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How to Make Values Live in Your Organization

Begin Your Values Alignment Process

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How to Make Values Live in Your Organization
Copyright Lise Gagne

Values exist in every workplace. Your organization’s culture is partially the outward demonstration of the values currently existing in your workplace. The question you need to ask is whether these existing values are creating the workplace you desire.

Do these values promote a culture of extraordinary customer care by happy, motivated, productive people? If not, you will want to:

 
  • identify the values that currently exist in your workplace;

  • determine if these are the right values for your workplace; and

  • change the actions and behaviors by which the values are demonstrated, if necessary.

To really make a difference in your organization, you need to do all three. A reader in the read-only About Human Resources Forum supports this view.

 

"Within the organizations I have had the opportunity to serve, the core values were communicated by actions mostly - in the ways in which business is conducted on a day-to-day basis, and not so much in words directly spoken or written.

"I am a strong advocate of demonstrated values more than written or spoken - actions speak louder, but also believe that written values that reinforce and support specific actions, and specific actions that reinforce and support written values, make a powerful combination that far exceeds one or the other by itself. If it is written down and demonstrated in action, we can really hold our feet to the fire when we need to."

In a prior article, I discussed what values are, why you want to identify values, and where values fit within your workplaces. This article moves the process of identifying workplace values to the next step.

Values Development Process

My focus, in this article, is on how to develop and articulate shared workplace values. While the focus is on values identification and alignment, you can use this process to develop any product or course of action that needs widespread support, enrollment in, and ownership from your staff.

I have used it successfully to help organizations develop mission statements, visions for their future, relationship guidelines and norms, prioritized action plans, and departmental goals.

 

Steps in a Values Identification Process

To identify organization values, bring together your executive group to:

 

  • learn about and discuss the power of shared values;
  • obtain consensus that these leaders are committed to creating a value-based workplace;
  • define the role of the executives in leading this process; and
  • provide written material the executives can share with their reporting staff.

In one of my client organizations, that recently completed this process, the Team Culture and Training Team, a cross-functional group of employees from every level of the organization, asked the executive group to initiate and lead this process.

Where possible, acting on a desire for change that is percolating from all corners of an organization, is a powerful assurance of success.

Design and schedule a series of values alignment sessions in which all members of the organization will participate. Schedule each member of the organization to attend a three-four hour session. (If your group is small, it is most effective for all members to meet in one session together.)

These sessions are most effective when led by a trained facilitator. This allows each member of your organization to fully participate in the process. Alternatively, train internal facilitators who lead one session, and participate in another.

On the next page, read about the role of leaders in a successful values identification and alignment process.

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