Many companies have jumped on the culture bandwagon, creating their own core values. Some of these organizations have even defined the meaning of these values; what they mean when they have “integrity” or “customer-focused” in this list of standards. Not many have taken the third step, which is defining the behaviors that both support and detract from the values.
I’ve worked with many organizations on creating their values. Often, these values are dictated from upper management for the entire organization. That’s OK because it’s difficult in large organizations to involve all the team members in values creation. It’s also OK because each business unit and department gets to take the values to the next level by defining the behaviors that go along with the value statement.
Explicitly define your understanding of the value word
Let’s start with the definition of the value. Rather than presenting only a word or phrase for each value, it’s best to define exactly what you mean by the value. For example, one of Brio Leadership’s core values is “Integrity.” For some, this word means simply following the rules. For us at Team Brio, it means “doing what we say we’ll do, being scrupulously honest, because everything matters.” Can you see how these two definitions are quite different?
List behaviors that support each value
To take your exemplary values to the next level, identify the behaviors and actions that support the chosen values. When I work with large companies, I ask each department to specifically identify the actions they can take to support each value. After all, the actions that a sales department takes will be different from the marketing group.
One technical support group that I worked with listed these actions to support the value of
Additionally, managers, with their HR Business Partners, can incorporate these behaviors into performance reviews by including a section on “Living our Values.” In this section, you can list the values followed by the behaviors you have defined and rate the individual on a Likert scale, ranking them from 1 to 5, which can be seen below:
List behaviors that detract from the value
Conversely, encourage each department within your organization to define the actions that detract from the chosen value. In the example above, which pertains to a technical support group, they defined the detractors from the “Passionate” value as:
Supporting and detracting behaviors could be incorporated into a code of conduct statement for any department and business. The supporting and detracting behaviors serve as the “guard rails” for your business.
The Ultimate Test
These questions form the ultimate test of the effectiveness of your values work:
If you can’t answer yes to all, you have some work to do!
From the desk of