Are Your Values and Beliefs Credible?

Business leaders seek to develop winning organizationvalcred
cultures that propel a business beyond market expectations. However, it is easy to overlook that the culture of a business is a reflection of the values that operate across the organization. So, are the values that drive the culture the values desired by business leadership?

Too often the values that drive the business day-to-day are not necessarily the posted values of the business promoted by the ownership and leadership team.

The consequence of the actual values departing from the posted values of the business is an organization that is confused. Employees are left to apply their personal values or preferences to conduct the affairs of business. This can result in unpredictable conduct which can be difficult enough to deal with employee-to employee, but can result in varying and unsatisfactory experiences for the customer.

Therefore, the values of the business are not credible if they are different than what the business promotes as their core values and also vary from one circumstance to the next, from one department to the next, or from one customer experience to the next. The net result is the execution of the company’s values is inconsistent or nonexistent, leading to inefficiencies, and will most likely result in customer dissatisfaction or apathy regarding the attitude of the market toward the company and its products.

Managed Performance
Companies track production and financial performance to ensure that schedules are met, cost and quality are under control, adequate cash flow is generated, and net earnings meet or exceed objectives. Implied in all of this measurement or tracking is that the correct set of values and beliefs are in place. However, the outcome of a company’s ability to manage performance tied to its values and beliefs is a function of its credibility. In other words, the posted values and beliefs are not credible unless there is a method and consistent practice of measuring compliance with the values and beliefs of the business with the same emphasis that is applied to financial and production performance.

Credibility of values and beliefs comes from consistent education and reinforcement of core values with employees. Business processes and work environment must also be aligned with the same core values. Employee behavior (at all levels) should be rewarded when core values are modeled and conversely consequences when employees exhibit behavior that is contradictory and/or destructive to these values. If contradictory behavior is not improved then further disciplinary action may be necessary to remove the employee from the company.

Value Credibility
Companies that are serious about the ability of their organization to maintain value and belief compliance will ensure that:

  • All operations are consistent with core values.
  • Business strategy does not compromise core values.
  • Day-to-day work experience of all employees is consistent with core values.
  • Active efforts to rectify incidents that are inconsistent with core values.
  • Executive management regularly reinforces (walk-the-talk) and recognizes employees that are good models of core values.

Role of Management Responsibility
The most effective method of instilling value credibility is the consistent conduct of the senior manager (or owner) and the management team to exemplify the core values in all aspects of what they do day-in and day-out. Businesses that struggle with developing credible values will most likely have a breakdown in execution by the management team to model the values of how they conduct their responsibilities. Too often this is a situation where there is one set of values for management and another set of values expected of regular employees. This is a recipe for disaster.

A committed management team will hold themselves accountable to model the core values for the rest of the organization. From CEO to supervisor or lead, there will be a conscious effort to not only examine their own daily compliance but to also circulate through their area of responsibility and regularly reinforce core values compliance in meetings or when interacting with employees. Engaging in conversations about core values and how they apply on a daily basis with employees can be extremely effective in clearing up any misunderstandings, discussing how to apply them in various situations and highlighting successful employee examples.

Measures management can take to improve the ability of the organization to perform the desired core values should include the following:

  • Recruiting: New candidates should be examined in how they have demonstrated values consistent with those adopted by the company.
  • Training: New employees should receive training upon entering the company which is then continued in a mentor environment for a period of time after employment.
  • Compliance: Do not assume that core values are self-evident to all employees. Structure situations where the understanding and interpretation of the core values develops desired and consistent behavior.
  • Survey: Survey employees and customers to determine what core values are understood and those that may need additional clarification.
  • Pace of Implementation: Start with values that are easier to understand and apply. As you witness understanding and agreement then move on to more difficult and complex values. At each step, recognize the progress that the employee or group has made.
  • Reevaluate: As time progresses it may be necessary to reevaluate your core values as society and the employee base changes. While your core values may still be valid, they may need to be communicated and reinforced in different ways.

The understanding and effective execution of core values is the foundation of a successful culture and business. Unfortunately, the outcome of credible core values does not evolve by itself. The same effort and attention needs to be applied to how the organization understands and implements its core values as it does to production, quality, product design, sales, accounting and marketing processes. This requires face-to-face interaction to train and mentor employees to model core values in what they do for the business every day.

Make sure your core values are credible.

Instilling credible core values in your business is not trivial but the results are rewarding!


Suggested Reading on Values:

What Are Your Core Business Values?

Business: Values & Principles

Stand Tall: Stand on Principle or Go With the Flow?



“Mastering Strategy” by Jeffrey Rigsby and Guy Greco

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