A Culture Built on Values

clear expectations employee engagement employee experience employee retention exceeding expectations importance of organizational culture leadership culture organizational culture and values organizational culture definition the importance of organizational culture values Apr 06, 2022
Organizational Culture and Values

I don’t believe there’s a cookie-cutter approach to identifying and defining the values any organization’s culture is built around, that really needs to be a very intentional process and those values should be as unique as the products and services a company provides to the community it serves. That said, the example I shared last time should serve as something to follow - especially in how the team members took those values to heart so much that they even appreciated a handbook!

When we’re nailing down each individual value we want to build our culture around, be that for entire company or just the segment of the company we’re responsible for leading, it’s just as much about how we want to serve our team members as it is about how we’re known externally - if not more!

A friend of mine owns a company that provides a very unique service to their customers, but he’s been very careful to tie each value painted on the wall inside his front lobby back to what he expects all of his managers to provide for every single team member. If we only have a list of words in our handbooks or painted on the wall, or we only emphasize what those words mean in how we provide service to our customers, we won’t likely have much more than words…If we want those words to come to life within our organizational culture, we need to do more!

About a year and half ago, Cindy and I got to know a guy named Jeff Henderson. Jeff had just published his book, Know What You’re FOR when we talked with him. While none of us knew it at the time, Jeff also ended up being one of the speakers for the 2021 Live2Lead event we hosted locally. (By the way, registration opens on May 1 for the 2022 Live2Lead event we’ll be hosting in the Harrisonburg area later this year.) One of the things I heard Jeff say that’s stuck with me was that “employees who know they’re cared for take great care of their customers.” And that’s really what we need to consider as we determine what values we want our culture to be built on!

Then the work starts!

Picking the right words can be hard enough, but that’s the simplest part of the process. Like in that example before, we need to be extremely clear about what each of those values truly mean and we need to pound that drum on a continuous basis - pretty much every time we interact with anyone on our team… But that’s not all! We’ve got to make sure the values we want ingrained into the culture are seen through our own behaviors as well as the behaviors of anyone on our team who carries leadership responsibility. It won’t likely be an overnight process, especially if our team has been in place for a while and this is a big change from what they’ve been used to, but we’ll eventually begin to see our words and actions take root in what they do on a daily basis. And that’s where we start seeing an organizational culture that produces the kind of results I referenced as we started digging into this.

Moving forward, we’ll really work through a simple process for identifying the specific values we build our culture around, how to articulate why those values matter to us and our organizations, and how we can define the tangible return on investment those values should deliver to everyone involved. Stay tuned…