Leaders are responsible to reinforce the core values of the organization

What are the core values of your business? And how can you as a business leader ensure that employees are able to articulate the core values of the organization in a conversation?

As a business leader, you need to understand the importance and significance of the core values of your company.

Core values express the personality of your organization

A well-thought-through set of core values are key to the uniqueness and power of the culture of an organization. It expresses the personality of the company – remembering that your organization is a living, breathing organism with a distinct personality.

Furthermore, core values are much more than the generic list of good attributes like honesty, teamwork, integrity and customer service that is often only displayed on a company’s marketing materials.

In particular, core values are the boundaries and rules that define the organization’s culture and mentioned personality.  And it provides that final “Should / Shouldn’t” test for all behaviors and decisions made by everyone in the company.

The leadership team must live the core values of the organization

The single most important thing that allows the core values to infuse the company, is for the management team to lead by example.  This means that the leaders must make sure that they live and breathe the values, and that they align their behaviors and decisions with the values.

At its’ worst

At its’ worst, values are a set of generic words like honesty, teamwork and integrity that only appear on the company website or on posters in the office.  In this case they are meaningless words, especially when the behavior of the business leaders don’t align with the so-called values.

At its’ best

However, at its’ best, core values create a sense of security and congruence among everyone in the organisation.  This means, in difficult times and conflict situations, I can trust my manager or colleague to act on, and make decisions that align with the boundaries of the core values.

Core values become a shared language

I agree with John Ratliff (founder and former CEO of Appletree Answers) when he says: “Your core values shouldn’t be a marketing initiative. We would talk about the core values all day, every day. They were part of our DNA.”

Leaders and managers must be engaged in actively reinforcing the core values through their talk, behavior and decision-making.  Core values become a shared language and commitment to each other.

10 Practical ways to reinforce the core values of the organization

As a business owner or leader, you might ask: How do I reinforce the core values of my business? Here are some practical ways:

  • Every time you praise or reprimand someone, tie it back to a core value.
  • Encourage employees to look for colleagues whose actions embody a core value, and to voice this.
  • Design your company’s on-boarding process around teaching the core values to new employees.
  • Organize recognition and reward categories around the core values.
  • Incorporate the core values in weekly, monthly, or quarterly themes for the company.
  • When you make a decision, relate it to a core value.
  • Hire for culture fit. Shape your hiring process around the core values. Test how candidates align with these values.
  • Score employees on how well they act on the core values during performance appraisals.
  • Share stories about co-workers living the core values in newsletters.
  • Make the core values part of daily life. As a leader, keep repeating yourself – it keeps the core values top-of-mind for everyone.

All together it is clear that managers are responsible to actively reinforce the core values of the organization. They should do it through their daily talk, behavior and decision-making.  This will ensure that the core values infuse the company and it will start dictating everyone’s behavior.  It will become the shared language across all levels in the organization. And employees will be articulating them, besides making your company a great place to work.

This article discusses where Core Values fit in the One-Page Strategic Plan of your organization.

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Written by Ingrid Pistorius

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