Core values are ideals that guide individual and organizational behaviors. They shape policies, procedures and activities, and they manifest themselves in your organization’s culture.
Team compatibility, and ultimately corporate success, requires that all employees buy into the core values established by the senior management team. If core values are not mutually shared by all team members, frustration, anger and even distrust can show up within an organization.
Examples of commonly identified core values:
• To operate with honesty, integrity and fairness in all our dealings.
• To behave in a way that creates a customer for life…deliver performance always.
• To always treat people with the highest degree of respect regardless of the situation.
• To maintain an atmosphere that keeps the lines of communication open throughout the organization so that everyone feels connected.
• To have and maintain positive attitudes…grumpy people do not fit here.
• To provide opportunities for growth and development.
• To have an attitude of achievement…we have the commitment and discipline to achieve our goals.
• To achieve profitable growth through operational excellence.
Ensure behavioral alignment with your core values
First of all, yes… to achieve profitable growth is a core value. Is it assumed? I sure hope so. It’s included in the list above because there is always someone in the crowd who questions their teammates or the owner when they want to state profitable growth as a core value. If personally, you appreciate having an income stream to pay your bills and save for retirement, then you should value profitable growth and behave in a way that produces it for your employer. Profitable growth is not a dirty word…it’s a necessity!
To ensure operational alignment with your company’s core values, consider conducting the following exercise with your employees. At a management or department meeting, review the organization’s core values. Ask your teammates if they continue to agree with them. Typically, people do agree with core values because they are kind of like motherhood and apple pie. How could you not agree with the core values listed above? In fact, if you don’t agree with the above values, you would probably not be a good fit at too many companies.
From time to time however, even though people agree with the management team’s core values, they don’t behave in a way that is aligned with them. To change this, frequently you must create awareness of the misalignment. One great way to do this is to pull either the management team or your department team together to conduct a self-assessment.
Make misalignments visible
The way this exercise works is simple. You, as the business leader, ask each team member to rate their demonstrated behavior compared to the organization’s core values on a scale from one to ten (ten is the best). I’ll warn you that this exercise does make people squirm a little if their behavior has not been aligned with the organization’s core values. The squirming comes from the visibility created through the team discussion. As you conduct this exercise, keep the following core value in mind: to always treat people with the highest degree of respect regardless of the situation.
The goal behind the exercise is to review, discuss and correct any behavioral disconnects to ensure that everyone’s behavior is aligned with the organization’s core values. I’ve led companies through this discussion dozens of times, and it’s always a very good team building exercise. The discussion will reinforce good behaviors and expose those behaviors that are clearly not in alignment. Both examples are good for an organization to have, as these discussions are instrumental in helping people achieve alignment with their corporate culture.
It’s been my experience that most people rate themselves honestly, and with few exceptions, are open to the feedback they receive from other group members. If anything, people tend to underestimate their behavior – and this tool is an excellent way for them to get positive reinforcement for their contributions. The key to making this self assessment a positive experience for members is for it to be properly facilitated. Nothing positive is accomplished if people leave the experience feeling beat up. However, when behavior is discussed in a kind, compassionate manner, evaluations of this type can have positive results for the individual and the organization.