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To make values relevant, you’ve got to do more than that break room poster

by | May 8, 2018

Whether you call them core values, beliefs or guiding principles, they won’t be relevant to employees until you make them so. On their own, the language of corporate values can seem a little esoteric. Employees may view them as abstract concepts that have little to do with their day-to-day work.

To make your company values meaningful to employees, you have to show how they drive action. How do they impact the way leadership and employees make decisions? Give visibility to how the values apply not just in business, but in your particular business.

Innovation, for instance, probably means something different at J.P. Morgan than it does at Google. What does it look like when employees in your company show respect? What decisions are they making that exemplify integrity? How are they being fast and lean? Or showing an entrepreneurial spirit? Whatever the words you use for your values, help employees understand what it looks like to put those values to work.

One tactical element of that is helping employees see how those values are actionable. For instance, channels of communications might incorporate stories and photos or videos of employees who demonstrated one of the values through some specific behavior, decision or action. These sorts of employee stories do more than just offer recognition to those who are doing it right. They also model that behavior for other employees, helping them understand how those values might play out in their own jobs.

It also helps to have company leadership talk about how they live the values. When announcing a decision or new initiative, part of that discussion might be how that development is related to, or based on, one of the values and how it ties back to the company vision. That helps employees see that those at the top actually use the values in their own work. And it demonstrates the sort of concrete results that grow out of those values.

Ideally, the values become part of an ongoing conversation that never ends. They’ll be brought up in meetings when groups are collaborating on solutions. They’ll be discussed in performance reviews. And they’ll be the voices in the back of employees’ minds when they’re trying to figure out how to handle countless unexpected situations.

Are you working to make the company values more relevant to employees? Tribe can help.

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