Reflect Tips – How to Bring Your Company Values to Life

Transcript of the video is below:


We spend a load of time and effort coming up with them. They’re meant to encapsulate our culture, and our desired behaviours as a business.

But there’s a real danger here.

How do we stop values just becoming words on a website? Posters on a wall?

How do we actually embody these shared behaviours and make them a core part of what we do?

Hi there, I’m Sean Butcher, Culture Consultant and Founder of Reflect Consultancy. 

I work with digital agencies and other ambitious businesses to help them create cultures that bring out the best out of their people. 

In this video I’m going to give you FIVE tips for bringing your values to life in your organisation, and ensure you avoid the classic pitfalls that mean they don’t end up being taken seriously. 

So let’s go…

The first tip, and definitely one of the most important, is to collaborate when you set your values

I cannot emphasise enough HOW important this is. At all costs, you need to avoid a situation where the values are set at leadership level, and are then just dictated to the rest of the business. 

This has a couple of negative consequences:

Firstly – nobody truly buys into them. The values never feel like theirs. And whilst the business leaders need to truly believe and embody the values themselves, this is also true of the rest of the organisation.

Secondly – you’re guaranteed to end up with all of the typical cliche’ values this way. ‘Communication’, ‘Hard work’, ‘Collaboration’, ‘Customer focused’. Whilst these are all very admirable things, and things that your business probably does care about – so does pretty much every business out there.

Your culture and your values are one of the most significant things that make your organisation unique. 

How are you giving your values a personality that really represents your business for what it is? Make sure the words used to describe your values portray that in the best way possible.

Tip number 2 is that leaders NEED to set the example

The CEO, the leadership team, HAVE HAVE HAVE to be modelling the desired behaviours impeccably. 

If they aren’t, the values are NEVER going to be taken seriously, and they certainly won’t be used by anyone else. 

In fact, it’s one of the main reasons that values end up failing.

Whilst collaborative value setting is important, as I just mentioned, the process also NEEDS to involve your leadership team. They need to truly understand the values, buy into them and deeply consider the behaviours that they are expected to demonstrate.

And this needs to be done from the get-go. If not, it will likely cause serious damage to the credibility of the values, and the rest of the employees will lose faith in them straight away.

Tip number three is to build your values into your performance & progression processes

If you’re going to take your values seriously then you need to hold these behaviours at the same regard as technical skill. 

Being a great individual contributor, and being solid at your job is clearly important. But if you’re not displaying the behaviours expected of the organisation, then you’re ultimately not a great fit and shouldn’t be in line for progression, otherwise it shows that the values just aren’t that important.

This isn’t saying that you need to create a team of clones, far from it. 

But even diverse teams can be underpinned with a set of behaviours and attitudes that portray the organisation in the way it is intended. 

As such, make sure that everyone understands that in order to progress within the business, they are going to be measured on displaying the values just as much as their skills in more technical or creative elements. 

If someone is consistently lacking in one or more of the values, then help coach them to understand what they need to do to align with that behaviour, and build the actions you set together into their professional development plan. You’ll want to agree on this together and then catch up on progress on a regular basis. 

Of course, you want to ensure existing employees align with your values, but this is also true of future hires too.

So tip number four is to build them into your recruitment processes. 

I’ve found one of the most effective ways of doing this is to dedicate part of your interview to asking questions that check for understanding of the values, and to seek examples of where they may have demonstrated them in the past, whether in their professional or personal lives. 

It may even be that you have a whole separate interview purely for this exercise. 

By doing this you’re finding people that will align with your organisation’s desired behaviours from the outset. These are usually people that get up to speed more quickly. In fact, I’ve often found that it’s these employees that end up doing far better in the long-run than those that you hire for their skill or experience alone. 

The fifth and final tip is to reward people that go above and beyond 

Personally I’m not a huge fan of employee of the month type systems as it rewards individualism as opposed to teamwork. 

At the same time, I think it’s a great idea for employees to be able to recognise and thank each other when one of their colleagues has displayed a value that has ultimately helped them, their team or the business. 

Some sort of peer recognition scheme should help to achieve this. One idea is to give everyone a set of ‘points’ they can award their colleagues across the course of a defined timeframe, based on meeting one or more of the values.

These points could then be converted into additional perk like time off or vouchers. Or sometimes the feedback is enough for providing motivation, and the comments could just be used in the performance and progression processes. 

Overall, this is a really nice way to show others the praise and thanks received for adopting these desired behaviours, and demonstrate the importance of them to your business. 

So that’s that, my five tips to help bring your company values to life:

  • Collaborate when you set your values
  • Leaders setting the example
  • Building your values into your performance & progression processes
  • Building your values into your recruitment processes. 
  • Rewarding people that go above and beyond 

Let me know what you think? Do you have any other methods for bringing your values to life? Have you found something else that achieves employee buy-in? 

Thanks so much for watching – please subscribe to the channel for more leadership tips like this, and hopefully see you on another one of my videos very soon!

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