What is all this values stuff about?
A valid question asked of me by an employee at one of my clients. What is it all about? Why bother launching a vision and values? Why do values matter? What is a values driven organisation?
Increasingly organisations are looking to define their Vision – the future desired state or direction of travel for their organisation, and their values – their raison d’être, their core purpose, their why. However, if the vision lacks meaning and emotion, and the values do not resonate with the employees of the organisation, then the words become, well, just words.
The biggest mistake I have seen when working with employers around their Values, comes from a top down approach. The leadership team will seek to define the culture and values of the business based on their own perspective and beliefs. A values driven organisation should be one driven from the bottom up, where the values become synonymous with behaviours and beliefs, and they change from beings words on a wall, to a scenario, where every employee, lives and breathes the values of their organisation.
The consequence of getting this right and having an engaged works forced is huge. This will impact on staff retention, motivation, productivity, and importantly, will come across to the customer. Values can often be perceived as an internal exercise, however, a true values driven organisation is powerful thing and can act as a key differentiator when compared to the competition.
So how do you get it right? Well firstly, it is not a quick two week re branding exercise accompanied with a comms plan. Planning, consulting, defining and launching values is a commitment and will take anything upwards from 3 months to a year depending on the size of the organisation.
Below is my 7 point plan around how to nail the Values of your organisation:
1. The big questions – Are the leadership team committed? Do they know what they want to get out of it? Where is the organisation going? Where does it want to be? How does it want to be perceived? What is the culture they want in the organisation?
2. Engage with the employees – Explain why you want to define the values of the organisation. Conduct surveys. Have workshops. Try to define the culture of the organisation as it is now. Where do they want the company to be in 5 years’ time? What is important to them?
3. Refine and Define – Settle on four or five core values that resonate with both employees and the leadership team. There must be synergy.
4. Launch and Internal Comms – The crayons come out and the Values need to be front and centre whether it be through documentation, visuals on the walls, email signatures, company intranet. All staff workshops should be undertaken at the launch phase, these should be fun, interactive sessions
5. Embed – Use of informal means i.e. competitions, incentives, and formal means i.e. a competency framework, monthly reviews, yearly appraisals, will help to transition the values and bring them to life for the organisation.
6. External Comms – Shout from the roof tops! A detailed external comms plan to clients and the outside world will further help add weight and impetus to the importance of the values and get your customers engaged.
7. Measurement – Over time the organisation can assess the impact based on the agree metrics at the start of the process.
When companies get this right it can be a truly transformative exercise from a staff engagement and commercial perspective.