Core Values

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

Early in my career, I remember struggling deeply with the issue of employees taking for granted and taking advantage of the positive and supportive culture and overall work environment that our management team created and maintained. It was incomprehensible for me to observe how a co-worker could dismiss a great work environment while doing their best to pollute it with their own poor attitude and outlook on life.

The golden brick

Observing similar unappreciative behaviors from time to time within other work environments reminds me of the lesson my Dad taught me early in my career, "Never mistake kindness for weakness." It’s unfortunate, but with some folks, if you give them a golden brick, they would complain because the brick wasn’t gift wrapped. Sounds cynical doesn’t it? But we all know it’s true.

As business leaders, it is very important to always treat people with kindness, respect and dignity. However, when you’ve succeeded at creating a wonderful work environment, and an employee consistently takes advantage of the organization’s kind and compassionate culture, it’s time for a learning opportunity. It’s time to talk about your organization’s core values and how their behavior aligns with them. Core values are guidelines that determine individual and organizational actions and behaviors. They are tools and filters that aid companies in the management of their business. Team compatibility, and ultimately corporate success, requires that all employees buy into the core values established by the senior management team. If the core values are not mutually shared by all members of a team, frustration, anger and even distrust can show up within an organization.

Some facts about core values

  1. Values drive organizations. Everything people do is based on the core values by which they live their lives.
  2. Values shape attitudes, policies, procedures and activities.
  3. Values are always being demonstrated. You can’t hide them.
  4. Values create your organization’s culture, and they influence how your company lives and feels.

The following exercise is designed to help you and your teammates discover whether or not your organization is living according to the core/mutual values of the organization. 

Please respond to the following questions:

  1. Does your organization have a set of core values that have been shared with and are visible to all employees?
  2. Effective leaders must continue to drive home the organization’s core values message every time they speak. Please rank how well you feel your management team does at getting the values message out at every opportunity (1 is low, 10 is high).
  3. On a scale from 1 to 10, please rank how you see your organization demonstrating, in behavior and attitude, a belief in each of your core values.
  4. For any core value that has received a ranking of 7 or less, please identify what behavioral disconnects you have observed.
  5. What suggestions do you have for improving your team’s alignment with the core values that you have ranked at 7 or below?

Kindness or weakness

Let’s go back to the golden brick concept. When management has succeeded at creating a wonderful and productive work environment in which people are treated with kindness, respect and dignity, and the rare occasion surfaces when an employee consistently takes advantage of this kindness, management must act decisively.

Management must be compassionate to the rest of their team by correcting the misalignment problem.

If there is a basic lack of respect by an individual in how they treat others, or if they consistently demonstrate a desire and ability to pollute an otherwise great corporate environment, two options exist. Either it’s time to coach the employee with the goal of achieving behavioral alignment with the organization’s core values, or it’s time to part ways. Leadership can’t be weak in this. If leadership is weak and does not address the offensive situation quickly, bad attitudes can quickly spread throughout the organization negatively impacting an organization’s ability to perform at the very highest of levels.

It’s unfortunate, but some people do confuse kindness for weakness. Remember, core values influence an organization’s culture. They directly impact how your company lives and feels. Team harmony (teamwork and communications) is a leading indicator to future earnings performance. Ensure you have built a solid emotional foundation based on a set of values with which your company can grow from. If you observe behavioral disconnects and deviations from the core/mutual values of your organization, address the situation immediately as opposed to allowing it to linger.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display