In traditional workplaces, company values are often overlooked, sometimes rarely remembered, and can carry little weight as a necessary part of organizational culture. Just ask yourself, in regards to your organization, which values can you remember? How would your teams respond when asked that same question?
The disconnection between company culture and values.
For most, the daily behaviors in the workplace create a disconnect between the actual company culture and its ideal values. Maybe your company says it values integrity, but you see your supervisors undercutting their directors or vice versa. Or perhaps your team promotes inclusiveness, but some colleagues are consistently left out or bullied. These occasions of dissonance make it harder to remember what those values are, and they create opportunities for influential and powerful employees to promote a negative culture that fosters distrust, fear, and as we have seen in the news: harassment. Negative behaviors can occur in all organizations, but a company's dedication to maintaining a workforce rooted in these values is the deciding factor on how impactful these actions will be.
Protect your ideal culture from negative contributors.
A company should hold its values dear as much as an individual would safeguard their personal values. In essence, personal values help us define the behaviors that make us up as individuals. If someone told you what their values were but stopped behaving in a way to support them, wouldn't you question their credibility? The same goes for businesses. As values become less credible and less practiced, eventually the organization begins to passively support negative behaviors that undermine the values they sought to protect. When we hire candidates and retain personnel who may not drive our values, we are affecting the culture, engagement, and ultimately the bottom line of the business.
If you are unsure of how extensively these bad behaviors can affect an organization, examine how “America’s Most Innovative Company,” Enron Corporation, crumbled from risky and unrestrained company culture.
From C-level executives to entry-level workers, your firm's values are nothing if not credible and respected by all levels. Having structures and dedication to hiring and firing based on these values helps to ensure that a growing workforce can sustain your culture.
Create accountability in your hiring structures.
Some companies, most famously Zappos and Amazon, have created Pay to Quit programs that give new hires a financial benefit for quitting if they discover that they aren't happy with the job or culture. By no means are these companies pressuring new personnel to leave their jobs, but they give them an opportunity to evaluate the worth of staying with a company or job that they don't align with. For B2C establishments like Zappos and Amazon, high expectations of WOW customer service can only be met by engaged and dedicated employees. Pay to Quit programs are not the best fit for every establishment, but they are an example of a structure dedicated to protecting culture even after the hiring phase. In the long run, it is more financially sound and healthier to have team members who can grow and support your culture.
So how can you start implementing a stronger focus on values for your company?
- Start examining the state of your core values and culture. Look at your values first and determine if they are right for the culture that you want to create.
- After finalizing your values, determine what behaviors do and do not support them. Defining behaviors gives your organization something to point to and empowers specific actions from employees. It also gives your human resources department or recruiters a better frame of reference for what candidates to look for and what observations can lead to the letting go of an employee.
When your institution's values come alive through everyday actions, your corporate culture will dissolve opposing dynamics and practices. Instead of growing long-term tensions and opportunities for offensive behavior, your employees are empowered to protect one another, promote a positive culture, and be engaged on their teams and in their roles. Making your company's core values a vital part of your workplace is a payoff for the bottom line and the well-being and longevity of your culture
How long has it been since you revisited your company's core values? Take a deeper dive and evaluate your set of values and company culture with a DH coachsultant.