Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love

How to Make Work Values Valuable for Employee Engagement

February 29, 2024 Russel Lolacher Episode 141
Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love
How to Make Work Values Valuable for Employee Engagement
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, communications and leadership nerd (and host) Russel Lolacher highlights how putting more value into our corporate values will help employee engagement.

We talk about values, we put them on posters and on websites but they have absolutely no meaning to staff if they aren't demonstrated and rewarded, every day.  Russel will walk through an example of how to operationalize values, some areas to focus on and how to get started to make those values valuable. 

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Welcome back to Relationships At Work – the leadership mindset guide for creating a workplace we love.  I’m your host Russel Lolache

I’m a communications and leadership nerd with a couple of decades of experience and a heap of curiosity on how we can make the workplace better. If you’re a leader trying to understand and improve your impact on work culture and the employee experience, you’re in the right place.

This, in your hands right now, is a mini-episode of the show a quick and valuable bit of information to help shift your leadership mindset. 

In this episode….

We’re Putting Values into Operations

The term “values” is a VERY overused term in the workplace. They're mentioned on occasion when you're doing some yearly team building exercise, they're on a poster in the HR offices...somewhere. Oh, and they get brought up during a change management exercise that seems out of the blue.

Oh, and they're on the website too.

But for values to be valuable, they can’t be just words. We know this. If they are, they’re little more than nice-to-have slogans. 

If we don't incorporate and operationalize our values within the DNA of the company, rewarding and reinforcing them at every opportunity, then they don't have any value other than words to fill a corporate webpage (under those vision and mission statements)

That doesn't need to be the case. 

Organizations are better for it if they take their values seriously. And demonstrate it, every single day. In a conversation I had on the show with Justin Robbins, he talked about Hershey's Legacy Cheques. The organization would give "cheques" to leadership for them to hand out to employees who demonstrated the company values. These were small monetary rewards (that grew with continual recognition) they could use at a local amusement park. It was an “on the spot” recognition program for the employee and a reinforcement of what the values looked like for other employees and management. 

If you’re curious (cause I was), Hershey’s core values are integrity, excellence, respect, and teamwork.

And you’re right… those sound SUPER vague and generic. That’s why it’s even more important to recognize them in action, so team members can see and model what that behaviour can and should look like when it comes to corporate values. 

Win Win Win.

So. First, steal that idea. 
 Second, think about where else we could drive home the importance of our company values? Here are a few ideas:

·       Job Interviews - ask questions to determine how the prospective employee lives the values and how they would be applicable in the new role. It’s a great place to start that conversation so they are set up for success in understanding what is rewarded at work. 

·       Stay/Thrive Interviews - ask how employees are performing the values and how their leadership can model/support those values better. And discuss how the values are helping or hindering their employee experience.

·       Performance Reviews - understand how the employee is using the values to improve performance and build relationships in their career growth. And help them understand how if they aren’t.

·       Meetings/Stand Ups - take one value and do a roundtable in how everyone has demonstrated or seen that value performed in the last week at work.

If we are going to get serious about our values, we need to take a few steps first before operationalizing them. 
 Here are a few to get us started:

1.    Define Clear Values: ensure that these values are clear, concise, and aligned with the company's mission and vision.

2.    Communicate Values: Make sure that all employees, from top-level executives to front-line staff, are aware of the company's values. Regularly communicate and reinforce these values through various channels, such as company meetings, newsletters, and internal communications. And provide examples. If we’ just say “integrity”, it can mean different things to different people. Take opportunities to have a dialogue around them. 

3.    Lead by Example: Leaders have to, HAVE TO demonstrate the values in their actions and decisions, serving as role models for others to follow.

4.    Align Policies and Procedures: This might involve updating existing policies or creating new ones to reflect the organization's principles. But if we’re going to walk the talk…

Values that are not defined, communicated, lived and reinforced aren't values. They're an unfulfilled promise of an organizational culture that doesn't actually exist.

Let’s foster a real culture with real values that inspire others to want to work with us and stay with us. 

Show how valuable those values are.