Five ways to turn your values into action
Values-based organisations are among the world’s most successful. They provide satisfying places to work where employees are highly engaged. This helps to boost creativity and innovation, improve productivity and, ultimately, drive higher and more sustainable results.
To benefit from being a values-based organisation, you must ensure that you do not only rely on espoused values. You must make certain that you put your values into action.
Why a values-based organisation succeeds
Employees who are empowered to make values-based decisions in a values-based organisation deliver better customer service. Errors are corrected quickly, and problems are resolved without the need for an endless email chain or hours on the phone.
Employees, customers, suppliers and vendors tend to be most loyal to values-based organisations whose values align with their own. A positive approach begets positive reactions. This loyalty manifests in strong relationships that help organisations weather difficult economic and trading conditions.
Leaders and managers in a values-based organisation view employees, customers and other stakeholders as allies – people to collaborate with toward shared goals. This environment is less stressful, as focus shifts from profit to relationships and purpose. Over time, as the values-based organisation builds meaningful relationships with all stakeholders, the loyalty and motivation that thrive translate to improvements in the bottom line.
Five ways to put your values into action
A values-based organisation ensures that its values flow through every daily task. Its policies and procedures are aligned with its values, and all aspects are impacted. Here are five ways to ensure that your organisation lives up to its stated values.
1. Establish a consensus for core values
Your values are the fundamental beliefs that guide behaviours. You cannot force these beliefs onto your employees. It is imperative that you involve your employees in identifying and defining the beliefs you will embed in your workplace culture as a values-based organisation. From here, make it a collaborative effort to create a vision statement for change, and a mission statement that provides purpose.
2. Communicate openly
Most organisations recognise that they have diverse workforces. This presents opportunities to be more inclusive and innovative, and challenges unconscious bias causing conflict.
An open and honest working environment should be the target, in which transparency of communication is encouraged with empathy. When managers take the time to understand their employees, it is easier to develop the environment where people feel empowered to participate and collaborate.
3. Nurture accountability
Nurturing accountability is a foundation of a values-based organisation. Providing a workplace in which autonomy and responsibility is valued helps to negate the blame culture that can damage an organisation’s creativity and productivity.
4. Make decision-making a team task
Involve teams in decision-making, ensuring that the connection to values is highlighted. Consider the impact on all stakeholders, and how decisions and ensuing actions affect the big picture.
When employees are encouraged to be part of the decision-making process, it helps to develop an environment in which trust and collaboration flourishes.
5. Bring values to life daily
Maintaining momentum in a values-based organisation requires being conscious of its values. They must be held front and centre in all decision-making and inform the actions and behaviours of leaders, managers and employees.
Organisations that can bring values to life daily develop values-based cultures. Managers can encourage adherence to values by asking question such as, “How well are we demonstrating our values with this action?” and telling stories that exhibit the organisation’s values.
Regular employee reviews should integrate recognition of behaviours that match the core values, while executives can be given values for which they become sponsors within the organisation. Finally, ensure that all employees operate to the same values-based rules and guidelines.
Developing a values-based organisation will have a positive impact on employee engagement, productivity, relationships with customers and other stakeholders, and the collaborative culture that develops will accelerate the organisation toward its goals.
However, transforming to a values-based organisation is a long-term strategy. It requires planning and execution of communication and engagement strategies. When decision-making and behaviours are shaped by your core values that have been developed with your employees and other stakeholders, the results flow through to the bottom line.
(To see how putting people in the picture creates a shared vision and helps set a concrete destination, read this case study.)