At some companies the official organization values turn into an ongoing joke either because they are never communicated or because leaders fail to live up to them. But organization values are important because they shape the culture and performance of the organization. They determine people’s actions and how decisions are made.
Every organization is unique, with unique needs and unique complications. To develop a thriving organization with a healthy culture, leaders must look at the unique strengths, circumstances, and values already present. Then, take action.
Here at DecisionWise, our management team recently took some time out of their hectic schedules to clarify our company values. We all had a general sense of what we value as a company, but hadn’t clearly articulated what that looked like until recently. (You can read more about our values here: Do Your Company Values Drive Employee Engagement?). The values were presented at a company meeting and strongly resonated with everyone present. But the big question was, “So, what now?”
Our company is growing rapidly, and we want to purposefully solidify our organizational culture. With these values in place, how do we reinforce them? Or in the Heath brothers’ terms, how do we make them “sticky”?
One of our first steps was to tie our values into our peer recognition program, which gives employees the opportunity to consciously think about the values and then reward their colleagues for exemplifying a value. Everyone is actively thinking about examples of the values in action; everyone has the opportunity to recognize anyone else throughout the organization; and, receiving the recognition feels good. It’s a win all around. Without plastering our values all over the walls, we’ve found a way to ensure everyone knows the values and is rewarded for acting accordingly. Just a couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues about work and family balance, and he mentioned some of the ways he manages his life and makes his family his top priority. I really appreciated his perspective, so I gave him one of our peer recognition tokens for demonstrating our value Family. He was happily surprised, and it was a great way for me to say thanks.
We recently took our own internal employee engagement survey, and we found that our value of Vitality scored lower than the other values. Among the many actions we considered, we decided to form a wellness committee called LiveWise to begin addressing some key Vitality issues: nutrition, fitness, and stress management, to name a few. We’re planning a company 5K later this year, and we started a little competition to get everyone prepared. We’ll be stocking the break room with more fruits and veggies and fewer pop tarts and chips. Our LiveWise team has many other ideas that we’ll be implementing throughout the year, and the enthusiasm for this value has already noticeably increased.
As our company continues to grow, we’ll continue to look for ways to consistently reinforce our values and encourage key behaviors. Peer recognition and wellness committees might not be the best ways to make your organization thrive. (Maybe everyone in your company is already super healthy.) That said, what are some creative ways your organization is reinforcing its values?