values based culture engagement

Elements that support a values based culture

Core values are at the heart of a values based culture and drive Employee Engagement and profitability

Core values are the guiding principles that speak to accepted behaviours and actions within your organisation. These values can help employees and managers to decide what actions to take when faced with a fluid and dynamic work environment. Essentially core values help your organisation to determine if they are on the right path to achieve your business goals. Employee engagement is supposed to stimulate positive employee attitudes and behaviour in order to improve productivity, morale and satisfaction within the organisation. However, for many organisations the challenge is converting their proclaimed values into an authentic, work-changing experiences for their employees. Often, the issue is that the values are typically expressed as jargon/corporate-speak. Added to that is a disconnect between the actions of leaders and rewarding the wrong behaviours.

core values speak to guiding principles behaviour and actions

 Key elements that drive a values based culture:

Clearly defined values.

What does your organisation actually stand for?  What do you  stand for as an individual?  These two elements must be aligned to drive a positive culture of engaged action. Identifying and understanding the values and beliefs that define who we are as individuals (and our organisations) is a critical step to building and embedding a solid culture and brand. Essentially, our values define our character, our organisational values define or culture, and our organisation’s culture determines how we act as employees.

core values into understandable ideas

Clearly defining our desired culture through a strong set of values, which are then lived is a fundamental step towards an engaged values based culture. Values are our guiding principles, a roadmap that guides us towards the culture we desire.  They are the blueprint of how we should behave towards each other and how we can expect to be treated by the organisation. They can be a valuable guide in our decision-making process. Values need to be specific, simple and memorable, but most importantly they need to be lived on a day to day basis from the top down. They also need to be  reinforced through our processes – what we acknowledge and reward.values based culture and brand

A feeling of belonging.

Creating a feeling of personal belonging in employees is a key to engagement and a values based culture. When we identify with an organisation’s values and feel part of the organisation we are more likely to take personal responsibility for making it a success. Being part of an organisation we can believe in also creates a sense of pride and accomplishment in us.  Part of this is having a voice and feeling seen – believing we matter.

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Theodore RooseveltCore values are at the heart of a values based culture and drive Employee Engagement and profitability Core values are the guiding principles that dictate behavior and action within your organisation. These values can help employees and managers to decide what actions to take when faced with a fluid and dynamic work environment. Essentially core values help your organisation to determine if they are on the right path to fulfil your business goals. Employee engagement is supposed to stimulate positive employee attitudes and behaviour in order to improve productivity, morale and satisfaction within the organisation. However, for many organisations the challenge is converting their proclaimed values into an authentic, work-changing experiences for their employees. Often, the issue is that the values are typically expressed as jargon/corporate-speak. Added to that is a disconnect between the actions of leaders and rewarding the wrong behaviours. Key elements that drive a values based culture: Clearly defined values. What does your organisation stand for? What do you as an individual stand for? These two elements must be in alignment to drive a positive culture of engaged action towards delivering your strategy. Identifying and understanding the values and beliefs that define you (and your organisation) is a critical step to build and embed a solid cultural brand. Essentially, your values define your culture, and an organisation's culture determines how their employees act. Clearly defining your desired culture through a strong set of values, which are then lived is a fundamental step towards en engaged culture. These are guiding principles, a roadmap that guides us towards a values based culture. They are the blueprint of how we should behave towards each other and how we can expect to be treated by the organisation. They guide our decision-making. Values should be specific, simple, memorable and directive but most importantly they need to be lived on a day to day basis and reinforced through the employee life cycle. I work with a leading Sports charity and they have only three values - Be enthuisatic, Be responsive, Be responsible. The Managers are trained to sit down with their teams on a regular basis to discuss what these three values mean and to highlight examples of where they have been lived. This is supported by every employee having access to a "guidebook" which brings it all to life. A feeling of belonging. Create a feeling of personal belonging When employees feel like a company or organisation is their own, they take personal responsibility for making it a success. This also brings with it a sense of pride and achievement. It’s what I call the ‘Insider Effect’ where, through a number of conditions, people feel ‘a part of something’ - which has tremendous engagement advantages. So what are the key elements that create this feeling of personal belonging towards an organisation? I’ve covered this and more in my post ‘The Insider Effect - the key to Engaging Employees’. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt Giving employees a voice. Encourage your people to ask questions One of the benefits of engaged employees is that they ask lots of questions, they are curious and they question the status quo - this leads to them having the desire to change things for the better. However, some organisations have a culture that stifles the freedom to ask questions - and the business suffers as a consequence. If employees don’t feel comfortable asking “why are we doing it this way” then they won’t find it easy coming forward with good ideas. So, how do you show that you value your employees opinions and encourage your organisation to develop a questioning culture? You’ll find the answers in my post“Why do Giraffes have long necks?”. Developing leadership across the board. Develop good line managers - they are your secret engagement agents Poor engagement is often about the relationship between employee and their line manager - not the organisation. That’s understandable, it can often feel like the line manager is the organisation. That’s why developing good line management people skills that engage, motivate and develop rather than demotivate and sap initiative will make a huge difference to morale, productivity and retention. The characteristics of a great line manager are covered in my post 'Why you never forget a good line manager'. Live values through authentic leadership. From my time at Virgin through to today - I have witnessed the positive results that happen when leaders of organisations engage and motivate their employees directly through being transparent, visible and honest. But they don’t just have to be good at inspiring and motivating, they need to care about their people - and demonstrate it. The following quote is from Sir Richard Branson and sums up how the values of a good leader contributes towards an engaging culture. Keep it simple. It’s a real challenge to manage the flow of communications and incredibly easy to overwhelm employees. Day to day comms can often take priority over the things that may seem more abstract but that are fundamental to shaping the organisation’s culture. Keeping things clear and concise is crucial. When launching a new vision and/or values there’s a flurry of tactical comms activity, but will this truly embed the values? And will it ensure that employees continually think and act with the values in mind? It certainly helps and is an important part of the process - team away-days, face-to-face meetings, branded working environments, digital comms and intranet updates can all be part of the mix but it needs to go deeper.

Giving employees a voice. 

Our employees often see opportunities and threats to our organisation before we do, but unless they feel comfortable sharing their observations we may not hear about them until it is too late. A key benefit of engaged employees is that they ask lots of questions, they are curious and they question the “way we do things here.” Examining the status quo leads opportunities to change things for the better. Increase efficiencies and reduce waste.

However, when an organisation has a culture that stifles the freedom to ask questions the business often suffers as a consequence, specially in competitive markets. When employees don’t feel comfortable asking “why are we doing things this way?” they might find it difficult to offer innovations and suggestions to improve.safe to question values based culture

Developing leadership across the board.

Great line managers are the secret weapon in the fight against apathy and disengagement.  The greatest predictor of engagement is the relationship between and employee and their direct supervisor. In fact many people experience the organisation through their line manager.

This is why developing good people management skills that engage, motivate and develop employees, rather than demotivate and delete initiative is crucial. According to Gallup 50% of people leave managers not organisations – but the cost to replace talent is still a huge expense to the organisation. Upskilling or replacing poor managers is often less expensive than the loss of talent poor managers cause.values based culture fit manager employee

Live values through authentic leadership. 

We don’t care what people say, we learn from what they do. Authentic leadership that is transparent, visible and honest is crucial to engage and motivate employees.  One of the most valuable traits of a manager is to really care about their people – and show it. Do you live the values of your organisation, or just pay lip service?intergrity vs lip service live values values based culture

Keep it simple.

It can be incredibly easy to overwhelm employees with too much information, and as such it can be a real challenge to manage the flow of communications to ensure the information is relevant and sticks. Often day-to-day communication takes priority over items that may seem more abstract. However, the bottom line is that these soft/abstract communications are often fundamental to shaping the organisation’s culture.

When launching a new vision/values it is essential to keep communication clear, concise and relatable. A flurry of tactical comms activity often doesn’t actually help embed the values but causes a disconnect as employees get overwhelmed with data. So how do we help employees to continually think and act with the values in mind? One of the most effective ways tis to keep the conversation alive. Conversations in teams and with managers which link the values or strategy to day-to-day behaviours is more effective than screen savers, posters or annual town hall meetings listing the values.

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Richard Riche

Change Communication and Employee Engagement specialist at One Clear Message Consulting
Richard specialises in helping you build real human communication skills. Employee Engagement / Experience, Emotional Intelligence skills, building high performance teams and a great place you want to work. TED style speaking and presentation skills. Training, consulting and coaching.
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