The culture of an organization is the principal source of its competitive advantage and differentiation with competitors. Organizations with a high performing culture are going to be successful. We know that a working set of values and behaviors drive culture. Mission and values set the direction for the organization in everyday work and decisions for the organization. When alignment of mission and values to the behavior within the organization is apparent, there is consistency of purpose for all stakeholders. Employees are more actively engaged in the work and positive about the organization. Positive culture is the result of the alignment of values and behaviors.
What happens if someone violates the values of an organization? This is when the alignment does not exist. The values of an organization set the expectations for the employees. The values raise the “bar” so to speak for the organization. So, leaders recognize those individuals who are great role models of the individual values and behaviors. This sends an additional message about expectations and provides an example of the behavior aligned to the value that all employees model. Failing to live up to a value set by the organization requires a leader to address that behavior using the language of the value.
EVERYONE COMMITS TO THE ORGANIZATION’S VALUES
Mission and values define who we are as an organization and as individuals within the organization. The mission and the core values set expectations for all stakeholders, internal and external, involved with the organizations. They set the direction and are foundational to decisions and strategic perspectives of the organization. The mission and values define who we are as an organization.
Values can be determined in different ways and usually there is a collaborative effort to listen to the voices of stakeholders as values are defined and behaviors aligned to the values are set. These values represent who we are and what we intend to be. It is essential that the organization has agreement regarding values and behaviors since we will all be expected to live up to the values and behaviors. As we share our values cohesion is created within the organization. We are all on the same page.
The reverse is also true. If someone within the organization fails to live up to the values and follow the behaviors aligned to values, the violation of the values is addressed. The situation is addressed as soon as possible so the violation is fresh in the mind of the person. This can be addressed by a peer or by a leader. It is important to use KEY WORDS to address the situation. For example, “I was surprised when you turned your back when the visitor came to your desk. That is not your usual way.” The purpose is to call attention to the anti-value behavior not to be evaluative. Address the behavior.
As leaders we strive to constantly be objective in our feedback to employees and peers. We are often uncomfortable with actions or traits that seem subjective or more about the personal side of someone. For example, a person may constantly be negative about the organization and individuals within the organization. We are reluctant to talk with the person about this because we think we are judging a person. What is the effect of not addressing this violation of a value and aligned behavior? The person thought the values and behaviors were meaningless and now she is convinced. Others who believed in the values and behaviors now are not sure if the values are real and meaningful.
LIVE THE ORGANIZATION’S VALUES IN 5 STEPS
If values define who we are, what we stand for, what intend to become, the values with aligned behaviors are supported by everyone in the organization. These values are the expectations for how we behave, how we treat others and what we stand for with our actions. The values and behaviors guide us in our approach to our work and with those we work with. Violating the values requires someone to have a conversation focused on adjusting behavior to meet the expectations of the values and behaviors. High performing organizations have strong values. This indicates that there is agreement around the organizational values and behaviors. To maintain the high performing culture, organizations do not tolerate non-compliance with the accepted values.
Identify your organizational mission
- Work accomplished daily
- Statement of purpose for the work of all employees
Collaboratively identify the values of the organization – 5 is the optimal number.
- Include frontline staff in collaborative work
- Values are aligned to the mission
Communicate the mission, values and behaviors
- Executive leadership communicates
- All leadership communicates