3 Questions to Consider for Crafting Powerful Organizational Values
In today's fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, organizations are increasingly recognizing the significance of employee engagement. One crucial aspect that influences culture and how employees engage is the development of organizational values.
Core values serve as the guiding principles that define a company and shape its culture. They provide the framework for guiding an organization’s decision-making and attract like-minded individuals. More importantly, values tap into the essence of human nature. They reflect the way a team commits to working and what its people care about, and ultimately, should inspire employees to deliver their best.
Last summer, I had the chance to facilitate several ways of working sessions with the Black Talent Initiative. During this time, my fellow volunteer, Brooke Graham, introduced me to an insightful framework that prompts teams to think about the right values for their organization and how they should govern they way they work. This framework also emphasizes how these values can be lived out and recognized in day-to-day operations.
Here are three key questions to ask when developing organizational values that will truly foster engagement and drive success:
1. How are your values contextualized?
Start by reflecting on what these values mean to you personally, and how they align with the vision for the organization. What do these values mean to you? When you see this value, what do you think of? How do you understand them?
To assist with this, think about this scenario: If you had to explain these values to someone outside of the organization, how might you describe them?
2. How are your values applied?
Values become meaningful when they are reflected in action. Consider how your values can be observed in the behaviours of your people, both internally and externally in the way they work. How might these values be demonstrated in action? How might you recognize these values in how employees behave with each other? With clients and partners? What are tangible examples of these values being demonstrated in practice?
To assist with this, it may be helpful to think of a colleague whom you consider a role model for these values. What qualities does that person possess that made you think of them? What specific actions do they take to demonstrate these values?
3. How will you stay accountable to your values?
Accountability is crucial for maintaining and embedding organizational values. By aligning your operating mechanisms with your values, this fosters a culture that encourages accountability and reinforces desired behaviours. How will you know when you've succeeded at exemplifying this value? How will you know when you've failed? What processes and checks and balances should be in place to effectively embed these values in the organization?
To assist with this, consider how values are embedded in onboarding staff, hiring and evaluating your people, and in your decision-making processes.
Values should be more than just words on a wall or in a handbook. They should be deeply ingrained in the day-to-day operations and behaviours of your employees. By understanding what these values mean to you and effectively communicating them, it creates a shared understanding and purpose throughout the organization. And when your values are reflected in action, they become a powerful tool for attracting like-minded individuals who are passionate about your mission and align with your organizational culture.
Developing or revisiting your organizational values is a crucial step towards shaping a culture of engagement, success and belonging. By considering these three key questions, you can create a values-driven culture that attracts the right talent and inspires exceptional performance.
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