Amber Johnson is the CVDL’s corporate relations advisor and a non-profit and small business communications specialist.
Most corporate websites have them: a list of corporate values, usually five to seven of them, identified by top leadership as reflecting the organization when it’s at its best. Unfortunately, what’s often missing is the next step: clear expectations —along with practical guidance – for leaders and managers to live out these values.
Companies that have managed to do this see benefits immediately, including higher employee retention and satisfaction; improved customer and client relations; and increased shareholder value.
There is no quick solution for integrating values into your corporate practices. But executives looking for a place to start can begin with these simple ideas:
• Get your leaders talking: Executives should know your corporate values and use examples of how these values are lived out in all public comments. If leaders don’t yet have this vocabulary, use senior team meetings for conversations about the values. Encourage managers to integrate values discussions in team meetings.
• Create a checklist for decision making: Use your corporate values to draft a simple checklist for decision making. Review the checklist when faced with challenging decisions: you may find that values occasionally conflict with one another. Acknowledge this, and work with your leadership team to seek the decision that most reflects the values of the company.
• Share stories and celebrate successes: Look for examples of employees who embody your corporate values. Share these stories widely, as a model for others. Create case studies for training new staff members. In one-on-one communication with employees, identify behaviors that reflect the values, and share your appreciation.
• Let values guide hiring and assessment decisions: identify ways values can be lived out at the operational level; seek job candidates with demonstrated experience in these behaviors. Reward employees who model this behavior.
For more details on the Center for Values-Driven Leadership, visit our web site, www.cvdl.org.