Align Values with Your Performance Feedback & Evaluations

James D. Ludema & Amber A. Johnson Leadership, Values

How to Create a Values Competency Framework that Strengthens Culture & Drives Performance


Note: This post is excerpted from our free e-book,
Making Values Meaningful, a Menu of Options for Senior Leaders.

1339105725_7d299fa3e7Effective performance feedback looks both at a person’s job competencies and their alignment with core values.

Making this connection can be as simple as making time in performance feedback sessions to revisit the same core values summary sheet that is used as part of the mentoring process.

Another option is to include a set of questions about values in your 360-reviews or other evaluation processes. For example, as part of a 360, a colleague might be asked,

“On a scale of 1-5, to what extent does Tom demonstrate the value of creativity in his work? Please share specific examples and/or ways in which Tom might develop in this area.”

This data can then be included in regular (monthly or quarterly) performance feedback meetings. One company we’ve worked with uses a web-based tool and is developing an app that employees can use to give one another real-time feedback on their congruence with the values. Making time for frequent feedback is important, so there are no surprises during annual performance reviews, and so there is continuous company-wide alignment around core values.

Creating a Values Competency Framework

Some companies go a step further and develop a Values Competency Framework (VCF) to show how individual values can be put into practice at various levels of the organization. A VCF can incorporate the ideas and examples you identified during your values mapping exercises.

On the following page you will find a simple VCF for Origami Carton & Crate, a fictional packaging company, focusing on the value of creativity. A full VCF would have similar components for each value.

OCC VCF image

This simple Values Competency Framework illustrates how a series of level-appropriate competencies can emerge from a single shared value, Creativity. Developing your own VCF is a significant undertaking that, to be done well, requires input from every corner of the organization, often under the guidance of an external consultant or project manager. However, you can move in the direction of establishing a VCF just by answering a series of questions:

  • How should everyone in the organization demonstrate the value of Creativity?
  • How should leaders in the organization demonstrate Creativity?
  • What Creative skill sets are necessary for executives in the organization?

Once established, you can begin to use these values-driven competencies in your performance feedback processes, but only after you’ve made the competencies public for an extended period of time. It’s never a good idea to evaluate someone on expectations you have not made clear.

Rating Performance

With an established Values Competency Framework, you can rate team member performance to help people understand how well they are perceived to be living out the values. The decision to do this should be made with caution, and only after you have fully developed your values set and its competencies within the organization. However, rating values-based performance can also be a helpful tool in guiding the organization, because it helps team members understand what it looks like to succeed within the organization. As the old adage goes, you manage to what you measure. The following rating scale can be considered:

  • Lagging: demonstrates a lack of familiarity and intent toward the value and shows significant opportunity for growth in meeting the competencies required.
  • Developing: demonstrates familiarity and intent toward the value, but has opportunity for growth in meeting the competencies required.
  • Proficient: regularly meets all or most of the competencies required.
  • Excellent: consistently meets all of the competencies required.
  • Exemplary: meets all of the competencies required at their level, and shows capacity for meeting competencies at the next level.

Having a clearly outlined VCF and a performance feedback system that identifies competency can also help you recognize areas in which mentoring or training might help develop a high potential employee within your organization.

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MVM 3D image book stack cropThis post is excerpted from Making Values Meaningful: A Menu of Options for Senior Leaders. The e-book was written by Jim Ludema, Ph.D., director of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership, and Amber Johnson, the Center’s chief communications officer. Download your free copy by clicking the image on the left. 

Photo Credit: pshutterbug via Compfight cc