Thursday, January 22, 2015

Are Your Values Showing?

Are the right ones showing?


A lot of companies spend a lot of time talking about who they are (or who they want to be), what they stand for, and their impact on their customers, their communities, and their employees. Mission, Vision, Values: the cornerstones of any good strategic planning process. We put out surveys, convene focus groups, use facilitators and come up with pretty little phrases that we commit to plaques and proudly display in our lobby and print them in our annual reports.

All that is great, but it isn’t enough to simply articulate those values. Every supervisor, manager, and executive – and employee - should be able to relate them, and relate to them. In order to work, and be meaningful, they need to be 'living values' that show up in the day to day operations and activities of the organization.

As the saying goes, talk is cheap. Actually living your values is a different proposition, and the problem with values is that what you say about them is irrelevant. It's what you do about them that counts.

Leaders often act in a manner that is inconsistent with what they say. This habit of misaligning words and actions causes people to stop trusting them, to lose faith. Integrity takes a nose-dive and the leader’s ability to influence others is undermined by their actions. This can lead to employees being disengaged and merely going through the motions at work with very little commitment to the organization or its goals.

What are you actions saying about your values?

How you spend your time and your money says more about your values and their importance to your organization than the plaque on the wall. When either resource is scare, how you allocate them will speak volumes to your employees, your customers and your community about what you value. Are your actions showing the values you want them to show?

The internal workings of your organization pretty much dictate how it will present to the public, in one way or another. Do you say you value honesty, integrity and commitment to quality? Do you manage your workforce in line with those values? Do you expect your employees to behave, internally and externally in line with those values? Stating your expectations is one thing; you also have to back that up with action. Since what we tolerate has the tendency to grow, leadership ultimately predicts whether values are lived or simply espoused. We get what we allow.

Cliché as it is, walking the talk is still a very valid concept.

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