If “culture eats strategy for breakfast” (Peter Drucker), then what makes up your culture? What is the foundational building block for culture and how do I bring it to life in my team?
Two great questions!
Core Values and Common Values:
First, the foundation of all cultures are Core Values. These make up the belief system and guiding principles for all human beings. Every group of people (a group is defined as two or more people), also have core values (yes, even when you have not defined them, the group will behave based on their personal belief system).
Second, Common Values are what guides the group to do, or not do… even when no one is looking. The secret to this happening, of course, is recruiting, assessing and hiring people that align with the values.
The Missing Question:
The third, and the BIG question, then is how do we, as leaders, bring our Core Values to life?
Making Core Values Real:
Here is the model that I use in the sessions I facilitate with organizations big and small all over the world:
- What do the values actually mean? Values run the risk of being words or platitudes on the boardroom wall if we don’t define and debate what they actually mean. Take the word ‘integrity’ for example. Integrity means different things to different people in different parts of the world. Without a clear and concise definition of what each value means, people will tend to make up their own definition. For example: “Integrity here means that we always do the right thing – even when no one is watching.”
- How do we bring them to life? This is the hardest thing for leaders to do. Why? It is something that leaders think if they do it once, they can check it off the list. Word class leaders bring values by talking about them all the time.
- Start every meeting with a ‘Values Moment.’ Give examples of what they mean and recognize someone on the team who has been ‘caught’ living the values.
- Build a ‘Values Wall.’ Designate a place where people can post notes about colleagues living the values. Once a month take all those notes down and draw for a prize.
- Immediately and swiftly deal with Vales Violations. Your culture and your business are only as good as the worst behavior leaders are willing to tolerate. If leaders allow values to be violated (in any form) then that becomes the new set-point for your culture.
- Values are a talent magnet. Today’s top talent wants to work for an organization that believes the same thing that they do. Simple as that. Stop the endless cycle of Millennial talent coming and going by hiring for values fit.
- Values Violations. Sit down with your team and decide how as a group, you will deal with value violations. I don’t mean coming up with a list that covers all the possible ‘if this happens then we do this.’ What I mean is that everyone understands that the values are critical to your organization, your strategy execution and to your customers you serve and… when someone violates a value – either big or small – we won’t walk past it without immediate correction (up to and including termination).
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, #1 Best Selling Author, International Keynote Speaker, and TEC Top Speaker of the Year for 2018. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Click here to get his weekly Tuesday Tune Up blog posts straight to your inbox.
Tags: Belief Systems
, Business Culture
, Business Strategy
, Core Values
, Robert Murray
, Robert S. Murray