More than Words: Bringing your values to life

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Photo by Sarah Jane on

One of my biggest passions within “HR” is that values cannot just be words on a wall, or on a mug, or part of an HR program.  They are the fabric or DNA or your organization.  They represent who you are, and what you expect from your team.  They need to part of every day life and your employees should be able to speak to them like they talk about their passions outside of work.  Therefore, they have to be demonstrated in your organization through everything you do: communication, meetings, feedback, the office environment, learning and development.  And it starts with your leaders and managers acting as role models to these key behaviors that define your organization.

I did two different talks in 2018 on this topic (check out my Out & About Page for the videos).   In those presentations, there are three key things I focus on that can help drive leaders to be role models of your values:

  • Create a common language – values are just the start, you need to make sure everyone knows that they mean and the “definitions” of them in order to actually demonstrate them.  Some companies use competencies, some use “I” statements, or list a real life example, it should be whatever fits your company’s culture
  • Catch people in the act – coach leaders on how to recognize and reward, on the spot, when someone has demonstrated one of your values; don’t have that recognition only come in a formal HR program (performance reviews, peer nominated reward program, etc)
  • Show their own vulnerability – Leaders, Managers, HR professionals are not perfect (I know, shocking!), so make sure you are able to admit when you struggle with a value and aren’t the role model we should be for our teams.  Not only is it a true sign of leadership, but it shows that everyone stumbles and will allow for your teams to be more open to feedback and have their own self-awareness when a behavior against your culture is demonstrated.

How can you apply this to your own culture? How can you help new hires understand your values as part of on-boarding?  How can you make sure the team is interviewing with a clear sense of “culture fit”? How do your values support conflict resolution, creating a feedback & learning culture, and career pathing?

We learn most from each other so share your thoughts, experiences, questions below and let’s talk about how we can bring your values to life within your organization.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly, if you want some 1:1 advice, or share your stories anonymously!