Values? What’s the point?

I get a nicely branded e-mail talking about company values; the several meetings to talk about them; the fancy video introducing the new values; the excited people bringing them up all the time…So what? My eyes roll and I think to myself “it looks good on paper!

Whether they are clearly stated or not, every company has values.  They are are the behaviors a culture uses to keep score.

Take the case of Enron.com.  They claimed to value respect, integrity, communication, and excellence.  Yet, we all know the true value was making money at all costs without getting caught.

An extreme case, but something to consider when talking about the subject of values.

  • How do they look like?
  • What behaviors model them?
  • How would we measure success?
  • How can we show our team what they mean?

These are some of the answers needed when promoting the values of a company.

“It looks good on paper” is a direct result of people not being able to relate the words to the actual culture of the company.  As I said in a previous post, “people do what people see; and it is the leaders’ responsibility to embody the values.

How to make values relevant?

  • Share a team member’s story.
  • Relate them to daily activities.
  • Show them how it looks like.
  • Describe them in common terms and regularly.
  • And most importantly, reward the behaviors not just the work.

Remember, “what isn’t measured doesn’t matter, even when you say it does.” – Dan Rockwell

People need to see proof that leaders really mean what they say; and “seeing” is all about behaviors not words.

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