Do you know what the core company values are in your organization? It has them. All companies have core values. They should be evident just by spending time in and around the work being done. The thing that continues to puzzle me is the number of times I sit in the lobby of a company and read the poster on the wall declaring the company values, only to find no evidence of those values when I interact with the people who work there.
Employee Behavior Must Be Consistent with the Values of the Company
This became evident several years ago when we were working with a company in the alternative energy business. Their environmental focus as a value was prominently on display in the offices and on the walls of the plant. Yet, when leaders were given 360-degree feedback the scores pertaining to sustainability and environmental focus were among the lowest scores across the board. It was very easy to see that what was being communicated to the world was not what was being played out on a daily basis.
Why is this so important? Because your core company values are the fuel that feed the engine of your employee population. Prospective employees will search for what your company stands for before deciding whether to pursue a job. If the advertised values are out of alignment with the demonstrated values, there’s a danger that you will lose good people without truly understanding why. One article even went so far as to say that if you see the company values posted on the wall when you go for your interview, that it’s a sign of culture problem in the organization and you should leave immediately.
Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, says that you don’t set values, you discover them. This reinforces what we tell our clients. That the process surrounding values, competencies, and descriptions of high performance is descriptive rather than prescriptive. This means that you don’t hire us (or anyone) to come in and tell you what your competencies should be. You don’t select them from a menu or a book. You take what you observe as a value and shine a light on it. The values should be easy to discover. An organization that values productivity will have a different vibe than one that values fun. Neither is better or worse, and neither happens because someone told them to be productive or fun.
Whether you post your values on the wall or not, they are present and important. The thing to remember is that simply posting a list of values is not what makes them important. What makes them important is how they get used and incorporated into the day-to-day work of your people.