by Dr. David Robinson
Values…. the uncompromising principles that make up the soil in which the seeds of your vision are planted. If your vision is not coming to pass — check your values. Great slogans, tag lines, and pep talks don’t nurture and grow your vision; everyone living the values does.
How can you be sure your organization practices what it preaches about its core values. Try these seven steps:
1. Gather reliable information from your team members on the front lines. What values are they living when you are not around? Drill down through their priorities, concerns, goals and challenges. Do their real values line up with Core Values Statement or are they on a mission of their own?
2. Create a set of real values from the information in step one. Ask probing questions such as: “Do we have real values in action or just a set of aspirational values no one lives by?” “Do our values support our operational needs?” “Do we have values that contradict or conflict?”
Some of the best values statements are vigorously evaluated, challenged, debated and revised before implemented. Take time to revisit your values when you see the team drifting away from the vision.
3. Publicize and promote your values — often and everywhere possible. Keep enriching the soil that feeds your vision. Make values living your number one priority and everything will fall in line. For instance, Waste Management created an entire commercial around one of its best drivers who embodied the firm’s values of courtesy and reliability.
4. Highlight often how values preserve your commitment to integrity during times of conflict or unexpected events that threaten your organization’s public image. Great organizations turn away business or release talented team members when values are violated.
5. Create ways to check and verify how well all team members integrate the organizations core values in day-to-day opportunities to serve each other and the stake holders. Tie compensation and promotion to how well they live the values — not just how well they perform the task.
6. Teach and expect leaders at all levels to acknowledge the organization’s values in every decision. Every decision either promotes or compromises your value system. Let team members know what can be compromised and when — and what cannot be compromised under any circumstances.
7. Make values a predominant concern. Communicate and celebrate a value each month. Find new and creative ways to make it positive and rewarding. Make it enjoyable and a way of life. Make someone your CVO – Chief Values Officer to lead the way.
Limit your Core Values to no more than a handful — five to seven. If you have more than that, it’s harder to communicate and monitor.
Five basic values for every organization are integrity, accountability, teamwork, perseverance, and discipline. Pursue and practice these and success is always within reach.
Leaders who ignore or fail to model and emphasize values risk at best mediocrity or at worst — total failure.
Senior leader’s main job is harmonizing values and helping team members adjust to changing priorities and demands. Clear and committed values inspire and sustain top performance more than money or any other incentive.