisations have a set of Core Values that are translated into concrete actions. People should be hired and promoted because they buy-in to and live your values, the Appraisal process should be aligned to reflect the values and people judged not only against what they have achieved, but by how they have achieved it. Your values should be the backbone of the organisation where your people are rewarded and recognised for living them and coached if they do not live up to them.

Living the values must have consequences. As with all things in organisations, having the right HR processes and systems to integrate the values through the spine of the business is one thing, but living and breathing them is another.

It must start with leadership being visible and not only showing the values in action (and searching for opportunities to do so), but also catching people doing things right (and rewarding) and coaching people who are not living up the values. It is so important for people in organisations to see the consequences of their actions, otherwise we promote a culture of mediocrity that no one wants.

There are many things that leaders need to do to help to embed the values in their organisations:

  • Tell stories. When you see a value being lived in a part of your business, recognise and reward the individual or team and then tell the story. We all remember stories.
  • Be visible. People must see you, otherwise how can you be living the values. Get out there, walk the corridors and speak to people, not just your direct reports, but right through your company.
  • Recognise publicly, coach privately. When you catch people doing things right you should make sure others are aware and can see what happened and that they are being rewarded for it. But when people fail to live up to the values, then take them to one side, talk them through what happened and what the consequences are of behaving in this way to them and the business.
  • You are what you do – diarise opportunities to demonstrate your values. When you are a leader / manager in successful organisations you will never have enough time in the day. So, the key is working out what is important, developing and empowering your people to take some of the work off your hands and making time to get out. You have to create the time to make presentations, tell stories, have Awaydays with your team and generally instil in them the values that are key to the culture you want to create.